You are free to know peace no matter your uncertainty.
Even though we spend an inordinate amount of time with ourselves, strangely, it’s remarkably hard to understand what we want, how we feel, and why we react as we do. This lack of self-knowledge can be acutely dangerous. It makes us get into the wrong relationships, pick unsatisfactory jobs, and spend money unwisely and many more. In Ancient Greece, Socrates famously declared that the unexamined life was not worth living. Knowing yourself has extraordinary prestige and has been framed as quite literally the meaning of life.
While we all have some ideas about who we are, the knowledge we have is often patchy, and we have few opportunities to be guided in reflecting on our personality traits. In other words, not everything that we can know about ourselves is all that important to find out sometimes.
Before going ahead, Let’s do an exercise: Draw your nuclear family on a sheet of A4; putting in parents + you + siblings + house + sun + a tree.
Here we want to focus on the areas of self-knowledge that matter most in life: the areas concerned with the inner psychological core of the self. Without knowing who we are, we tend to have particular trouble coping with either denigration or adulation. Let’s see if you can relate to these feelings first :
- If others decide that we are worthless or bad, there will be nothing inside us to prevent us from swallowing their verdicts in their entirety, however wrong-headed, extreme, or unkind they may be. We’ll trail public opinion slavishly, constantly checking the world’s whims rather than consulting an inner barometer in order to know what we should want, feel, and value.
- On certain days, we are sad and yet can’t identify the cause of an upset that lingers powerfully somewhere in our minds, just out of reach of consciousness. The more we leave the sadness unattended, the more it starts to color everything we are involved with. Our experiences become tasteless, a mute fog descends over consciousness.
- Sometimes we feel confusedly anxious. Our thoughts refuse to settle. We try to find relief by escaping from ourselves with our phone or a game. Our eyelid starts to twitch, we gnaw at a patch of hard skin on a finger; our mind knows there are matters we should be focusing on but they elude understanding and spread their nervous electricity across the range of our thoughts.
- Sometimes we may feel irritable; we snap and fly into a sudden titanic rage, not really clear of the actual reason.
- In the midst of a positive vein, we may feel a mysterious excitement because we hear of a highly original project masterminded by a friend or read of a new kind of enterprise or see an admirable thought-provoking documentary. We are being sensibly, but inarticulately summoned in a new direction. The excitement doesn’t leave us alone, but nor does it say in plain terms what it wants.
An underrated truth!
We are all in the same game called ‘Life’, just different levels. Some might have already overcome few of the devils, some are yet to reach there.
In either way, be the first one to understand and show love, compassion and patience to everyone you meet.
Be it at any side – whether you yourself are going through this, or you see someone going through this. Be kind. If I had to select one quality to live with, this would be it. Kindness is not a weakness, rather its very powerful.
We can, by being generously selfless more often take our own sides and feel increasingly solid inside, trusting ourselves with some of the ultimate truths of our own. Having come to know ourselves like this, we will be a little less hungry for praise, a little less worried by the opposition – and much more original in our thinking. We will have learned the vital art of both knowing and befriending who we really are.
Few insights from the above exercise you can use to identify yourself, to begin with – remember this is suggestive – not science :
- who you draw yourself next to is who you are closest to.
- who’ve you put furthest away is emotionally most distant.
- the size you have drawn yourself is the size of your self-esteem.
- the house is an extension of yourself: it is the ego. Is it in good shape? Beautiful? In Order?
- Windows imply your degree of communication. The more windows/larger windows you have, the more comfortable you are to communicating your feelings.
- Does your house have a door? It implies how comfortable you are showing people your vulnerability.
No one is born with an independent ability to know who they are. Realizing that we lack a stable identity is a sobering realization. But we can, with a fair wind, start to help ourselves at any point. 🌻