Jung was right. If we don’t understand our own unconscious impulses, we are slaves to them. But that doesn’t mean constant self-focus (“what do I feel, what do I think, what do I want?”). True self-knowledge comes from beyond ourselves.
Consider how we hear. Even before we speak, we “hear” in our minds the sounds we intend to make. Then we speak and our inner ears pick up the sounds that resonate inside our heads, the tones that only we can hear. Finally, our outer ears pick up the sounds we release into the atmosphere, the version of our voice the world hears.
Self-knowledge comes from three sources, just as hearing does: from self, from others, and from God. Morbid introspection, “navel gazing,” is like having only an inner ear, not knowing who we are in context. (Have you ever known someone who seemed “deaf” to what others knew about them?) Other people help us know who we are in the world. In helping each other, we round out our perception–together. Because no soul exists in a vacuum (except, perhaps, in hell). Finally, there is the ultimate source, God, who “hears” who we are at the deepest level. Without his insights, we can never know what we were intended to be. Only he can reveal it to us, little by little, day by day, relationally.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” And he was right. But false examination is as useless as no examination. Be humble, be real. Tap all three sources, expose false fate and…