“Sometimes in not knowing ourselves fully, we rely on the opinions of others who also may not know themselves. Much better to take the time to experience and understand ourselves directly.”—Andy Puddicombe
An old episode, and one particular scene, of the crime dramedy Monk captured my attention recently. When finding himself in what he believes to be a precarious situation, Adrian Monk, who is temporarily blinded, errantly accepts himself to be on a steel beam located tens of stories above the ground, and the only concrete source of support is his own balance, as he cannot see and no one is there to help him. The reality is, had he been able to see, he would have known, that the beam was situated on top of a solid floor, and all he had to do was step down six inches to a wide flat, safe surface.
When we don’t know ourselves fully, we look to those around us, to the world around us, the cultures, beliefs and institutions around us, to lead the way. When we are left to our own devices, or find ourselves in our own company, we seek out others to tell us directly or indirectly how we should feel if we haven’t taken the time to go on our own inner journey to separate how we innately feel and which feelings are influenced from the external world.
If a friend, family member, or the media tells us to be afraid, and we haven’t examined critically the full extent of the situation, let alone the reliability of the advice giver, then we are living, even without a blindfold, blindly. And so in those moments, when we are experiencing something new, we don’t trust ourselves because we’ve never done so before – a la Monk’s temporary blindness moment on the beam.
Having talked and written about the awesome gift we give ourselves when we take the time to get to know ourselves previously here on the blog, in my books and on the podcast, it is an investment in a life of deep fulfillment. It is an investment, most importantly, and thus, takes time to comprehend.
While the learning and understanding of ourselves is an ongoing journey, there is a point at which you will reach understanding: a fluency with your own unique language – what makes you soar, what makes you depleted, and not only the “what”s, but the “why”s as well, which are far more important as it may be a trigger of a comfort or a pain from the past.
Once we know ourselves, we can engage more fully because we know where our boundaries are and how to communicate them. Once we know ourselves, we can luxuriate in time in our own company rather than dread time alone. Once we know ourselves, we can respond rather than react, thinking critically by examining any situation we find ourselves and come to understand the benefits of critical thinking, even examine our own initial desired reaction and why we may unconsciously gravitate toward it.
As I share in the first few pages of my latest book which serves as a guide for the book’s theme, “We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” Jane Austen is right.
We need to attend to it. We need to fully recognize the power that is possible, that will cultivate inner strength that cannot be taken away no matter what we are navigating through along our journey.
Others may try to give us advice, and some, who do know themselves, who have done the hard work, will most certainly offer helpful insights, but then it is our responsibility to digest it, consider it alongside what we know to be true for ourselves. And then adjust accordingly.
Living simply luxuriously, yes, includes smart sartorial choices, a thoughtfully curated home, strong, healthy relationships, and so many other arenas in our lives, but these components are most authentically formed when our true selves flourish. At the foundation is each of us. And as the world changes, so too will we, and if we are keeping our eyes open, we will stumble from time to time, but we will know how to to use the stumble for good. Such moments are part of our journey, not an unwanted hiccup.
So while we may find ourselves on a narrow beam that feels as though we are at the top of a skyscraper, if we are standing there already knowing who we are, what we are capable of, and how the world ebbs and flows, we will calmly and securely step down the six inches onto the solid floor because we took off the blindfold long before we were placed upon that beam.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself? (a 3-part series)
~Give Yourself Permission to Be Awkward, episode #185
~Authenticity: The Courage to Be Yourself, episode #6