Finding God's Winning Spirit

Know Thyself

January 29, 2016 | Greg Smith | Focus


As a therapist I can tell you with some certainty that there is nothing more important or powerful when it comes to mental health or personal fulfillment than “knowing oneself” – self-awareness is power. 

Sadly enough "knowing one's self" is not easy. When the ancient philosopher Thales of Miletus was asked, “What is the most difficult thing to know?” he answered, “Thyself.” There are a plethora of hurdles to clear when it comes to self-knowledge. First and foremost is the fact that we quite frankly have never spent much time pursuing it. Through various years of academia (or in any preparation for life) we have never spent a semester, a month, or even a week studying ourselves.

This seems shortsighted and unwise considering the only consistent thing we take into any situation is "us". Lawyers know more about the law, physicians know more about the human body and mechanics know more about engines than they do about themselves. This lack of self-knowledge may not be all that important in the courtroom, the operating room or the garage but it will be everywhere else.

Another hurdle to self-awareness is when it comes to understanding ourselves we prone to be liars. It is often hard to be honest with ourselves. Through denial, rationalization, pride, guilt and any other self-made defense mechanism, the truth is often hard to see. Ironically,we are often the worst person to rely on when it comes to the truth about who we are.

We cannot depend on others for personal revelation either. Feedback does not tend to work for at least three obvious reasons, first, others are limited in what they really know about us, second, they often have their own issues and agendas and third, we typically can't handle the truth anyway. After all, if I cannot be honest with myself what makes me think I can openly listen to anyone else?

I can go on and on about the barriers to self-awareness (there are more) but the point here is that really understanding who we are is not as easy as you might think. What then is the key to self-awareness? Where can we get some direction, some honest feedback and the courage to accept it?

That will be our task in the next blog – “Know Thyself” (Part Two)

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