Do You Know Who You Are?
There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self. Benjamin Franklin
You need to do more than knock on the door of your mind to know who is there. Who is there is who you are. Knowing who you are is knowing oneself, self-awareness. Self-examination, getting to know oneself, is extremely hard to do. Most people don’t bother. You need to look within for the purpose of self-discovery. The only journey is the journey within, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Maybe you should open the door and turn on the light in your brain attic. The brain attic is a well-known Sherlock Holmes metaphor. (See my blog, The Brain Attic, 9-25-14)Holmes believed that the human brain is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. The attic’s contents are those things we’ve taken in from the world and that we’ve experienced in our lives. We can’t control every piece of information that we retain, but we need to be aware of the mental filters that guard our attic’s entrance. What we put into it, and keep up to date, is up to us. We can turn on the light to gain self-understanding.
Opening the door, turning on the light, looking within to know oneself sounds easy but is not. Why not? We have a need to know and a fear of knowing. Abraham Maslow. Fear of knowing oneself is a deterrent to self-understanding. It leads to self-deception.
We are not very good at recognizing illusions least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves. Thomas Merton
The recipe for self-awareness is paying attention deliberately and voluntarily to what is going on inside. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Self-awareness becomes, what Daniel Goleman calls, an inner ruder, an inner guide. Self-awareness takes conscious effort. I believe that self-awareness is one of the most important, maybe the most important, individual mental resource.
To become efficient in self-awareness, you need to practice paying attention to what is going on inside. Knock on the door, turn on the light and look inside. Who are you? What are the reasons you are you? Why do you need to know? Do you have a desire to know? If believing is seeing and seeing is doing, do you know what you believe and the way you see things? To know one’s self is indeed hard to do. How important is it?
To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom, Socrates.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom, Aristotle