Socrates believed self-knowledge was essential. Today, we wonder if there’s even a self to know
There was a day when I thought I knew myself. It was terrifying and traumatic, and I suspect I am still recovering from the experience.
The reason is quite simple.
We are as human beings very complex creatures.
No two minds think the same.
In understanding one’s self, you have to acknowledge the uniqueness of us all. We might all look a bit the same but inside our minds there in lies the difference.
Our sense of self, comes from an acceptance of the context in which we have lived and in which we live today. These can be very different. Our childhood’s experiences often are the influence of living with our parents in whatever world they chose to live in. We had no say; we learned from them, we participated in their experiences.
As we grew older many of us questioned our childhoods, moved away from home, established ourselves in a world we found we fitted into and set about making our mark in it.
I think it is fair to say we lived different lives to that of our parents, in the same way, I expect my children to live very different lives to the one I gave them.
So, in the end, my sense of self is mine.
It doesn’t mean I am complacent, it doesn’t mean I have left any fantasies or longings behind. The are still part of who I am. I think the sense of self is the acceptance of who you are in terms of an acknowledgement of what you perceive your strengths and weaknesses to be.
That acceptance is often the most difficult bit of all. Like realising as much as I might have wanted to be a test cricketer, I found life offered me far too many distractions, and so I was never able to devote the time to cricket that I might otherwise have done. That combined with a questionable talent was also at the back of things.
We go through life understanding that our self is an evolving part of us. We need to keep our minds open to discovery and learning. Our self craves such things, complacency leads us to stagnation, and for many of us, that realisation can be the end as we shut our sense down.
Discovering our sense of self is not easy.
Most times we discover stuff we’d rather not discover.
Often it is accepting our limitations.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, it’s coming to terms with who we are after looking inside and realising why it is we are popular or not to those looking on and how that affects the view we have of ourselves.
Either way, we carry on, we move forward, we grow in acceptance and understanding, we embrace our unique characters, our flaws become part of our identification of what makes us who we are.