Sunday, September 17, 2006

Do you really want to know about yourself?

"Circumstances do not make the man, they merely reveal himself to himself."
- Epictetus, Greek/Roman philosopher (c.55 – c.135 C.E.)

This assumes the desire and willingness to find out about himself. No trivial matter.

Do you really want to find out about yourself? From my experience, most people don't really want to know what is at the heart of themselves.

They are afraid of what they might find.

At what might they find? Faults? Weaknesses? Grave errors? Genetic mistakes? Chasmic gaps in their childhood development? Almost certainly.

But they would also find their strengths. Some people don't know their strengths because others have not pointed them out or because they have not worked hard enough to find them out themselves. A small minority believe they don't have any strengths. Such people are emotionally fragile.

We have been socialized, at least in the western world, to understand that we will be judged by our weaknesses, our mistakes and anything that make us different from perfection. Many people cover these as much as possible, refusing to acknowledge that they are not perfect. Many even attribute their own mistakes to others to take the heat and attention off themselves.

You may not be among these people, but no doubt you know some.

Who judges us this way? Based solely on the negative? In almost every case, people we should not care about. Unless, of course, they are our mother, in which case they may be forgiven for wanting us to improve, to be our best.

We have no reason to care about neighbours or workmates who judge us by our mistakes or our weaknesses. If such people were worthy of our care, they would help us to overcome these problems. If they don't, they are not worthy of our time or our care.

Treasure the people who acknowledge your strengths. They are not just rare, but they have a quality about them that makes them worth knowing. And, usually, worth learning from.

Finding such people is like prospecting for gold. You go through a lot of rock, sand and detritus before you find the real goods. Like gold, they never lose their value.

More importantly, they never lose your value.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help every child become an adult worth associating with.
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