Knowing Others To Know Ourselves Better

He who knows others is wise.
He who knows himself is enlightened.
– Lao-Tzu

Do you spend enough time getting to know yourself? The reason I’m asking you this question is because, on almost a daily basis, we face situations in which we are required to know ourselves in order to make the correct choices or to act in the right way. We all feel that we know ourselves better than anybody else knows us but, is this always true?

It’s impossible to over-emphasize how crucial it is to know who we really are. I’m speaking about our true selves; not about the person we think we ought to be or the person we are when we’re in company. But how can we really know our true selves? Of course, meditation is one path. Psychological counseling is another; or Enneagram work (just to name a few examples). However, there’s also another path to which we have access constantly: our interactions with others.

It’s an interesting exercise to get out of our heads for a moment and notice how we respond to other person’s words and actions. We can ask ourselves when we feel the most at ease; and we can notice the personality traits of our friends and colleagues. Why do we love to have those persons around? What does that tell us about ourselves? The discoveries we make through this small personal exercise can be surprising, even if not always in a positive way. Sometimes we find out things about ourselves we had never noticed before – things that shock us, or even make us uncomfortable. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects and getting worried or feeling disappointed, decide what you want to change; and work with that aspect of you which you had so far neglected.

Very often, the opposite happens: we notice qualities we had never realized we had. Seeing ourselves in a positive light is always necessary because it reminds us that, no matter how ‘flawed’ we may think ourselves, we always have great and beautiful things to offer to others.

Have you ever done this little exercise? If not, how about you try it this week? I would love to read about your experience at docbeverly@aol.com.

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