Updated: Jul 22
Three Tips To Strengthen that Skill
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd know then thyself”
Visitors to the ancient temple that housed the sacred Oracle at Delphi were greeted with the words “gnōthi seautón”, which translates from the Greek to “know thyself.” One of the most important decisions you can make in your life is to decide what you want.
You cannot, however, know what you want unless you know who you are. Once you have a relationship with your inner self, knowing what you want becomes easier.
One thing I urge people I help to do again and again is to take personal responsibility. And I do want to be clear, when I say to take “personal responsibility”, I don’t mean for the world around you, there are things in life that we can not control, things that can hold us back, no matter how hard we try. But there will always be something we can control, and that is ourselves.
Nowhere is it more important to know yourself and what you want and need than in a relationship. Be it family, co-workers, spouses, partners, and everything in between.
When we are able to truly look inward, dealing with the ones around becomes easier.
When we know who we are, we are able to bend when necessary and stand strong when it goes against our core self.
Self-reflection becomes particularly difficult when looking at traits of the person in front of you that we have disowned in ourselves, traits we would rather not examine. This is what Carl Jung calls “the shadow”. This does not happen to be my area of expertise, I just want to bring it to your consciousness or awareness.
Here is an amazing article by Sim Campbell that goes in-depth around Shadow Work.
But how do you begin to truly get to know yourself? I’ve done hours upon hours of therapy, read every book I could get my hands on and had many a late night with a girlfriend and a bottle of wine and I have found there are three things that always set me up to do the hard work and keep me going when I just don’t want to look anymore.
1/Knowing myself Allows True Intimacy in Every Relationship.
Knowing thyself helps you in every relationship of your life, its all different sides of the same coin.
All the inner work has a payoff because when we know ourselves and our wants and needs, we are ready to share true intimacy with another. “Working towards intimacy is nothing short of a lifelong task.” Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. writes in her classic book on relationships, The Dance of Intimacy, (Harper Perennial, 1989). “The goal is to be in relationships where the separate “I-ness” of both parties can be appreciated and enhanced, and where neither competence nor vulnerability is lost sight of in the self or the other.
Intimacy requires a clear self, relentless self-focus, open communication, and profound respect for differences. It requires the capacity to stay emotionally connected to significant others during anxious times while taking a clear position for self, based on one’s values, beliefs, and principles.”
2/I'm not broken
Getting what you want in yourself, for yourself isn’t easy. One of the problems with self-help literature, although it has good intentions, is that it implies that we are somehow broken, that we need to be fixed.
When we actually slow down our busy lives, we see that everything about us is a gift. If we get brave, we can see that though we might not have all the tools to use these gifts, we are not broken, we just need to strengthen those traits that scare us or that we dislike. The noise in our heads saying “I’m bad, I’m broken,” keeps us from going forward.
Some of these traits we dislike or consider bad about ourselves could have been quite an efficient coping or survival mechanisms that may have saved your life.
3/Fully Embracing Every Piece of Me
Moving forward can only happen when you are kind and compassionate to yourself, and the good news is, if you’re reading this, you’re ready to grow.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.” writes the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
In my book, “ENOUGHNESS-the simple truth to embracing YOU” I go into greater detail about the work you can do to fully embrace who you are, where you are. Though it may be at times harrowing to do the deep inner work it takes to truly know ourselves, the rewards are enormous. In the end, the most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself.