Know Oneself

Photo by Evie Shaffer on

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself,”  Montaigne.  A perfect continuation from yesterday’s discussion.  So much of the “why” we are looking for comes from knowing who we are and what purpose we are trying to fulfill.  Belonging to oneself is a matter of knowing oneself.  If we are going to put it in the context of yesterday’s conversation, when we look for a why, we need to know what why is important to us—and that means knowing who we are and what our purpose is.  If we put a frog in pants it won’t serve anything for them and they will fight it.  Similar to us: if we are working to achieve accolades on something that doesn’t interest us, it won’t have any real meaning.  But when we know who we are, those answers become really clear and life is all about clarity.

Montaigne uses the word “belong” in a really specific way—rather that is a pretty specific heavy word to use about oneself.  I like to look at it in the context that we can’t be swayed by outside influences.  We are rock solid in our foundation and know who we are so we know the direction of our sail.  There is a nice sense of freedom in that.  But when it comes to belonging, humans need others as well.  We need a social context and we need help from others.  I know I never wanted to commit to much because I didn’t want my time dictated by other people.  I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.  I didn’t want to have to put other people’s priorities before my own.  Perhaps a bit selfish, yes, but I was raised to always put myself last and I felt the sting of not being able to rely on those I had helped when I needed them. I wanted to rely on me.  In that sense, I closed off and became too familiar with my own wants and needs—and they weren’t good in some cases.  Like if I made a mistake I turned to self-harm. 

As I’ve worked through learning who I am and where my drive really comes from, what my purpose really is that has gone away.  I’ve learned to get familiar with my talents rather than what I can do to make people like me.  I’ve learned to invest time in the things I CAN do and developing that rather than worrying about what I can’t do.  That is how you know you belong to yourself: your driver is internal and aligned with who you are.  That is HOW you belong to yourself.  It isn’t an easy feat.  We have a lot of external pressure and stimuli and it’s available 24/7 telling us who to be and what to think.  We are also still deeply indoctrinated in a system built centuries ago.  In order to change any of that we have to know what we can bring to the table and what it needs to look like moving forward. 

I’ve spoken with some people who feel this is a selfish way to go: it’s all about you and your wants and your dreams etc., etc.  The truth is it’s about creating a new reality.  It’s about finding more fulfillment in the world and how you can participate in it.  It’s about genuinely serving your purpose, not just for yourself, but for others.  How does your purpose help others?  There is more than one way to function as a society and what is happening now is the world is showing us that we need a different way.  We need to make room for more.  The old systems didn’t allow for that type of light to shine through.  It was about conforming in order to survive. Now we are letting ourselves shine in order to thrive and what we are learning is that more light means more growth—for everyone.  Take the time to figure out how to belong to yourself.  Be the person you dream of with purpose—who you are.

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