Knowing Yourself is Difficult But Not Impossible

Self-knowledge sets in motion the freedom and commitment to fulfil yourself as a person. Achieving it will allow you to open the door to happiness.
Knowing Yourself is Difficult But Not Impossible

Last update: 16 September, 2021

To live your life freely, you need to know yourself. This doesn’t mean knowing your name, what you like to have for breakfast, or what you want or don’t want to do. In fact, it means knowing those parts of you that are so difficult for you to look at and that hurt so much when others dare to point them out to you.

What is it that hurts you so much? What are you rejecting about yourself? Perhaps it’s envy or pride, or maybe cowardice. Indeed, these are some of the qualities that every human being possesses, yet that some deny and many others reject.

You can try turning your face away from those parts of you but they’ll still be there. As a matter of fact, knowing yourself isn’t easy, but neither is it impossible.

Legend says know thyself (or nosce te ipsum, as it’s written in the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi) and you’ll know the whole Universe and the gods. Furthermore, you’ll know your flaws and your virtues.

In fact, knowing yourself is the basis for developing all the human potential you carry within yourself. Everyone’s different, yet we all have the ability to give the world something that others can’t. Get to know yourself and you’ll discover what it is.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” 

-Socrates-.

Seeking approval from others

The difficult thing about getting to know yourself is meeting with those parts of you that you reject. What should you do with them? Let’s think, for example, of those feelings of anger that sometimes take you over. When this happens, it’s important to observe both the feeling and the situation that caused it. Then you need to make a decision. Do you let the emotion out or do you repress it?

Unknown woman in front of a mirror

As a rule, you repress the emotion. In fact, by doing this, you’re actually letting it grow and grow until, one day, you let it out uncontrollably. You made the decision to hold it in because you worried about what others would think if they saw you in a state of fury. The kind of state where you find yourself listening to phrases like “calm down”, “it’s not so bad”, or ” “what’s the matter with you? You’ve gone crazy”.

As a matter of fact, you can’t stand the idea that others might reject you, blame you, and make you feel ashamed. Indeed, thinking about how others are going to act if you express how you feel makes you not want to accept that this is a part of you.

You rationalize the situation from a superficial level. Therefore you completely ignore any emotion that could tear down that wall you’ve built with your pain. It’s a pain that’s been brewing over the years due to the multiple disappointments in your life.

To know yourself, the important thing is to ask yourself: could I love myself if I let myself feel and express all those negative emotions, or would it fill me with guilt, shame, and fear? The answer you give is extremely important because it’ll give you the key to realize how conditioned you are by others. Furthermore, you’ll learn how many things you allow yourself to feel and express or not.

The freedom that comes with knowing yourself

On the way to knowing yourself, you need to be aware of how and why you react the way you do to various stimuli. For example, when anger emerges, you should simply observe it, without judging and without entering into confrontation with it.

In this way, you’ll become aware of the thoughts that arise in your mind and how you behave. You might, at this point, feel compelled to blame others for your behavior. However, this shouldn’t interest you, because what you want to know is yourself. You’re wanting to discover you

You don’t want to interpret actions, but to explore yourself. In this way, you’ll start to realize the number of occasions you experience those same feelings and in what circumstances. It may make you feel extremely responsible, resentful, or even powerless. This is your internal dialogue speaking to you.

Sad woman symbolizing not knowing oneself

As a matter of fact, the deeper you’re able to dig, the more insight and answers you’ll receive. In fact, in this state of exploration, of knowing yourself, you can discover how ingrained your behaviors and habits are.

The way you’ve been reacting you probably learned in your childhood. This is because, as a child, you didn’t possess enough skills to fulfill your wishes and you needed others to do it for you.

“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”

-Thales of Miletus-.

Once you understand your way of reacting, as well as the fear and basic desire that’s always behind your anger, it becomes easier to escape. You’re no longer a child, you can take charge of your own life, and meet your own needs without waiting for others to do so.

Knowledge and freedom

In summary, knowing yourself is essential in order to conquer your freedom. You start to understand the meaning of your emotions, listen deeply to them, and replace your usual automatic reactions with conscious decisions. You achieve this thanks to your intimate knowledge of what’s really happening to you.

To live freely you need to know who you are. To follow the path advised by your inner self. Indeed, knowing yourself is essential to being happy.

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