“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom” – Socrates
I have been asked what my take was on this. There are, what I see to be, three layers of the self: the personality (the mask), the unconscious (part of self we’re unaware of and/or ashamed of), and the soul-self (the true self). Knowing the self means knowing all three parts. It means knowing how we work on an unconscious level that some might call the “shadow self”. When we know ourselves, we know our weaknesses, and how we operate, how we manipulate, and why we do what we do — as in the deeper meaning of why we behave as we do, what we fear, what drives us, what makes us angry or attributes of ourselves we might label as ‘unfavorable’. Our shadow selves can also be our unconscious mind, our ego, or our inner child. They are all one in the same. And not only do we one day become aquainted with our shadow selves from doing our inner work or inner-child work, we grow to love and appreciate these parts of selves which is where self-forgiveness and self-love is born.
When we have gotten past that step, we grow to learn who we are on the Soul level which is who we really, really are. But we cannot become aligned with our soul-self until we KNOW, acknowledge, accept and love those parts of self we are ashamed of. And this is why healing and shadow work can be challenging. Liberating beyond belief, but challenging.
Shadow work or giving full expression to our feelings may help us get to know our shadow better. This below list was created by Bernhard Guenther for those interested in getting down and dirty with shadow work. It sure has at least helped me.
– What do I least want others to know about me?
– What do I tend to have a disproportionate reaction to?
– What am I offended by?
– What person (someone I know or public personas) keeps triggering me?
– What qualities of mine do I often feel aversion toward?
– Which emotions do I consider to be bad or negative?
– Which emotions am I the least comfortable expressing?
– What am I most scared to openly express or share in a relationship?
– What information or topic am I uncomfortable looking into?
Self-awareness is freedom.