"Know Thyself"

"Know Thyself"

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

"Know Thyself," was the motto carved in stone on the entrance of the school founded by Greek Philosopher Plato.

Older civilizations such as the Chinese, Indian, Greek, Roman, Judaic and Hebraic traditions viewed the self-knowledge and understanding as the true mark of wisdom. Self-examination, then, was an essential component of higher education. Now, the only place it's usually done is in the counseling.

With the advance of materialism in the western hemisphere, the emphasis on self- understanding was lost. However, self-examination is making a comeback as the society struggles with such emotional afflictions as the depression, anxiety or anger.

I occasionally come across people who would say, "But, my problem (depression, anxiety, addiction, etc.) is chemical imbalance." I want to scream out loud and say, "You are a human being who thinks, feels and reasons in ways that can't be explained by a bunch of chemicals?" Since a tantrum on my part couldn't be helpful, I explain how our thoughts and emotions create chemicals and how chemicals in turn promote certain kinds of thoughts and feelings.

So, how should we arrive at true self-understanding? Let's not define ourselves by our excuses. First, we find excuses so we can save ourselves from embarrassment or hurt. Then excuses in turn become self-limiting beliefs.

Steven Chandler, author of 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, calls them, "lying to the soul." Lies are, in fact, explanations for fears, failures or helplessness. Then, the false explanations become truths, which then direct us to live a mediocre life. So, tell the truth to your soul.

Here are some myths that some of us perpetuate about ourselves:

"I am what I do." No, you are not what you do. To believe in such a myth is to reduce yourself to a fraction of who you really are. Moreover, were you to lose your job or physically disabled to do what you could once, such a belief can be devastating. This is how a disability turns into depression. The truth is that you are far greater and bigger than what you do.

Get rid of the idea: "There is something wrong with me." There is nothing wrong with you. You can always do better. Where ever you may be, you can always move forward physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,. You may have some problems, aches and pains, some illness, or deficiencies, but you can always work with them and around them. Not recognizing this truth leads to hopelessness, helplessness and eventually, despair.

Consider these beliefs: "I will never get better"; "I will never get what I want," or "I will never be happy." Whatever we work on improves. We most often find what we look for. But we need to recognize it when we find it. Those who believe they'll never find it, they miss it right under their nose.

Here is a story to illustrate the point: A man is sitting on the roof of his house as the whole village including his house is flooded. The water level is still rising. A man comes in a boat and asks him to get in, but, he said he is waiting for God to rescue him. Little later, a helicopter circles around and drops a rope and a chair for him to get aboard but the man said he wanted only God to rescue him.

"The drowning man goes to heaven and asks God, "Where were you when I needed you." God said, "I sent you a boat and a helicopter. Where were you?"

If there is a will, you will find the way to get there or as close to it as possible. If there is will to change, you can most certainly change. If you lack the will to change, nobody can show you how. Remember, it is easier to change yourself than someone else, but you got to be willing to change.

You say: "I am too old." You are not too old for anything. There are a few exceptions, though. For example, at age 50, you may be too old to grow taller. But, there are not too many such exceptions. So, don't talk yourself out of something before you even give it a try.

Don't evaluate your self-worth by failures. Rating your entire self-worth on the basis of a few bad performances is overgeneralization and inaccurate. Likewise, inflating your self-esteem on the basis of just a few good performances is also overgeneralization and inaccurate.

To be loved, liked and approved by others is most precious and joyous, but your existence doesn't depend on it. You can live without the love, liking and approval of anyone, if you want to.

Some truly believe that whenever they try to do better, they're knocked down. It is as if the universe, "the man upstairs" or some evil power is just waiting to whack them if they try to move on w

ith their lives. Such a belief hurts more than the actual setback.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietschez once said, "Whatever doesn't destroy me, strengthens me." Everything that doesn't destroy one is a blessing. How about that as a philosophy of life?

E-mail a link to this article to a friend. 

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2001, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor