I find this question interesting because it challenges our perception of ourselves and reminds us that we can surprise ourselves. It’s all too easy to ‘take yourself for granted’ and believe that you know yourself. Yet, I we took the time to examine ourselves in various ‘test settings’ we might find ourselves in a state of disbelief.
For example: If you asked Bill* if he was a patient person and whether or not he suffered from any anxieties, Bill would answer YES to both questions – Yes, he is very patient and Yes he has a phobia with regards to snakes. Now, with this knowledge to take Bill and transport him to an unfamiliar culture filled with unusual smells and sounds that aren’t particularly pleasing and ask Bill to wait in line at customs, Bill might see an entirely different person then the one Bill thought himself to be.
Granted, this is an example, a hypothetical. But what is the reality? How well do you really know yourself?
It’s relatively easy for a person to proclaim as absolute that if their mate heated on them, well that would be the end, finito, over. Yet I suspect that if a study were done, we would see that a surprising number of people who couldn’t imagine themselves forgiving their wayward spouse actually tried to make things work. Admittedly, in such a case study there would be a variety of factors that would contribute one way or the other, but it’s interesting to think about.
Consider foods or music. A person can say definitively that they hate a certain type of food or music, or that they love a certain type of food or music. But isn’t it true that we could find exceptions. Robin loves pasta, but fixed with marinara sauce, with the aroma of fish in the air, an odour unfamiliar to Robin, she can’t stomach a singlE bite. Then there is Hank who thinks he hates classical music only to discover that he actually really enjoys and appreciates classical music.
The crux lies in what we THINK. We THINK we know ourselves, end of story. But the truth is that we are in a state of change, evolution, growing and adapting, learning and adjusting our views and taste and like s and dislikes. What we hated when we were young we now thoroughly enjoy, and certain things we treasured are now forgotten and lost in time. How is this possible? Did we not KNOW ourselves as well as we thought? I don’t think it’s as simple as that, but it does have to deal with the fact that at the time we are asked that question we are convinced that we know what we need to know about ourselves when the truth is we haven’t stopped growing and so our perception of ourselves is skewed or distorted because the image we have is incomplete.
I wonder if there is a better answer, a more correct answer we could give when asked how well do you know yourself. I’m a work in progress…I learn something new about myself everyday…I haven’t stopped growing…
How would YOU answer?