You can´t. At least not with your rational/thinking mind alone. “Gnothi seauton” is an old greek quote meaning “know thyself/yourself”. To live a satisfying and honourable life that definitely is a good piece of advice to follow. The problem, however, is that there are many different layers of what this “you” in “yourself” can mean, what it all might summarise. Are we a body? A mind? A body constructing a mind? A soul? Consciousness?
I don´t think it is for our rational, thinking mind to fully understand the wholeness of ourselves, it is simply not built for that. There is also some information saved in us, that is not directly and completely available for a very good reason, it is too much of a threat to your healthy functioning mind. Other information is not available because it´s simply not important enough at the moment. But don´t think for a second that those memories you are not aware of don´t influence your behaviour and decisions, they definitely do.
I like to compare us to a computer or machine that has different parts. Some handle small portions of information fast, which for me equals the thinking/rational mind. Some parts handle big piles of information but they are way slower, that is the huge storage of pre-or unconscious memory and information we have. What is needed in this system is a third party that helps with the transport of the information, when needed in the faster part of the machine and that to me is our emotions, feelings, inspirations, our intuition. We culturally inherited the belief, that it is noble to suppress our emotions and stay purely focused on our rational mind. For some time in the history of mankind that was an important and needed step to create the cultural beings that we are now and all of our great achievements. But like a pendulum, I think, life has to move, mankind has to move. The doctrines have to change their directions from time to time, simply because that is what life is: movement, change as well as order. So here we are, unlearning the precious things we have worked so hard on learning over centuries: to not simply suppress our emotions, feelings, inspirations etc. anymore and at the same time to not let them sweep us away, to follow our intuition but be mindful and calculated about it.
Our intuition, being connected to that huge database we hold, can only communicate in the basic language of gut feelings, meaning: (more of a) good or a bad feeling. Much like a compass: a simple plate with letters painted on it and a piece of metal gives information to big forces that are at work on earth. But good or bad feeling about what? The intuition can not work in an empty space, it needs information to say “good feeling”/”yes” or “bad feeling”/”no” to, that’s where our rational thinking mind comes in.
Your intuition will never tell you “go down to the lake and take a breather, that will calm your nervous system, what will optimate your brain function so you will find the solution to your problem”. It waits until you pause your analytical mind long enough for your bodily feelings to come through to your consciousness. (The same counts for our emotions because they are interpretations of physical processes too.) So you get the message that you don´t feel so good in that pause of the analytical mind. Now your rational thinking mind can make suggestions on how to better the situation and your intuition can guide you along. You might wonder if you feel cold and get a “no” feeling. You might wonder if you are thirsty and get a “yes” feeling, so you drink something and check-in again. It feels better but there is still something and you wonder what it is until you discover that your back feels tight. You might get the idea to take a run what gives you an “ok” feeling but not the best you could have. Finally, your mind suggests taking a walk and that idea feels the best, it feels right. So will you take a walk by the street? Warm feeling but could be warmer. Maybe you better go to the lake. Good feeling, warm feeling, hit the spot, won the price.
Long story short: Your feeling is always right. Even if your mind doesn´t get it (yet), never dismiss them as unimportant. If you can´t tent to them right now, because of external circumstances, make the mental note to come back to it later. When you get a quiet moment, listen to your feeling that there was something you wanted to do, something you wanted to come back to. Take brakes, and by that, I don´t mean stop doing one thing and start doing another straight away like stop working and go to lunch. Take real breaks where you are just sitting with your eyes and ears closed, your mind not analysing anything. That takes 30 seconds, you have 30 seconds, if not you really need to change your life. If you need to remind yourself to take brakes use an alarm clock. And first and foremost: don´t forget that you are a student, learning to listen to emotions, intuition etc. again. We all are. For some it is easier, for some harder, that’s also a question of personality structures, but it is a process for all of us and it is possible for all of us. Our development task (and yes, even as an adult we have development tasks) is to find the balance between the rational mind and emotional intelligence, doing and resting etc. And for god´s sake have fun with it, don´t take yourself and your life so serious. You won´t get out of it alive, you might as well count your good shots and forget about the failings, simply listen to your emotions and insights better the next time, that will do.