We humans are a funny lot, to say the least. We know so much in so many areas of life that it is unnecessary to mention the high points. Yet, for all our spectacular accomplishments, our basic human nature, which is at the core of our existence and source of our experience in this world, seems to remain a mystery for most of us.
Unraveling some of human nature’s secrets would seem to be a priority for us to research. Doesn’t it make sense to try and learn more about ourselves? Plato thought so when he said in Phaedrus, “I must first know myself, as the Delphian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still ignorant of my own self would be ridiculous.”
Knowing yourself sure helps with some of the confusion and conflict in life. If we can understand how we react to life with our strengths and our weaknesses, maybe we can begin to understand others and why they do what they do. Maybe we can then see that we all own just a small piece of the overall big picture as does everyone else.
Then maybe, just maybe, we can begin the process of working together and not enter into the ring to fight one another over who is right or wrong with their misinterpretations of reality.
Why do we do the things we do and why do others do what they do? These are questions each of us have asked ourselves at one time or another. It appears we haven’t made much progress in our understanding of our behaviors. By not understanding our human nature we are stuck in the mire of our instinctual reactions which ultimately leads to our problems of conflicting points of view.
Where to begin? It started for me with me reading Please Understand Me by Keirsey and Bates. It was there that I first had the revelation, and it was a revelation for me, that I can't help being who I was anymore than others can't help being who they were. It was a turning point in my life as a human being.
Then, I had the opportunity to fall in love with someone who was my complete opposite in every way. Her actions and behaviors revealed who I really was as a person by testing me with our conflicts. Sometimes I reacted in ways that I never imagined I was capable of. I believe some soul searching was necessary after those incidents. This just illustrates that a relationship's conflicts are sometimes our greatest teaching moments. It's not easy to see when you are in it but sometimes you have to be tested by fire.
Only by emerging from the fire are we able to see how our reactions can be turned into responses. We don't have to be a slave to our body and ego. When you are tested you get a chance to see how you really are by your inherent nature. From there you can begin to work on who you really want to be.
The difference between a reaction (no choice) and a response (choice) can make all the difference in the world. It doesn't mean that you are trying to be someone or something you are not. It means that you are trying to be the best you can be and the most effective you can be.
Knowing your strengths and your weaknesses is the first step in understanding yourself. Learning to be objective about yourself instead of blaming others for what you do and say is critical. Then, the choice is all yours to make.