The Self That We Know and Our Desire to Grow

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Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5

The maxim “know thyself” is derived from Socrates’ statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” To know ourselves then, we need to assess the way we live our lives.

Understanding ourselves leads to knowing who we are. Our inclinations and observed tendencies provide us adequate perceptions about who we are and who can we ever be.

With this self-recognition, when we consider others weaknesses, strengths, and possibilities, we mirror our own limitations with them. This comparison or mirroring of ourselves with others, lead us to develop a sort of power to guess how people would react, with the common experiences we retain as precedents. Our interactions with acquaintances, colleagues, and friends, build up our reputation that defines us as perceived and described by people. What we say to get along with others is relative to the situation we are in, the status of the person we are dealing with, or intentions we might have.

Our behaviors leave an impression that ultimately identify us as persons and that identity provide the expectations that would keep us consistent and trusted. One would take a role model who would provide a life direction.

The continuous development of a self-concept or personality comes from information gathered from experiences becoming useful memory for the different areas in our lives. Defining our self-concept is like writing our autobiographies, recollecting events that we want others to know about us.

Knowing ourselves cannot be too general for we do not always make the same decisions, so much so that the same questions or conflicts we encounter have different considerations. But the best test to understand ourselves is in the manner we handle distressing circumstances. The ethical reasons or respects for the common good should prevail as our capacity to cope with pains, failures, and defeats are challenged. We must never forget, the decisions we make while may be hard to accept defines who we really are. [The Philosophy of Finding Meaning in Life]

Intelligence in its practical sense is our ability to put together information, synthesize it, and from these extract the bases for decisions in life. At some point, we even try to deceive ourselves to keep our beliefs, fooling ourselves by controlling conflicting evidence or make excuses in order to achieve our personal goals.

The Christian view of knowing one’s self is established in Romans 12:3-5, as Paul wrote, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Inevitably, we cannot understand ourselves without recognizing how we associate with our fellow human beings. This Christian concept of being a part of one body tries to do away of our selfish dispositions, instead, we find relevance in synergy. Each of us is a vital part that makes up the whole body. Every part is equally important for specific purposes so that the body is well enough to work and succeed.

Understanding ourselves involves finding our place in society and significantly in the universe! It is by spending time with the people that will determine the meaning of our being. In the company of others will understand our purpose and roles. As our daily lives demand to get in touch others, it leads to the discovery of our gifts and talents as along the way is the process of finding our purposes. Examining the way we interact with others keep us attuned with the society.

We hate being dictated by others for we are not and will never understand ourselves that way. Instead, we long for guidance. Jesus directs His believers saying, with “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV). With our liberties, Jesus tells us that He can guide us as we call on Him in prayer. By this, we recognize that we are not alone as we try to get pass over the fears that deter us with our plans to achieve.

The details that make up our personality are ascertained as we become aware of our strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes and by what we hope and dream for. We get a better understanding of our self as we observe and mind our moods, reactions, and responses to the circumstances surrounding us. Being aware of internal attributes like our moods and emotions and the externals brought about by the environment critically affect our state of mind.

Life experiences are the best lessons as they say. Listening to and reflecting on other peoples’ experience are hints to avoid pain, defeat, and even inopportune endings. But even if we have committed some mistakes, or regret our past decisions, comparing one’s self to others should be taken like qualitative research.

Fulfilling a vision of a person’s future self as successful is a positive attitude. However, one must be realistic not to over-inflate the possibilities for once such goal is not met its corresponding frustration would take its toll. Looking at ourselves in the future should be pursued as series of short segments advancing to the long-term future self with every step leading to success.

It would be interesting to stretch beyond one’s self by daring to do something different. But this shouldn’t be done in desperation but pursued as an opportunity to experience a break from our routines and hopefully discover new possibilities. After all, life has to be experienced.

Ideally, as we grow to maturity, the self we know should imbibe core values such as honesty and integrity. From which the feelings of security, flexibility, and financial comfort begin. As we come to really understand ourselves, we would think twice to be sensitive to value loyalty over excellence, responsibility above ambition, and innovation beyond improvement.


Listen to Steve Job’s parting words


Related Articles:

Know Thyself by John D. Mayer Ph.D.

5 Ways To Find Meaning In Your Life by Juanita Gomez

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