The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
Do you know me? Do I know you?
The answer is No.
You might think you know me. I may even think I know you. We really know nothing about each other.
We may believe that we know everything about our loved ones – our partners, children, siblings, parents – and others with whom we have spent a lot of time during any part of our lives. Today, we have the added mixed blessing that is social media. We see what others post and believe that we know who they are through what we observe.
We know nothing about who they really are.
Because we spend a lot of time with different people, including colleagues, we may believe we know what to expect from them as a result of multiple experiences over a period of years. We all have habits. We all may have routines that rarely change. These are observable. Do we think we know them?
Even then, we often know nothing about who they are.
What are we missing?
This piece, written for The Atlantic, by Adam Grant entitled, People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well points out just how well our colleagues know us, in many ways, better than we know ourselves…about some things.
Maybe we have forgotten that each of us has an inner life that influences who we are and affects what we may observe others and impacts our experiences of them. Some people are conscious and others are not conscious or familiar with a deep, inner life – themselves as a soul and human. Those who are unconscious and unaware of the deep sadness, anger or grief they are carrying tend to see other people, through the filters of those aspects of themselves which may be unknown to them.
We observe others through the filters of our past experiences of them, their habits, and perhaps more importantly, the parts of ourselves that we are not familiar with – those unconscious places that harbor our deepest and most painful buried memories.
Do we really know anyone? I still believe the answer is No.
Do we really even know ourselves?
What do you see? (What is the first thing that pops into your head when you look at this picture?)
What do you think you see? (What does your mind tell you that you are really looking at?)
Is what you first saw the same thing that you thought you saw, after your mind got involved in the process of observing?
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.