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The Story of You

Monday, July 13, 2009

There is, therefore, a more perfect intellectual life in the angels. In them the intellect does not proceed to self-knowledge from anything exterior, but knows itself through itself.

~St. Thomas Aquinas

I found this quote today when I was adding to Way Cool Quotes. It really struck me because that's exactly what I've been mulling over recently. What I've been thinking about is how much I rely on what other people think, say, and do versus how little I rely on what I think about what I say and do. I'm constantly running to my friends, to books, to websites, etc. etc trying to figure out what to do... it's like I don't even know what I think until I know what every one else thinks.

What does it mean to know yourself through yourself? Who are you really? Without other people's opinions and stories about you, who would you be? What is your personal private story of you?

It might be an interesting exercise to write a small summery of the story of you. We're not talking great literature here, just a few simple paragraphs describing yourself as if you were introducing someone you know to a perfect stranger. Write it - and then go back through and delete everything that comes from what other people think, leaving only what you yourself have experienced about yourself and know to be true.


Cindy H said...

Okay, I wrote some stuff - but it's hard to know what things I truly KNOW about myself and what thinks I just THINK I know about myself through what others have told me!

She is intelligent and kind. (I think I know this is true within myself.) She tells the truth about most everything. (Yes, that rings true within myself.) She always wants to learn and better herself and expand her mind. (Yes, that's true.) She loves animals and children. (This seems to be a fact). She is kind and helpful. (Not sure if this one is known within myself or is just a reflection of other's perceptions). She is a good mom and grandma. (Again, maybe this is just from another's point of view).

Hmmmm, many of the things I was going to write I didn't write because it was obvious they were based on other people's opinions.

Very interesting exercise!

shirley said...

Hi Cindy - I also found this interesting.

Here's what happened with me: when I wrote it in the first person, I talked about how I am intelligent, interesting, driven, wierd, have an odd sense of humor, that I'm determined, often stubborn, highly creative, somewhat talented, well-read, practical and impractical both at the same time -- all pretty much stuff I've known about me for years - no "aha!" moments there.

THEN - I wrote it in the third person - I found that what I was writing was without exception stuff that I know OTHER people think about me. And most of it was unflattering, some of it was downright mean, a lot of it wasn't even true, and not one thing that I had to say about Shirley was nice....

Looking at myself from the more objective standpoint of "she is this... " and "she is that..." is very informative! I find that it's not so much that I don't like myself - it's that I don't think OTHER people like me - therefore I must not be likeable - which (through some strange logic) makes me also unloveable - which means that when I do like and/or love myself I must be WRONG!

So... now I know something really important and interesting... I wonder what to do with it!!

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