​How to get to know myself?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

It seems to me that it is a given that you know that you do not know yourself, although you know how you normally react, you know your opinions, you have a sensation of familiarity with yourself that leads you to say “I know myself”.  This knowledge is totally superficial and even our children know us better than we know ourselves.  From this superficial perspective, if you believe that you know yourself, why would you want to get to know yourself?  Of course, really what you want is to feel better and satisfied with yourself, to have some kind of confidence in yourself and not to have so many worries.  The idea of getting to know yourself may not seem to be of much value.  Well, I can tell you that if you do not really know yourself, you are not going to be able to achieve any of the things you want and that I mentioned previously.  If you are looking to feel better, happy, secure, without so many worries, it is because you feel bad, you feel internal conflicts, negative feelings, or a sensation of fragility.  So the first question would be, why do I feel like this?  If I seek something to blame outside myself, I will not find what I seek.  What is directly responsible is within me, and if I do not know that, what can I do to make any of this better?  If I am what is responsible, it is myself that I need to get to know.   What do you do when you want to learn something?  The first thing is to observe it.  In the same way that if I want to learn about mechanics I have to focus very closely on the components that form part of a machine and learn how they are connected and the problems that arise when there is a lack of oil or fuel, or there is some kind of abnormal friction, I also need to learn to observe myself during my daily life.  We are quite a puzzling mechanism and we need to observe it carefully.  One important thing is how to observe.  Attentively and without judging.  When I observe a machine that has a problem, it is best that I do not pre-judge the outcome.   If it is not working well, I am not going to give it a kick because I think that it should work properly as a result of the quick tweak I gave it.  I need to pay attention without judging and without expectations.  Observing myself and seeing what there is: the bare facts.  I will not say, “I am a disaster”, as this means that I expect something other than what exists.  It is better to observe ourselves as a child does when it studies an object, it looks at every aspect of it, and sees what the object does and how it does it.  Observe, investigate and test.  And finally, what you should observe. I will observe, at the moment they occur, my feelings, my impulses, my bodily tensions, my behaviour and my wandering thoughts and how they bring me worries, judgements, fears, expectations, etc.  I will observe all of this without making judgements about whether they are good/bad, nor whether I like/dislike them and if I do make judgements and valuations, I will also observe them with curiosity.  All of this will give me valuable clues to learn about myself.  Through my observation I will be able to see the fears that make me react, think and worry or justify myself as I do. I will learn to observe events without becoming confused by them or being carried along by them.  This is a way of starting to get to know and learn about yourself and about your automatic reactions.  And this process of learning will lead to the result that you will feel free of the consequences of these reactions and it will give you the freedom to be able to respond in a new and healthy way to your life and it will also have beneficial results on the relationships you maintain with other people.  With commitment, using attention to the present moment, affection and curiosity, you can do it too. What do you have to lose? Only your ignorance of yourself!