Self Understanding: Can Suffering Lead To Self Understanding?

By Oliver J R Cooper in Awareness, Beliefs, Happiness, Learning, Life Purpose, Stress Reduction, Success, attitude on September 5th, 2014 / No Comments

While it is relatively easy to notice what is taking place in the outside world, the same can’t be said when to comes to what is taking place within ones inner world. From the moment one is born, they’re going to pick up information about the world and this is likely to continue until the day their life comes to an end.

This is something that happens regardless of whether one has the desire to learn or not. It is not something that one can avoid; this is not to say that this will mean that one will always learn about things that are worthwhile and life enhancing.

From The Start

In the beginning of one’s life, this is generally going to relate to what they learnt from their caregivers, other family members and what they absorbed during their time in the education system. This will also include that they learnt from their peers and what they consumed from the mainstream media.

And one’s peers and the mainstream media will continue to play a part in what they do or do not learn throughout their lives. When their time in the education system came to an end, their career is likely to have taken over and be one of reasons they will continue to learn during their adult years.

Taking The Initiative

Of course, there is always the chance that one will decide to engage in some kind of self study and to take part in different courses. And since the introduction of the internet, information has become a lot more accessible to people.

A lot of the limits that were around in the past are no longer there and it is easier for people to find out about things. In the past, this option was only there for certain people and the average person had to go without the knowledge they desperately wanted and needed.

No Shortage

It could then be said that there are no shortages when it comes to information and this is why it is often said that we live in the information age.  And through the use of different social media sites, it is easy for one to find out about what their ‘friends’ have been doing.

They can also be informed about what different ‘celebrities’ are doing and what is happening in the world. And due to how much is taking place, one can remain plugged in for as long as they want.

Out Of Touch

Ideally, one will not only be aware of what is taking place externally, they will be aware of what is taking place within them. But based on the kind of education that people receive and due to how much is taking place externally, it often the exception as opposed to the rule for one to be aware of what is going on within them.

In today’s world, it is not uncommon for someone to know more about a certain ‘celebrity’ than they do about themselves. And if it doesn’t relate to a celebrity, then they might have a greater understanding of what will please someone else than they do of what will please themselves.

Looking Within

One may have had a childhood where their needs were recognised and met or they might have had to focus on the needs of the people around them. However, no matter what happened during these years, it is unlikely that one’s time of being educated by society would have given them the guidance they needed to gain any kind of self understanding.

This is often a time of pleasing authority figures and getting the right grades. With the intention that one will fit into the system and play a certain role, a role that has been provided for them. But a role is just that, it is a role and not who someone is.

Beyond The Role

However, unless one takes the time to understand who they are, they’re going to be playing a role without realising it. And the role they’re playing has been given to them by someone else and therefore doesn’t reflect who they are.

So as self understanding is not something that people are encouraged to attain in today’s world, it is rarely something that happens through choice. This is not to say that one will understand themselves if the desire is not there, what it means is that there is another factor that can cause them to look within.

The Catalyst

However, it doesn’t mean that one will be on the path to self understanding as a result. So the factor that is being spoken about here is suffering and this is something Soren Kierkegaard has spoken about.

He said – ‘’A man may perform astonishing feats and comprehend a vast amount of knowledge, and yet have no understanding of himself. But suffering directs a man to look within. If it succeeds, then there, within him, is the beginning of his learning”.

Suffering

When one is in pain, they’re likely to be focused on what is taking place within them and not focused on what is taking place without. This is similar to how one might go outside when it’s sunny and stay inside when it’s raining.

So as ones point of focus has been placed on what is going on within them, it will give them the chance to gain a deeper understanding of themselves. But at the same time, one could also run away from their pain and engage in some kind of escape.

Awareness

One can then use their suffering to gain a greater understanding of themselves or they can become even more estranged from who they are. And there are all kinds of reason as to why some people allow their suffering to increase their level of self understanding and some people don’t.

What is important is that one reaches out for the support they need if they are suffering. No one is their own island and we all need help from time to time. This can come from a: therapist, healer, coach, friend and/or a family member.

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