Friday, 25 March 2011

Know Thyself

To thine own self be true

Shakespeare’s words ring as true today as the day he wrote them. If we are not true to ourselves, we will forever follow the direction of the wind. But how well do we actually understand ourselves? Apparently I wasn’t the only one who didn’t come with a manual. We all go through life trying to figure out what we like, what we don’t like, what makes us happy, and what doesn’t. What are we good at, and what just doesn’t fit with our temperament.

It’s a slow and sometimes torturous journey with many twists and turns and a fair number of false starts. But as we grow as people, so our understanding of who we are also grows. Or at least it grows somewhere in the back of our minds, in our subconscious. It’s rare that we step back and take a good hard look at ourselves.

But when we do look at ourselves, we find patterns that repeat themselves. I make sense of the world through words – writing and reading. It’s how I am. You may make sense of the world through numbers. Others may be visual. There’s a big difference in these different types, and it moulds our careers and what we do when we want to relax.

So would our lives be different if we DID come with a manual? I think they might. Knowing whether we should put diesel or petrol into the car means our cars last much longer. If we just kept trying one and then the other, murmuring, “No, I think it went better with the petrol” we probably would never have built motorways. Yet still we insist on eating foods that don’t agree with us, we don’t take enough exercise, and we don’t really understand our strengths and weaknesses.

Of course the fact that a manual didn’t arrive in the package when we were born doesn’t stop us creating our own. It might take a few drafts to get to something that seems to work, but it might be a big improvement on having no manual at all.


  1. We influence the quality of our lives through our body (health, exercise), mind (consciousness, knowledge, intellect, imagery, stimulus, willpower, commitment, coinfidence, motivation, curiosity), environment (eg family, work, leisure, fresh air, sun, place, atmosphere), relationships (self, personal, business) and intuitional listening(the inner guide that speaks to us when our mind is still, between our thoughts - sometimes through art, poetry, music, dance, symbolism and metaphor).

    We nurture all the above, hopefully in harmony. We attempt to change or improve them for the better - to become who we really are.

    The other important factor is timing. When do we elect to change something and when do we wish to feel the effect of that change?

    Shine on!
    Paul Burr

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