The tragedy of discovering ourselves is something that most of us overlook. As we gain more knowledge, we become more aware of how much we don't know. People often say that ignorance is bliss, and in some ways, they're right. The more we know about ourselves, the more of a burden we carry.
In my experience as a therapist, I've found that when clients initially seek help, this help often uncovers an unknown tragedy. I write more about this idea that with therapy, things feel harder before they get better, titled And Then It Gets Better. This can often come as a shock. We seek help for one issue and come to find out there is a whole list of unaddressed concerns. But, on the other hand, these newly discovered concerns become less of a surprise when they start to know more about themselves. There's often a sense of remembering something they've forgotten, but deep down, they always knew.
Quick side note on discovering more than you bargained for in therapy. As the client, you are completely in control. If exploring these undiscovered paths feels too much at any point in therapy, I urge you to advocate for yourself and tell your therapist you're not ready for this; it feels too much or that you are not interested in knowing more about yourself. Therapy is about you, your goals, and what you're comfortable with.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have a sense of who we are. Our quality of life is affected by how in touch with this sense we are at any given moment. Those who are more logical or struggle with empathy tend to see the world as black and white, missing out on the nuance that makes us whole. For example, people who trend in an analytical direction may not see the benefits of understanding how the past affects who we are in the present. Thus missing out on how certain learned behaviors from the past perpetuate present-day problems.
Knowing yourself isn't about blaming your parents, others, or past relationships for your problems. In fact, in the end, blaming can cause more harm than good. However, the solutions to our problems can often be found in these relationships. It is about what takes place in the relationship rather than the individual in the relationship. The goal is to deepen our understanding and connection to our past, so we can see the whole of who we are in the present. This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly (I made a movie reference:)). Leaving parts of ourselves undiscovered and unknown, they tend to act in their own self-interest, leading to many problems.
The story of King Arthur offers a sentiment that what we're looking for is often found where we least expect it. King Arthur sent his knights of the round table on a quest for the Holy Grail. Each Knight began this journey at the entrance of a forest. Each Knight entered the forest at a different place by choosing the path that looked darkest to him. In a way, we, too, need to look where we think we are least likely to find what we're looking for. This requires courage and vulnerability, but the reward is a more profound sense of understanding and connection to ourselves.
Though the quest for self awareness may lead us through dark and difficult places, it is in these moments that we uncover that which we seek. Knowing ourselves is crucial for living a fulfilling life, and how we understand ourselves determines the quality of that life. While it can be challenging and uncomfortable at times, it's worth exploring the parts of ourselves that we may have left unchecked or unknown. By doing so, we can develop a deeper sense of understanding and connection to ourselves and, ultimately, live a more meaningful life. So remember to be brave and vulnerable in your search for self-knowledge, and always keep an open mind to the unexpected paths that may lead you to your own personal holy grail.