Understanding Oneself

It’s easy for us to superficially evaluate people we know very little about. We may have little or no understanding of what someone is saying or writing but we do not hesitate in appointing ourselves as her or his judges.

If you scroll through the comments of articles and videos you’ll notice that many of the commenters express disagreement with the gist of the article or video, but they clearly have no understanding of the material. Similarly, those who express agreement with the sentiments of the article or video, cannot intelligently say why in their own words. To read a comment that expresses insight and understanding of the author is refreshing.

This tendency is a manifestation of the general lack of comprehension and understanding of each other within general society. It can be boiled down to people not fully understanding themselves. The fact of the matter is that the only human being who can fully understand me is me. If I do not fully understand myself, how can I expect anybody else to fully understand me?

My family, friends, associates, employer, and adversaries will never understand me until I’m willing to let them see me as I am. This statement is at the core of our inability to mesh together as a society and our society to get along with other societies. You don’t have to be an introvert to ponder this reasoning.

Even the most basic interpersonal relationships are examples of this hypothesis. Friendships, and pairings either survive or fail according to the levels of interpersonal understanding. When one party has little or no understanding of his behavior and how it affects the other party, this cluelessness leads to boorishness, chronic misunderstandings and quarrels. If I am unable or unwilling to understand what makes me tick, how can I empathize with anyone else?

Certainly we are emotionally drawn to our friends, this is largely due to being able to appreciate them and the ability to relate to them on some level. Casual friendships that evolve into becoming best friendships mean that not only is their appreciation but there is the ability and willingness to understand the other. I feel safe expressing my inner desires and thoughts with a best friend forever and my significant other. When we strive to understand ourselves, warts and all, we are better able to understand our BFF and SO. This has been true throughout human history.

“‘Pelorat sighed. ‘I will never understand people.’
‘There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else.'”–from Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov.

When we reminisce about our youth and childhood, we remember the quiet times when we yearned to figure out things about the world and why they happened. Who are all the people around us? What is true love? Who we are and why we act the way we do. We were eager to shed our naiveté. We did not want to be gullible, stupid, nor crude. We wanted to understand stuff.

Do we still ache to understand stuff and people, or do we simply accept them at face value? Can we fairly evaluate and understand ourselves? These are our forever questions.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century poet, Theodore Roethke. “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”  

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Friendship, philosophy, Youth and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Understanding Oneself

  1. zettl.fr says:

    I couldn’t agree more. One would think that in our enlightened world with all the knowledge that we have now gathered about the psyche, personality structures, relationships, etc., it has become easier….

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