Nosce te ipsum – Know Thyself
I’ve always wanted to drop a little latin in one of our posts, so goals are being achieved already! History is littered with reference to exactly this. It is rumoured to have been chiselled into the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
The phrase was later expounded upon by the philosopher Socrates who taught that: The unexamined life is not worth living.
It means to know, first and foremost, your own character and it is important because only by knowing your character can one be aware of your limitations. Put more simply, it is only by knowing your character that you can try and improve or make the right decisions in your life.
Change is challenging enough, without our inherent refusal to see who we are, and how we chose to do things. To magnify this challenge, we are exceedingly effective at dismissing even the possibility that we might change.
Psychologists have titled this the infinitely catchy: ‘The End of History Illusion’. This theory opines that we all think that who we are now is the finished product: we will be the same in five, 10, 20 years.
But, as these psychologists found, this is completely delusional – our preferences and values will be very different already in the not-so-distant future.
Take me for example. I smoked and at no point could I see the time when I would not. I haven’t smoked for 10 years.
Projecting what we think we are, not who we are, is what we do daily, to our own detraction. How to know thyself?!
There are numerous methods we can adopt in an attempt to get closer to our true self. Engaging in silent meditation, parasympathetic breathing, or other meditative activities (anything from walking, to gardening or shovelling sand, to listening to music) are all-powerful techniques for calming the mind so that you can hear your emotions speak. We’re going to start here (You’ll need some blank paper, a pen and some peace and quiet).
1 – Know you!
Who looks back at you in the mirror, who is the person behind your name? How do you carry yourself from day to day, your interactions with others? What are you really like on a good day as well as a bad day, in the face of a challenge or a great reward? How do you react to the world around you?
2 – What are your values?
We ask all coaches who aspire to train our members, “what would be your top three values if you started a business tomorrow?”. Treat yourself the same way, what are your top three values, and why? Don’t stop at three, grab an extra sheet and keep going. Draw a map of your value valley.
3 – What are your likes and dislikes
We all find pleasure in different things, and it’s important to understand both what you like and dislike. Being able to say, “this does it for me,” forms a crucial part of our identity, so take some time to figure out what makes you feel good. It can be trying different cuisines, exercising, reading, working, travelling… whatever!
Create a list of things that you enjoy; things which help shape you as a person. Think about what food you enjoy eating, what you like doing when you’re not working, and who you enjoy spending time with.
Tomorrow we’ll dig a little deeper.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle