gnōthi seauton – Know Thyself
“If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.”
One of my main pet peeves is uncontrolled insecurity. I’m a people watcher. I don’t just sit back and watch people, however, I love to try to assess motivation, their modus operandi, or their “angle”. What I’ve realized is that many people operate from a position of insecurity. When you don’t have a solid foundation upon which your beliefs, perspectives, mores, ideologies, and perspectives are based, then you’re always teetering. That means that you’re always in a defensive position and your actions are usually either reactions or anticipatory, but anticipatory from a week foundation of insecurity.
When you know who you are and why you believe what you do, then no one can knock you off balance. Your decisions now come from objective, well thought out positions and you can now proceed with actions that will have a productive influence on your life.
Have you ever had a dialogue or argument with a religious person who cannot stand for his beliefs to be questioned? He believes fervently, but doesn’t know why he believes what he believes. So your challenge makes manifest all of his doubts and insecurities regarding his religion. He’s afraid to move away from what he’s been taught or what he’s come to believe. That’s a dangerous position from which to operate. If you cannot open your mind in order to bring in new concepts and ideas, how can you ever learn anything outside of your current paradigm?
Christopher Columbus came up with this incredible concept. He postulated that the world was a circle. In his day, of course, everyone believed that the Earth was flat and the horizon was evidence of the end of the world. For years he attempted to convince them otherwise. The problem was that they already had a system of beliefs. In order to bring in a totally new concept, he had to first displace the belief about the Earth that they held. To move a new idea into the mind, you must first move an old one out. “The world is round,” said Christopher Columbus. “No, it’s not,” said the public, “it’s flat.” To convince the public otherwise, 15th century scientists first had to prove the world wasn’t flat. One of their more convincing arguments was the fact that sailors at sea were first able to observe the tops of the masts of an approaching ship, then the sails, then the hull. If the world were flat, they would see the whole ship at once. Such a simple observation by which the public could verify the logic of the matter for themselves. Once an old idea is overturned, accepting a new idea is often extremely simple. You’ll naturally search for a new idea to fill that void.
However, if you are not secure enough to question your existing paradigm, you hinder your growth and therefore your potential. Look introspectively and challenge yourself to review and justify everything that you believe; your religion, your politics, your concepts of business, your concepts of marriage and family, your priorities, and approach these matters as objectively as you can. Wherever you find yourself, on the “other side “, will be a place of strength and self-assuredness. From here, you can grow. From here you can respond, adapt, change, and move on a dime. You have to release the old in order to accept the new.