“Know Thyself” is possibly one of the most well-known aphorisms of all times. It was supposedly written at the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, in Ancient Greece. Many thinkers, philosophers and writers throughout the centuries attempted to decipher the meaning underlying these two simple words. What did the Ancients mean? What kind of deep knowledge did they want to lead us to? It’s interesting to note that even though we might not know EXACTLY what was meant as the time, “know thyself” does mean something to each of us, it resonates somewhere within us. We can all think of an explanation when hearing or reading these words. We all have our own interpretation. We all feel, inside, a sense of what they might mean to us. And this feeling does not have to be the same for everyone. You don’t need to know what I think about when reading these words as long as they mean something to YOU. However, for me… there is something about them that triggers a thought in my mind; the thought of the powerful potential for change that we all possess. Let me explain.
We all hold many beliefs: beliefs about life, beliefs about what things are and aren’t, beliefs about others and beliefs about ourselves. These beliefs help us shape our everyday reality; they design our world and also set its boundaries. We created our own beliefs mostly during our childhood and teenage years; we continue to create them through adulthood but after a time this creation process is achieved at a much slower pace. We created beliefs through our experiences, our social interactions, our families, our culture and so on. Among those beliefs, one category really stands out, because I believe it is the one which influences your future more than any other. This category holds the beliefs about yourself.
What do you believe about yourself? What do you say to yourself, each and every day, about who you are, what you have done, where you are heading, what you can achieve… and what are all the then presupposed negations of those beliefs? Who you are NOT, what you have NOT DONE, where you will NEVER GO, what you have NOT ACHIEVED? Many of these will constitute limiting beliefs. They hold you back. Is this an inalterable fact of life? Are you constrained by physical chains, locked in a particular role which you must cope with because that is the way things are? The dictionary defines a belief as “an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof”. If a belief is harmful to you, hurting you or limiting you in any way, shape or form, why would you accept it? Why would ANYONE ever accept it?
Beliefs are not facts. They are opinions. Limiting beliefs are beliefs about yourself which hold you back. The saying goes: you can if you think you can; this is well overused now, but it still depicts a blunt reality. Stop reading now for 30 seconds, and reflect on the things you tell yourself EVERY DAY about what you cannot do, what you cannot achieve, who you cannot be.
Are you done? Great job! Now bear with me for a moment while you face those beliefs head on. Which ones would you say are objectively (i.e. backed by absolute irrefutable evidence) TRUE? If you are honest with yourself, there is a high likelihood that very few actually are, if not any. They are all things you think are true, and make yourself believe. But what if you were to play a little game with yourself? What if you were to give it a go, just for a minute, and believe something else? Think about the negation of that limiting belief. What if you were actually capable to do this? What if you could achieve that? What if you KNEW you could be this? Really immerse yourself into the absolute opposite of your old beliefs. Come on, it is just a game! Do you think this is ludicrous? What are you afraid of? You know, you are actually right to be cautious because there is another saying which comes to mind: “be careful what you wish for – you might just get it”…
I believe you cannot properly “know thyself” when you have not explored one thing and its opposite. We are all on a spectrum, things and people are not black or white; our traits, behaviours, qualities and flaws are not carved in stone saying: “this is what and who you are”. We evolve across limitless possibilities, and we have a CHOICE. We can CHOOSE to believe something different. Change is easy, it is natural. Staying the same actually takes more effort, in the long run. You constantly have to tell yourself the same things over and over again to make sure you don’t budge.
Now, I have two other words for you to keep in mind at all times during the days to come:
What if you were to tell yourself something different? What if you were to take control? What if you were to override the system and proactively change course? What if you were everything you want to be, and more? What if? What if? What if? We are more complex creatures than a few words or a few beliefs can describe. And once you know that, and you decide to be who you want to be, I wonder what miracles you will achieve…
After all, the greatest and most powerful hypnotist in your life… is you.