“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
Socrates spoke these words that would decorate many thousands of philosophies for thousands of years to come. The truth that lies behind them has not diminished. If we are to live life to the fullest, we must first fully know ourselves.
Once we see ourselves in an honest light, we are able to highlight our strengths and grow from our weaknesses. This is a continual process in life, but one that develops the beautiful wholeness and humility enveloped in a well-rounded person.
It is commonly mistaken that in this wisdom, we must simply know the foundations of our personality; our likes, dislikes and other’s opinions shape a mental image of ourselves.
But it is necessary for us to look deeper, beyond the basics, to admonish ourselves of the social, mental and emotional constructs that cast these superficial qualities.
Our deeper convictions forged the lenses through which we see the world. And unknowingly, they determine most of how we spend our lives.
On a large scale, these lenses warp to nest our ideological frame of morality, convictions and philosophies. Most people have an idea, some well-developed and some vague, regarding what they believe and how it affects them.
College is usually the particular time for this creation of constructs. One leaves the world their parents have created for them to create their own. They continue developing with life’s experiences, dotting the map of personal philosophy. Their importance is without debate.
However, the constructs we hold on a small scale are infinitely more prominent in governing everyday life. Different from using excuses or addressing our body’s actual biological needs, these are the ideas we have constructed and hold onto as strong as our large-scale constructs.
Our families, our friends, past experienced, the media and a variety of sources influence these constructs. They determine our priorities and how we spend our time. They include how I “want” things done, how I “want” to live my life, how I “should” live my life, how is “necessary” to live my life, and how I “deserve” to live my life.
Everyone has them. They are natural and beneficial. However, we often fail to realize that what are – constructs.
These artificial standards can often transform our flexible, malleable minds into rigid, structuring and confining cages; therefore, providing inability to experience the full potential of our lives.
The structures cover a multitude of ideas that are completely individual to each person. They can include what we believe about how much sleep we need, how our coffee should be made, how we should wake up in the morning, what time we should eat, our level of social interaction allowed in one day, our level of comfort, our method of doing schoolwork, how we believe social interactions should happen, and the list continues.
My warning is this: don’t let your idea of sleep keep you from going to see your friend off at the airport at 2 a.m. Don’t let your level of comfort keep you from backpacking through the mountains for three days. Don’t fail out of school because you believe in only studying on weekends. Don’t miss time with your child because you can’t miss the Sunday football game.
Be aware of their influence. Find balance. Experience new experiences. When you strive to know yourself, know yourself fully.
This article originally appeared in the September 9, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
image via indefinitelywild.gizmodo.com/