That’s the question. Would you?
My husband and I are traveling at the moment. On our way to the airport, I popped this question to both of us. Not that we don’t have anything else to talk about with each other. I was just having one of those reflection’s moments when looking outside of a window and contemplating life.
Needless to say that we both answered: No!
Now, comes the second question: How much do we know about ourselves and invest in self knowledge ?
Think about this: the most basic readings of psychology will inform us that our actions impact or influence others on an ongoing basis and vice versa. Guess what? We impact our lives too. So, the more unaware we are of our real motives, the more we hurt ourselves and others, by operating like unguided missiles.
One of the worse things in relationships of any level of proximity, is the common situation where we blame others for what happens to us.
Victimization’s syndrome apart, which deserves a full chapter, we tend to project our (unconscious) frustrations and to not take responsibility for the behaviors which trigger certain reactions on others. And not because we are bad people, but simply because we don’t know ourselves well enough to recognize the difference between ours and others’ behaviors.
The caveat is that not always we are responsible for the cycle of action-reaction, because there are moments when it’s us who are getting the blame!
But now let’s go back to the first question.
Would you travel with a pilot who doesn’t know how to fly?
Why wouldn’t we fly with a person that doesn’t know how to fly? To not risk our lives, right?
But we live every single day our lives, blindly risking our life destiny, by not always knowing who the ‘pilot’ (us) is, and neither if the ‘pilot’ is prepared for the ride.
That’s how most people live. Sadly. Investing in self knowledge is not a priority for most of us.
I try to do my best. I have invested in it already for many years; not only through self reflection, feedback from family, friends and colleagues, but also from psychologists, psychoanalysts and complete strangers with whom I interact and learn from about how I come across to them.
Even though I do that, I cannot say that I already know all about myself, as I will still go through the occasional and sometimes stressing oops moments, saying things like ….I didn’t mean it, I didn’t see it coming, you provoked me, etc.
Where am I trying to take you from here, then?
‘The more you know, the less you understand’, said Socrates.
It may seem contradictory to use the above quote, but I don’t think so. My interpretation of it is that we spent far more time trying to know about others, and consequently judging them, than exercising self reflection and awareness. And the more we try to understand others the less we know about the real them.
Still during this trip, on the way from the airport to our destination, I read a street graffiti saying exactly what I wish I had written to explain my thoughts above: ‘Your observation may be right but you may not know the meaning of it.’
Our perceptions of the world and of others is constantly clouded by our references, beliefs, values and experiences, but still we lend our meaning to them. Simple as that.
I try to stop myself from doing it. Only self awareness can help me to recognize and separate me from you, and to respect your and my individuality.
We all deserve a trusted pilot and a safe ride.