02 February 2016

Don't know thyself ?

Good evening everyone!
I know the title is a bit weird, but hear me out:

Schopenhauer believed that one's character will not be revealed by introspection, but only by one's actions - that what somebody thinks or says might have very little to do with someone's true character, because it only shows in what somebody actually does.
You might think you want something, but Schopenhauer's philosophy was that you will only know what you really want based on your actions, and that weighing up different possibilities, thinking and talking about what you may or may not do is really a self-deception, us creating the illusion that we have free will.
À la "If you want it, you will find a way, and if you don't, you'll find an excuse."

I've been obsessed with trying to define myself and "know who I am" as long as I can remember. For some reason I've always felt the urge for self-awareness, self-revelation - that's how I got into psychology, philosophy, astrology, spirituality, and other ways of "finding yourself" or defining and labeling yourself. All these approaches were based on introspection or a theoretical character analysis.
I've never bothered to actually simply watch my actions.
Maybe one of the reasons I was so interested in gaining self-awareness is that others always seemed to perceive me differently than I experienced myself from the inside.
I'm not sure if anyone has the same experience.
I thought "I just have a really hard time letting my real self show", but thinking about Schopenhauer's theory that character only reveals itself through actions, others might have been more right about me than I was about myself?
This just poses a whole new level of identity crisis.

Sure, you are supposed to know yourself best, and it's true that you're the only one who knows all your memories, hears all your thoughts, and feels all your feelings.
But I think that very often the beliefs we carry about ourselves and our self-perceptions are outdated or distorted.
I see myself as shy and socially awkward, but I really can't recall the last time I blushed, stuttered, didn't want to ask for help, or felt like I didn't know what to do with myself in a situation.
Just the other day, after a presentation at Uni, I was told that I was "calm" and "confident" and others wanted to know "my secret" - it was really surprising to me that others saw me completely differently from how I saw myself.

Usually, when your sets of beliefs and your sense of identity are challenged, you would react with denial ("no I wasn't calm at all!"). It's really hard to get rid of a belief about yourself, because a threat to your sense of self is basically a threat to your whole being and psychological ego.
Since the threat to the belief "I am shy" isn't exactly terrifying, I think I can accept it, though.

Lately I feel like I'm surprising myself again and again.
It's very reassuring to keep on growing past your preconceived boundaries.
The less you define yourself, the less you limit yourself.
I've been feeling rather reckless lately; I have acquired an attitude of "okay, let's just try it, I'll see how well I'll do."
It's like taking the jump and figuring out how to fly on your way down.
I want to think less in terms of "that's not me", "this doesn't suit me", "I'm not the type for that", and rather than letting my beliefs limit me, let my actions reveal my character.
I'm ready to be pleasantly surprised.

What do you think?



  1. Hi Marina! I’ve been following your blog for a while now from Tumblr and I’ve learned so much about astrology, so thank you and you are highly appreciated! I came across your page again and reading this was very relatable… too relatable. As I was reading, one thing popped in my head, “She’s got to read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle if she hasn’t!” This book was a request as a Christmas gift and it was definitely a gift. Reading only a couple of pages is just mind-blowing and reassuring. When you said, “The less you define yourself, the less you limit yourself,” that is when it hit me that you understand the concept. But I really suggest reading that book I mention above if you haven’t. It’s the one thing that I’ve always been searching for and it lets readers know that we are just Being. The concept of “I am” is powerful. It’s all about living in the present, hence, the Power of Now. This is where eternal peace lies and the mind is evil because it keeps you dwelling in the past and anticipate the future. It takes you away from the present, the now, where peace and happiness lie. I am also a Psych major with a minor in Health. It’s quite confusing because this book has changed my life. And in it states that the mind is evil but here I am - entertaining the mind endlessly if I truly pursue a career in Psychology. Anyway, I love this post and your blog! If you have any questions, please email me at tran1070@yahoo and we can definitely talk more :)

    1. Thank you for the comment Polly :) I know the book, I havent read it yet, but I am familiar with the message of mindfulness and being in the now! I practice it much less than I wish I would though


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