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Know Thyself ~ The Oracle At Delphi March 8, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness.

Suzi wrote a terrific post yesterday filled with questions to ponder: 

People Aren’t Always Who They Appear To Be

After considering her thought-provoking questions, I responded:

I do know who I am, but for years I did not.

No one else knows who I am . . . not because I’m wearing a mask, but because they are looking at me through the lens of their own experiences.

We have as many reputations as we have acquaintances, and none is accurate.

We could spend our entire lives trying to explain exactly who we are to someone else, and they still would be unable to see us as we are . . . because they are standing at a different vantage point.

Once I realized that no one else could really understand me, I stopped worrying about my reputation with others and focused on my reputation with “the man in the mirror.”

And that’s when I began to know who I am.

That’s the key I think.

When we stop worrying about who they are . . . or about who they think we are . . . we finally see who we are.

And when we know WHO we are . . . we know HOW to live.

Quotes to Ponder: 

Know thyself. ~ Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

When we understand who we really are, we free ourselves from the illusions that hold us back.

Turn the spotlight inward. ~ Gandhi

Trust yourself and you will know how to live. ~ Goethe

People are unhappy because they aren’t being truthful with themselves.   Being truthful with yourself plugs you into your inner power. ~ Suze Orman

When you stop hiding who you are, you have more energy to become more fully who you want to be. 

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

To thine own self be true. ~ Shakespeare

Happiness flows from being true to yourself.

Always remember that you don’t have to be what they want you to be. ~ Mohammad Ali

Without freedom, one’s creativity cannot bloom.

Be who you are and say what you mean, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.  ~ Dr. Seuss

When we are enjoying the journey, we stop worrying about finding our intended audience ~ we trust that our intended audience will find us.

Don’t worry about what the world wants from you.  Focus on what makes you feel more fully alive. What the world really needs are people who are fully alive. ~ Joseph Campbell

Nature does not ask, “what do they want me to be?”  Its glory lies in its authenticity.

To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e.cummings

No Rules.  Just Write

What about you?  Do you worry about what “they” think of you?  Or do you focus on what you think of you? 

Do you spend time trying to understand what makes others “tick”?  Or do you listen to the beating of your own heart?

Look deep.  The answers lie within.

Related posts:   The Inner Path to Peace * It’s Time To Wake Up * Backwards LivingAccess Your Inner Wisdom * Who Are You? * The AwakeningOur Internal Compass * Silence The MindHow Do You Stay True to Yourself? (WP Prompt)


1. Debra - March 8, 2011


I am me. Am happy to be me. Much to my young daughter’s distress at times…hehehe. Yet even she is learning that being ‘me’ is the best thing we could be.

Yay…! thanks :):)

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

When we can say “who I am is who I want to be” (with conviction) . . . we know we are on the right path.

Enjoy the journey!

2. Alannah Murphy - March 8, 2011

I’ve always been quite the rebel, wore all black when I was 11 and was called a witch by the other kids because of it lol. Didn’t bother me, because I didn’t care what they thought. I find it very hard to have to conform, I do not do it well. I tend to always stick out like a sore thumb, even if I am dressed only in jeans and a t-shirt, think it’s my rock’n’roll swagger or something 😉

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

Good for you.

I definitely cared what people thought of me in grade school and HS. I conformed to their expectations in order to “fit in.” I still did my own thing, by I wasn’t really “my own person.”

Even as an adult, I would look to others to guide my actions. It was exhausting and I was not happy.

Once I decided to reclaim my freedom and be who I wanted to be . . . my life turned around. I started looking within for guidance and found much better counsel than I’d ever received from other people about how to live MY life.

They knew what worked for them . . . but they were in no position to know what would work for me.

Now (using an internal compass) I can honestly say . . . Who I am is who I WANT to be. It’s a better place to be.

Thanks, Alannah! 😀

Rosa - March 8, 2011

Rock n Roll swagger! I love it!!

3. suzicate - March 8, 2011

When we understand who we really are, we free ourselves from the illusions that hold us back. – LOVE that quote. I spent way too much time in my past worrying about what people thought of me and trying to be who each person wanted me to be. Somewhere along the line I wised up, got to know myself, and now I am what I am -take me or leave me! What actually provoked this post was a serious criminal incident of someone we know…we were shocked and later realized the symptoms were right in front of us the entire time. Even had we been close to this person I doubt that we could have helped as there were underlying circumstances driving it…I can only imagine what the family is going through.I find it more difficult to set aside judgments when you are affected in a “round about way”.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

I recommend your post to anyone. It raises fascinating questions about people we think we know.

