“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
― Lao Tzu
Throughout history, religious and mystical teachers have emphasized the importance of knowing yourself. They have universally recognized inward inquiry as the path toward wisdom and outward fulfillment.
In the 20th century, psychology ushered in a new arena for this inquiry. Psychology – and its effect on our social consciousness – kick-started the now 10-billion-dollar self-help industry, which provides everything from genius insight and guidance to quackery.
Sadly, the personal development industry often sells ineffective solutions to the human condition. This is because personal development authors and leaders don’t consider the actual mechanism necessary to produce the solution desired. For example, an author or leader might stress the importance of knowing oneself, but fail to realize that most people don’t know what this actually means.
The greatest example of this disconnect is the longstanding insistence that telling one’s story and understanding one’s past is sufficient to create change. This thinking states that someone who told their story and rooted through their past and – yet – things had not changed for them must have some part of them left uncovered.
Jung, whose insights penetrated far past the interpretations of his work, said: “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
A camp of psychologists called Behaviorist challenged this insistence. Their work began by extrapolating how to create change based on the behavioral patterns they observed in mice. They focused on changes to behavior in place of changes to understanding.
While the field of psychology learned quite a bit from these differing approaches, I believe they each largely missed the mark in their attempt to help a person thrive within the human condition.
Fulfillment doesn’t simply come when we change our behavior nor does it come when we excessively comb through our past. Rather, it’s the result of the wisdom gained from internal inquiry expressed through our day-to-day experience.
Jesus said, “He who has not known himself does not know anything, but he who has known himself has also know the depth of all.”
Unfortunately, the path to apply this knowledge is nowhere to be found in religious texts. There have been many superficial maps that guide the way to self-knowledge. Most often, these maps are dictates for social conduct. The actual guidance is only spoken about in mystical traditions.
The way I see it, wisdom is the key that opens the door to our selves and self-knowledge. We’re able to create inspired lives that make a difference when we rely on and apply our wisdom.
So, how do we apply our wisdom and access our deep self-knowledge?
I say start with Self-Love! To me, self-love is the total acceptance of ALL of who you are.
Yet – if I had a dime for every time someone asked me: “How can I start loving myself” or “What does self-love even mean?”
If you Google self-love, you’ll get a lot of answers like “do what you love” and “pay it forward.” While these practices help, they generally don’t get us there because they emphasize behavioral shifts alone.
You can read this quote and quite likely it touches you in some way. “You can search through the entire universe for someone more deserving of your love and affection than yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself as much as anyone in the universe deserve your love and affection.” Buddha
You KNOW it’s true. But how do you actually get there?
The mechanism for getting there begins with looking inward – to begin the search for your deeper nature inside yourself. This, however, is only one half of the process. As you look in, you must look outside yourselves and begin to take normal and prescribed action in your world. At this juncture you either gain more wisdom and fulfillment or more pain based on how you apply the information you receive. You can see what happens next as guidance in the direction of your true nature or you can see it as another obstacle.
The truth is: there is no difference between “loving yourself” and “being yourself.”
When we use all of our interactions with the world to guide us in the direction of our true and deep nature and then choose to express our nature to the world, we experience the deepest form of self-love possible.
When we do this with others, it is loving them.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
― C.G. Jung
When it comes to the “true self”, one fixed point for contemplation is the relationship between your ego your essence. The terms “true self,” “ego,” and “essence” are broad and have many associations attached to them. So, for this week’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can make your ego work for you as a tool to help you fully unearth your true self.
We need to have a working connection with our true self to feel a sense of success and fulfillment. Put another way, it’s only through our connection with our true self that we’re able to feel satisfied by the positive outcomes of our efforts.
Our ego is both an obstacle and an ally. On one hand, if our ego runs a-mock and rules every decision we make, it would be impossible to experience our true self. On the other hand, our ability to fully access and express our true self emerges with the help of our ego.
Personal development work requires that you become aware of your ego and your true self. Further, this work teaches you how to use the many aspects of who you are in a productive way.
There are several common problems that people encounter along their path of personal development. The main problem is that – once we realize that we’ve previously been totally consume by our ego – we forget that we’re actually part of something much greater than ourselves.
As Eva Perakkos says:
If she’s right and we do indeed forget to draw on the infinite richness always ever-present outside ourselves, what can we do to change this? How can we live from our true self more fully? How can we connect to our true self so that we can create richer and fuller lives?
I propose that we look at the ego as if it were a tool. Think of it this way: if I can use a hammer, then it can serve me. If I think I’m a hammer, then I will be used by something else to serve some other end (and most likely hit up against something quite hard in the process.)
The only way that we can stay conscious of our ego is to employ it.
Again Eva Perrakos puts it very well:
Here’s the catch! If you’re not careful, you can easily fall under the spell of your ego and confuse it with your true self.
You can’t get rid of your ego, and you can’t ignore it either. And if you stop using it to help draw out your true self, you’re likely to fall under its illusion.
So. How can you make your ego work for you? Well. You can draw on the will of your ego to focus yourself on removing obstacles to your true self. You can also work on strengthening the lived experience of your true self so that it becomes less and less of a concept and more and more of an indelible part of your every-day experience.
What this means is that you’ve got to train your ego to sense and support the expression of your true self. The truth is that you really can feel into your true self. To do this, you need to use your ego to plug into the wants, needs and full expression of your deeper self and remove the obstacles to it along the way. All the while, keep your eye on your ego so that you do not fall under its spell.
Awareness, of all kinds, is not the end of the road. Rather, it’s part of a cycle. Once we have an awareness we need to learn how to apply it, live it, work with it.
After years of working my tail off, I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself one of two things was going to happen. Either I was going to compromise my health or I was going to compromise my results.
Self care became my battle cry. Over time, I learned the undeniable merits of self-care. I also came to understand that practicing self-care can sometimes be difficult to fit into a busy day-to-day schedule. When I made my practice of self-care a priority, both my health and my ability to get better results increased. This was a win-win for my life.
My strongest suggestion to help you be your personal best is: Self Care, Self Care, Self Care!
Self Care is an investment in your personal resources. Whether the achievement of your goals requires a lot or a little of your resources, you need to take care of your most important tool – your self.
Here is a list of 10 self care techniques you can use to be your personal best.
Give a Damn. Make a Difference.
Dr. Kate Siner
Change can be a great thing. A new routine, or a new perspective, can really revitalize your life and sense of well-being. But what about the times when change presents a challenge? How can you build up your energy and joy when changes in your life leave you feeling drained?
For this week’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can bolster your happiness in your everyday life. Because, the truth is that when you’re connected to your sense of joy, you’re better equipped to work with change when it comes your way.
We all too often forget that happiness takes practice. The good news is that small things can make a big impact on your sense of well-being.
Here are 5 small things you can do to cultivate happiness in your day-to-day life, no matter what comes your way.
1. Start Positive
2. Look for It
3. Get Clear On What Makes You Happy
4. Say “Thank You”
5. Slow Down
Life is always a mix of things. No matter how bad a day seems, there’s always something in it that’s positive. Use the list above to help you focus in on the good that’s present in life’s simple, daily events. These simple things can add up quick and drastically increase your happiness.