“Imitation is suicide,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay, “Self-Reliance”. Those words moved me the first time I read them and reaffirmed an age-old concept that I hold onto tightly like a mama bear protectively clings to her cub; Nosce Te Ipsum. Translation: Know Yourself. When we don’t know ourselves we become prone to becoming something we are not, and it can result in a need to be like others in order to maintain a sense of self. The result is we experience a sort of death at our own hands. The weapon? Imitation.
The old adage says knowledge is power, and it is not limited to external information in business, academics, and philosophy. It also applies to knowledge of the self, which in my estimation is as necessary as oxygen. Without knowing and embracing who we are, we cut off our opportunity to be truly fulfilled because all that we are purposed to be and do is contingent upon sticking to God’s blueprint for our personalities. What if God called us to change the world, and in order to do so we have to be ambitious, assertive, and tenacious, yet forfeit those qualities because we have a need to fit into a false mold that was imposed upon us? Or maybe it is because someone we deeply care about doesn’t fancy that side of our personality? It’s like a boat trying to become car. If a land vehicle is needed, as pretty and fit as that boat looks, it is useless because it is not serving it’s purpose.
There are two sides of the coin to knowing ourselves. The first side is becoming aware of our faults and weaknesses. This is where surrounding ourselves with honest people is crucial. Many of us may be swimming in a sea of self-deceit because our inner circles consist of people who won’t tell us the truth about ourselves for fear of backlash. And even worse, sometimes we won’t even tell our own selves the truth because we want to hold on to the image of who we think we are or want to be, and mistakenly think we arrived when we really didn’t. In order to become the person we ought to be, we have to be aware of where we’re starting and accept what we need to do to get there. In order to facilitate that progress, we must experience a paradigm shift so that we are properly challenged to become our best selves. The teachings of Jesus Christ are challenging, yet produce the type of fruit in us that make us fit for our purpose. It is a radical philosophy that demands the higher self to emerge. Unfortunately, his teachings have been watered down by misrepresentations and falsehoods in the name of religion, but when all of the man-made bells and whistles are stripped away, those teachings work. And they work well. Can you imagine if Jesus refused to be himself? Many of us would be totally different people right now.
In addition to putting ourselves in the company of people and paradigms that encourage insight, we must also be sure to immerse ourselves in the things that nurture all that’s beautiful about ourselves. In our quest to be better, we must recognize that goodness and nurture it like a precious seed so that it can grow and become a strong tree with many branches. God places people in our lives to make sure we don’t ignore what makes us special, and he puts us in challenging situations to turn our coals into diamonds. In order to draw the right people and experiences into our spiritual orbit, we have to accept that those things come to better our true selves. Being out here “frontin’”, trying to be something that we are not, will constantly create situations in our lives that are also fronts, and that equals no progress. Need I say it again?
I want to encourage all of us to do something powerful today. Let’s look in the mirror and tell ourselves (some for the first time and others again), “This is me faults and all, and I will be me for the rest of my life. Love her(him), embrace her(him), KNOW her(him)”. The power that comes from self-acceptance, which leads to being self-affirmed, is amazing. The confidence and humility that comes with believing those words will send a signal to the world, and people will know we believe that without us even saying a word. The world will know a new person was born, ME, and there is nothing they can do about it.
Be Yourself and LIVE!