The First Step Toward Self-Knowledge is Realizing You Don’t Have It
You think you know yourself, but you don’t. You never have self-knowledge; you gain it gradually, sometimes painfully.
You throw punches in the air until you gain self-knowledge.
Pretending you don’t sabotage yourself is like nursing on Xanax.
You have the impression that you know yourself because you live with yourself. But you’re blind to some of your strengths, weaknesses, and inclinations.
You see yourself in a steamy mirror. You see clearly only on the edges.
You consistently misjudge yourself.
Jung believed you have negative and positive attributes that you don’t see, a shadow self.
Growth happens when you catch a glimpse of your shadow self.
People light up when they realize they have abilities they hadn’t seen. You grow when you exercise untapped abilities. You also grow when you see things you don’t like in yourself, if you own them.
When I was young, I didn’t see my own self-centeredness. I’m still self-centered but seeing myself is an opportunity to move toward other-centeredness.
I have negative ‘talents’ I don’t like. If arrogance is a talent, I’m wildly talented. Giving second chances feels unnatural, but anger is second nature. I’m inclined to talk before I listen and make judgements quickly.
I don’t want to be my darker self, but sometimes I am.
My inclination toward arrogance fuels my interest in humility. The first step was catching glimpses of my shadow self. Others helped me see.
You see a foreshadowing of yourself when you catch a glimpse of your shadow self.
Growth begins when you own untapped abilities or self-destructive inclinations.
You learned to walk when you realized you were crawling.
Complacency about self-awareness today becomes vengeance tomorrow.
Self-knowledge requires others.
You learn who you are when you reveal yourself to another.
How might we gain self-knowledge?
How might we help others gain self-knowledge?
This is powerful! How I wish I had this kind of guidance in my early twenties, when I desperately needed to be liked for who I THOUGHT I was. The combination of need and self-deception delays, or prevents, actual growth. Thanks, Dan!
Thanks Randy. Bringing the need to be liked into this conversation is powerful. It’s like adding steam to the mirror.
Gosh I love this blog…
Robert Burns wrote,
“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as ithers see us. It wad frae monie a blunder free us. And foolish notion.”
The problem is, we can’t see ourselves as others see us. That’s another reason leadership and associated relationships are so important.
Proverbs 27.17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I have been fortunate to cultivate a network of “iron men” among my friends and colleagues who have helped me see myself through the eyes of others and perhaps know myself a bit better.
Thanks Jim. This is a powerful truth. Self-reflection done in isolation is deception. (Perhaps that’s an overstatement, but not much.) We need quiet reflection AND we need others to speak into our lives.
It can be transformative to see yourself through the eyes of someone else.
I agree with Randy, this is truly one of the most powerful messages I’ve received here. I think I knew, and felt the power, of the shadow self before this post. A glimpse of the positive shadow self is exhilerating but, as with most things we don’t care to see, some of the negative shadow self sightings have been buried among those things that make me uncomfortable about myself, others, and the world in general. My own bouts with the imposter syndrome don’t help here either.
I was fortunate enough in my early years to have others who saw promise in me and helped cultivate it. I am forever thankful to my husband, former boss, and my mother for helping make me the person I am today. I still have work to do, but I dread to think of where I might be without their love and guidance. I am truly a lucky woman.
Thanks Laurie. Wow, the imposter syndrome really applies here. Thanks for adding your insight.
It’s so great when others see the good in us that we don’t see.
This is so good – thank you for your honesty and transparency. Alcoholic Anonymous has it right with step 1: you have to be willing to admit you have a problem – that is the foundation. Sometimes you stumble into self-discovery and sometimes other people will tell you – both are painful as you noted, but this level of honesty has the chance to heal your insides and those that you love and do life with.
Thanks Travis. Love the image of stumbling into self-knowledge. Something happens, someone says something, and the light comes on. We have to squint at the brightness, but eventually we adjust. 🙂
I’m “lucky” that my job finds a way, pretty much every day, to remind me I DON’T know everything, and that I have to keep learning all the time. A gift that never stops giving, maybe.
The shadow self is an odd one. I know what is in there, and every once in a while I struggle to not let it go and rip through whatever is bothering me.
Thanks Mitch. I had to smile at your first line. Frankly, there have been times when my job tried to tell me I DIDN’T know everything, but I didn’t listen! 😉 Cheers
I appreciate this post and your honest reflection and transparency. Knowing yourself requires others. How do you find those people who will help you? Is what you discover through them, their image of who you are and might be different than who you are?