How do you get to know yourself?

Thinking clip art#1

How do you really get to know yourself?  We all think we know ourselves better than anyone else but do we?  Aren’t we all just far too emotionally involved to see our own selves with true objectivity?

We are so wrapped up in how we want to be, or how we fear we might be, that we are unable to see ourselves as we truly are.  How many times have you expressed an opinion about yourself, only to have a friend say something along the lines of “oh don’t be silly, of course you’re not?”  It happens to me all the time and, like a lot of other people I tend to react with something like “yes I am, you’re just being nice.”

Maybe they’re not just being nice.  Maybe their objectivity enables them to see us as we truly are, whereas we cannot because of our hang ups, fears, desires or childhood emotional baggage.  I’m not saying this is universal truth, but I am saying maybe.

So how do we get to really know ourselves as we really are?  I start with questions to myself.  Why do I feel this way?  Why do I have this opinion of myself?  How does my opinion of myself differ from the opinions of other people?  What could be the reason for this difference?  The answers I come up with sometimes lead to more questions and I keep on asking and answering until I come to a possible outcome.  Sometimes that outcome is not comfortable for me because it requires me to consider that my own comfortable opinion may be wrong, but even so I keep hold of it and turn it around in my mind.  I hold it alongside my own, normal opinion and keep them both there for a while, just to see how it feels and sometimes I’ll allow this new opinion to affect my behaviour for a few minutes and see how it feels and how others react.  If the reactions I see are favourable then great, it can lead to change of my own opinion.

The thing is, opinions and views are things we learn from experience.   We’re not born thinking we’re fat or ugly or stupid.  We learn to feel that way through our experiences and our reactions to those experiences are the basis for our opinions.  Over time, our reactions become habitual and automatic and we stop really experiencing events and just use our usual, learned reactions.  In order to begin to make changes, we first have to stop allowing habit to govern how we react to our experiences.  We have to try to experience each situation and interaction as if it were the first time it was happening and allow ourselves to work out how to react to this situation now from the experience itself, not habits learned decades ago.

Of course this takes presence of mind and control of one’s emotions but once you get into the habit (there’s that word again) of it, it becomes routine to check your reactions each time and make sure they’re appropriate.  Once you find your old opinions and views about yourself revealed as no longer totally appropriate for you as you are now, you can let old emotional baggage go, or at least slip a little further away and begin to find yourself again.

Then you can start to live your life with the blinkers off and learn to enjoy the view.

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