Versions of this aphorism have been credited to numerous men of stature through the ages. Women, not so much.
It seems to me that even now, almost 20 years into the 21st century, women are still rarely encouraged to truly get to know themselves. Our knowledge of ourselves is, more often than not, received and viewed through the filter of those around us, rather than via our own perceptions and exploration based self knowledge. This results in us receiving skewed data from sources that are working from their own agenda. This agenda isn’t necessarily bad, though often it can be, regardless though, if we put more store in someone else’s ideas of who we are, the shit is going to hit the fan eventually.
I’m slowly uncovering the ways in which I’ve ingested other people’s opinions about who this person called Techla is. What I’m discovering is that pretty much every belief I’ve ever held about myself, has been founded on someone else’s
bullshit misunderstanding projections.
I think this is pretty normal for most women – I can’t comment for men because a. I’m not one, and b. finding men who are willing to talk about these sorts of things is rather like finding rocking horse shit.
Before I started to write this post I did a google search of the title, it brought up an interesting article that suggested that the premise of the saying is not just silly, but actually dangerous. My curiosity was obviously piqued, given that my experience has been that NOT knowing myself has been dangerous!
What the author of the article (a professor of philosophy no less) was saying makes sense, in some ways, but only in so far as we accept that who we are is a static creature of habit. Their argument was that, by knowing ourselves, we will become dogmatic in our choices, limiting our freedom to grow and change over time. I can see their point here, but I would argue that by knowing ourselves, we become much more capable of growth, and where appropriate, change.
We all change over time, and we all also remain the same in some ways too. I suspect just how much we change (or not), depends rather heavily on how prepared we are (or aren’t) to …. get to know ourselves!
I suppose that if you have a life that you define as successful (however that looks to you), then the impetus to get to know yourself is unlikely to be as strong as if you’re unhappy or dissatisfied with your lot.
If, on the other hand, your life is a stinking great shit show of despair, then getting to know yourself on a deep (not superficial) level could just be your ticket out of that awful place. It’ll take a tonne of courage, there’s no two ways about it, but the potential pay off has to be worth any discomfort along the way.
What’s perhaps even more important here is this: when you get to know yourself through your own filters, you’ll be much less likely to perpetuate the cycle of judgement. That’s one of the ways in which we can heal the legacy of inter-generational trauma, and THAT is world changing.