7 Reasons to Know How You’re Built & The Questions You Must Ask Yourself to Find Out

I have an acquaintance that has a catch phrase I just had to borrow. He often speaks of how “You gotta know how you’re built.” His phrase translates as thus — You need to know yourself in and out, by understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and what you can handle. We are not all born equal. Some of us are born with certain natural inclinations to specific skill sets or are born with genetic qualities that some covet or revile.  Either way, life is not fair. In order to survive the challenges of life’s ups and downs before us, “We must now how we are built!”


  1. Knowing how you are built requires that we understand that we all have potential, but there are some things beyond our control. It is said that most of us only give 40% of effort to a thing, and then we quit before we push past that envelope. Sometimes it is not possible for us to go beyond our point of exhaustion and carry on because of finances, cultural traditions, psychological dependency, or strong opposition of others. We must constantly look deeply into ourselves and see what skill sets we naturally have. We must assess our thinking patterns, to see what is possible to change or use to our advantage.
  2. Change is always a constant. Sometimes we get a chance to relax in life, basking in a current success. Sometimes we have to hit the ground running, and find a way to keep our head above water despite desperate and difficult circumstances. Knowing how you are built, reminds you that you can make a solution that works symbiotically with the natural abilities and experience you already possess. Knowing yourself and what you are capable of will help you develop your inner strength and cultivate unshakeable faith in you.
  3. When you know who you are, your capabilities, and your history, you will have the confidence to stay the course of your desired goals in life. Many of us talk about our dreams, desires, and aspirations…but actually putting the work in with dogged determination to achieve our goals is a whole ‘nother ball game. When you know how you’re built, you can assess the best course of action to tackle a goal. Living a life of dignity, integrity, and honoring your natural abilities and contribution to the planet will raise your self-esteem and positively influence others.
  4. Knowing how you’re built forces you to look into the mirror and acknowledge your fragility and human nature. You must ask yourself every day, especially in the face of adversity “Who am I?” and “Why do I make the decisions that I do?” Yes, some people act rashly out of circumstances beyond their control, acting in haste do to animalistic fears and the reptilian brain. However, when you ask yourself, “How am I built?” and “What can I do to change my thinking or actions, based on the resources I have before me?” These are reflective questions that can quiet the frantic brain and fearful heart, and bring solutions to the surface of the mind with crystal clarity.
  5. Knowing how you’re built means knowing when downtime is important. It is vital that we not just work smart and work hard, but make time for play and relaxation as well. We are not tireless machines, human beings, but complex multi-faceted organic beings. We need time to rejuvenate our ‘batteries’ by taking the time to read, watch TV, catch up on social media, relax with loved ones, or just have personal time. Whatever pastime we like to engage in, we should be fully engaged. Knowing how you’re built doesn’t mean that you have to play into your dominant character and the abilities that you exercise daily while at work or school. It is critical to our spiritual, mental, and physical wellness that we make time to balance ourselves with downtime.
  6. Challenges of the rough seas of life are something that someone who “Knows how they’re built,” welcomes with open arms. We know that by looking our fears straight in the eyes, taking a moment to assess the situation and come up with a solution, that we will find success with an understanding of the self and quiet determination. Rome was not built in a day, and overcoming challenges builds up our patience, self-esteem, wisdom, and determination to accrue more successes.

As the famous Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee said, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

 Remember, a diamond is nothing but a lump of coal. However, after surviving time, pressure, and the roughness of being cut and polished, it becomes a diamond.


  1. Knowing how you’re built will help you determine the type of life you want to lead, and the legacy you wish to pass on. Every day we wake up, we are offered a gift. We are given the opportunity to make choices about our life, which believe it or not, will have short-term and long-term effects. We are all connected, as no man is an island. Our actions and thoughts influence one another, create our habits, lifestyles, and create unbelievable changes in our world. We can choose to make one small act of kindness that goes unnoticed by many, focus solely on our inner world and shut people out, or constantly seek to compete with others. No matter what we do, we learn the lessons life seeks to teach us. Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction, as we live in a world of cause and effect. Knowing how you’re built can help us choose the best course of action to shape our lives for the better or worse.

I spend a lot of time considering the intersectionality of human identity, based on our culture, tradition, ethnic background, gender, sexuality, geographical location, education, and class. The phrase “Knowing how you’re built,” is a simple, but novel idea to do a mental and emotional check-in, especially when the chips are down in life. It is funny how it when we are really pushed to the limit; when things are beyond our control, that we are challenged to either fight or flee a circumstance that we grow so much. Second to this, I think most human growth occurs when we give of ourselves to other; cultivate empathy, travel, and have honest conversations with one another about shared life experiences.

I hope that you have a magic moment in your life, where you are challenged to “Know how you’re built,” and use it as a resource to build something great for yourself and perhaps even others. We can all use moments of clarity, a listening ear, or that frank advice that we didn’t understand, or didn’t want to hear until it was staring us down in the face and we had nowhere to turn. I wish you the best in 2017, to be a more prosperous, wiser, and more compassionate you.


Remember to have compassion, because at some point in our lives we may find ourselves in the position of the unwanted, the poor, the sick, the successful, the failure, and many other titles we place upon ourselves and others. Change is an inescapable part of the nature of our world and society. As the world becomes smaller, rapidly advancing technology shapes and molds how we communicate and see one another, and we experience widening gaps and closures within the human family regarding wealth, technology, and access… We still must carry on and live with one another.

As the late poet laureate, Maya Angelou said, “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.”

Knowing how you’re built makes room for the knowledge and wisdom we accrue from hard-earned experiences.  Embrace the good times and bad times of life, and may you grow and develop a rich human experience.





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Grit N Vinegar is the home of emerging writer, Alex Smith. Focusing on short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, Alex has been published in Sick Lit Magazine and often seeks out new places to submit her writing. Find me @gritNvinegar on Twitter!

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