Know Thy Self: Accepting Criticism


Nobody knows who they are. If you did, you wouldn’t be discovering new things about yourself through experience and introspection. And failure to learn new things about yourself doesn’t prove you do know yourself; it may only prove that you are blind to your own truths.

The self is one of the most difficult things to know… the self is the most impossible person to understand.

The fact is, and psychologists agree, we delude ourselves. We suppress and we repress, and we deceive ourselves with rationalizations and arbitrary justifications – all so that pain is minimized. Its an attempt to protect the ego. The ego protects the self, even from truth – no, especially from truth.

Sometimes we protect ourselves by maintaining ignorance of the self. It doesn’t necessarily always work, and usually does more harm than good. The subconscious doesn’t plan for the future – its only concerned about the now and about emotion. Often times, our ego causes us social and psychological problems later on in life.

I have often times thought I knew something about myself. Sometimes I have self-psycho-analyzed to solve my own issues. I have convinced myself I had a solution to some issues and that I understood my psycho-causes. But I didn’t. That was made apparent later in one of two ways. Either in applying my correction or adaptation, my success rate in life didn’t improve and I suffered the same consequences of a problem I thought I had fixed. When the solution doesnt work, it wasnt a solution; and if for nothing else, you still dont know the problem.  Alternatively, someone pointed something out to me that took me aback, and even insulted me.

Inevitably, though, when you realize through experience that your first realization about yourself was wrong, it makes you question your own capacity to fairly make any assessment.

We are often offended by the truth. We hate hearing criticisms about ourselves… especially if those things are true.

I would never choose to be ignorant of myself solely because it was more comforting. What pains I suffered then would never be solved without growth. You stand no chance of self-improvement and bettering your life if you remain ignorant of the self.

People often argue with people, “you don’t know me”, “what do you know?” etcetera.

I feel that people closed off to criticism stand no chance of growth. Of course, the critics should be more tactful. But sometimes the truth will be offensive no matter what.

Accepting the observations of other people, especially the people that know you best or that don’t know you at all, can be enormously helpful and enlightening – just so long as arrogance doesn’t stand in the way of objectively accepting criticisms.

Of course we cant and shouldnt allow everyone to effect us. We shouldn’t feel obliged to change for people and we should stay true to ourselves, for the most part. But that is not to say we cant allow ourselves to accept the possibility of truth in criticism and analyze it accordingly.

I find that the quicker people are to reject a proposition, the more likely it is to be true. Same goes with the intensity of negative emotional response.

What it comes down to is this: Should we really ignore the offensive things others say to us? Is the old cliche “don’t let others get to you” really the healthy perspective?  People that preach non-judgmentalism are merely afraid to be judged themselves, and likely because they know on some level that they have plenty to be shameful for.

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