- Elmarie Venter
Essential elements on our spiritual journey:Self-knowledge
There are essential elements in our journey to come to a deeper understanding of being human. Some of the essential elements will be discussed in a series of blogs. The first element is self-knowledge.
The philosopher Socrates famously quoted: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. According to Socrates, true wisdom is knowing what you do not know. So an essential part of knowing yourself is recognising what you do genuinely know, and knowing what you have yet to learn about yourself.
It is interesting that most of us are very wary of embarking on the path of learning about ourselves and building our self-knowledge. Why would this be the case?
The simplest answer is that we are scared about what we may find, because on a some level we believe it will be bad, sad and scary.
Consciousness teachers, like Greg Braden, Joe Dispenza and Bruce Lipton, and most psychologists, will state that 10 % of your consciousness is conscious, and 90% is unconscious. The 10% consciousness is creative and is quite open to new information. The 90% unconscious part of being human though, is ruled by habit, programming and survival.
The paradox of the unconscious mind is that although it is ruled by programming and survival, it is also a rich resource for growth, intuition, wisdom and the “quiet inner voice”. It is in the examining of the unconscious mind that we encounter both the programming and the wisdom.
Your unconscious mind unexamined rules your behaviour; all your beliefs, socialization, cultural programming and subjective experiences are held there. This dictates how you see the world. And what the world is reflecting back to you, is a mirror of your unconscious mind.
In the absence of examined self-knowledge, when you do not reflect on your inner world, your life always feels “out there”, run by other people, circumstances, and random happenings that seems to randomly influence your life.
On reflection and mindfully paying attention, you inevitably start noticing that what happens “out there” is mirroring what is going on “in here”. The open secret is that life needs to show you what is going on inside. Life is like a live video reflecting your “inner world”.
It is this unconscious, habitual part of us that needs to be visited, excavated, reimagined and re-written. It is the unconscious wisdom that needs to be brought to the surface and be grounded in your everyday life. Your self-knowledge journey can be non-judgemental, and compassionately witnessed by you, and important others.
What you will hopefully realise is that you are as broken, as spectacular, as limited, and as courageous as everyone else. There are no guilty parties, no judgement to be had, no satisfaction in telling others they are wrong. There is only you and what life reflects about you and your unconscious mind.
So what are some of the ways in which one can journey to self-knowledge? Some suggestions:
Keep an honest, open and vulnerable journal.
Take a psycho-spiritual personality test like the Enneagram; work through the results to get a developmental plan going - with an Enneagram coach.
Embark on psychotherapy with a psychotherapist who aligns with the developmental and integration model, and not only the medical model; the aim is self-knowledge to enable self-development and integration of aspects of self.
Use psychotherapy and energy psychology to address your traumatic experiences; this is very fertile ground to change your life script and to free up your essential self.
Ask trusted and caring friends to give you some feedback on your blind spots.
Be honest with yourself about the feedback that life gives you; use the feedback with experiences, people and perceptions to change what you do not want into what you do want; change what you are creating – by changing what is on the inside.