"Gnothi Seauton", or better known as "Know Thyself" is some of the best advice ever uttered by the human tongue. Its timeless wisdom has helped shine a light in the mind of man for centuries. So what does this simple expression mean and why is "knowing yourself" so important?
Part of the great journey that we must take on in all of our lives is what is called the "Hero's Journey." Members of many secret societies throughout the world that harbor arcane knowledge have continually highlighted the importance of partaking into this life long, spiritual journey. This process is long, arduous and often times scary. Its scary because it requires you to look at the darkness inside of yourself and deal with its existence. In fact, many mystery schools firmly believed that you only really truly started to live only when you began the "Hero's Journey."
This spiritual process allows you to discover the deepest and most profound layer of yourself. It has been called many names, The Self, Self-Actualization, Christ Consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness etc. When you have reached this state, you are essentially embodying an awareness that goes far beyond your average layperson's everyday thought process. You are able to unlock unprecedented potential in yourself that typically lays dormant in the minds of millions.
You may get glimpses of this state from time to time, but generally if you are not seeking it, you will seldom feel it. The multifaceted "Self" state allows one to feel a sense of deep satisfaction, altruism, gratitude, fulfillment, "flow", creativity and a litany of other optimal states of mental output.
During my personal journey, I started to realized that I behaved differently in certain environments and around certain people. I experienced a gamut of"layers" of myself that I was often unconscious to. Only in retrospect was I able to recall that I behaved differently at different times. I knew deep down that the way I was acting was not necessarily truly who I was, they were only certain aspects of my personality manifesting themselves in certain situations. I realized that by actually labeling these personalities that seem to pop-up in different scenarios, I could better come to understand myself in totality. Even the stuff that I really didn't like about myself. I realized that if I was to truly rise above my flaws, I needed to embrace them head on rather than running away from them. I had to put them in a box and understand how they functioned in my reality.
When you are living in a state of Self-Actualization, you become uncannily magnetic. You radiate joy and people naturally gravitate to you. Why is this though? Most people intuitively have a sense of when someone is "fake". You can read about my article about fakeness to understand why it exists in the world. When you are acting through one of these layers of yourself, it is often not your optimal state and it can turn many people off. People see right through you. It can also keep you imbalanced and feeling unfulfilled. You are magnetic when you are living out your optimal state because others subconsciously want to embody that same state in their own individualized human experience.
I realized that if I was able to pinpoint every "mask" I wore, I could better be able to recognize "the mask" when it arises in similar situations and actively seek to be more authentic. "Oh, this is the preachy Don", "Oh, this is the attentive Don", Oh, this is the focused Don". By observing my behavior, I was able to map out a comprehensive list of different aspects of my personality and I now actively try to prevent myself from repeating these same false and potentially destructive behavioral patterns.
Studying the layers of yourself is not a panacea to continually embodying the state of self-actualization. Although it is instrumental in the process to reaching the human potential's apogee. Be mindful that this process can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. You are essentially calling yourself out and putting the hidden layers of yourself all out on the table. However, if you seek to be a better and more fulfilled individual, this can be a powerful tool to use.
The experiment is to write out a long list of different personalities that you embody in different situations. Keep out an ongoing list and describe how you behave, think and speak during those situations. Recall if you acted in the most optimal state and if not, try to transmute that experience into one that is authentically aligned with that of your Self.