The same thing happened to us a few years ago. Someone close was charged with a crime that we could not imagine them committing.

I still don’t know where the truth lies.

And likely never will . . . absent some divine inspiration.

That got me thinking about what I “know” or think I know about others. I decided that I don’t know anything about anyone . . . except what they choose to share ~ the edited, condensed version.

That made me realize that spending valuable time trying to understand others was not a good use of my limited time on the planet.

So I turned my attention to ME. Not in a narcissistic way, but in an effort to fully understand WHO I AM, right here right now. The more mindful I became of my actions, the more confident I became about what I am here to do.

The more I trusted myself, the less I cared what others thought about me, and the less I stressed about the choices that others choose to make. I don’t have time to live my life and their life at the same time. All we can do is encourage others to make the best possible choices based on the resources they have at their disposal.

Now when someone thinks that they know better how I should live my life, I just smile and think, “Whose shoes are they anyway?”

Thanks, Suzi. Your post has received some great comments . . . showing that you touched on a terrific topic ~ a topic which inspires thought.

4. suzicate - March 8, 2011

I’m sorry I forgot to thank you for the shout out!

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

You’re welcome.

5. theonlycin - March 8, 2011

I used to be terribly worried if I sensed animosity from someone, learning to not care was a long and hard process.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

It is difficult because we are both hard-wired and socialized to care what the “tribe” thinks of us. In the days of the caveman, our survival depended on not being voted “off the island.”

And, these days, the churches and government and media want us to want to fit in and care about what people think of us because it makes us easier to control. And they are all in the control game.

Learning to walk was a long and hard {{ouch!}} process too, but we kept getting up and trying again because we knew it was worth it . . . our freedom was at stake.

6. Lisa - March 8, 2011

I am working on being me, but sometimes that is a challenge. Thank you for a thought provoking post.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

As e.e.cummings notes:

To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e.cummings

We forfeit our freedom when we are slaves to what others want us to be, do, say, or think.

Keep on truckin’!

7. Chad - March 8, 2011

If you had not at some point conformed to expectations, you would not now be in a good position to ignore them. Your timing is impeccable as always.

Also, what is so special about being yourself? It’s impossible NOT to be yourself.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

Thank you. Timing is everything. 😛

In my experience, it is quite possible to be who others want us to be, losing ourself in the process. If that has not been your experience, congratulations.

8. oldancestor - March 8, 2011

I’m not worried about winning approval or being liked, and I don’t look for validation from anyone but me (and my eventual publisher, who doesn’t know I exist yet).

I do care when people make inaccurate judgments about things I take pride in, like my work ethic. However, in my journey from young, insecure adult to old, cranky SOB, I care less with each passing day.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

Me too ~ every day, in every way, their opinions matter less and less. In short, my mantra is fast becoming, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

I have little or no control over people who are anxious to rush to judgment and criticize my actions, beliefs, philosophy, or work ethic. They are destined to misunderstand me. So be it.

Instead of focusing on things outside my control, I focus on what I can control . . . my thoughts.

I have 100% control ~ well, probably more like 97% (on my good days) ~ over how I choose to VIEW their rush to judgment and criticism.

“How we relate to the issue IS the issue.”

Let them point fingers and mock me. What do I care? I’m too busy enjoying the dance of life to notice. :mrgreen:

Thanks, OA. You may be an old, cranky SOB but we love you anyway. (Not that you care.)

oldancestor - March 10, 2011


It’s a bit of a cliche, but deciding not to worry about things I can’t control was a pretty liberating decision. Most of the things I worried about were products of an anxious imagination anyway.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Exactly my experience ~ most things we worry about never happen anyway.

When we learn to quiet our anxious imaginations, we can put that nervous energy to more productive uses.

9. Maggie - March 8, 2011

This is something I often think about. I admit I do spend way too much time trying to figure others out – mostly because human psychology fascinates me – but I do realize that it’s a waste of time.

If I did completely figure someone else out (and I never would), what gain would that be for me? Absolutely nothing.

It’s much more difficult to work on yourself and figure out who you are because it involves digging deep into yourself, dredging up things from your past that may hurt you, forcing yourself to realize what your faults and imperfections are. I think that sometimes we try to know others first because it is much more painful to get know ourselves.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

I agree with you . . . if I understood everyone else on the planet, without first understanding myself, I would have little to show for all that effort.

But I have found that digging around in the past only helps me know who I WAS . . . not who I AM. If I want to know who I AM right here, right now . . . I just need to start using an internal compass.

Instead of looking to others to decide what to be, wear, do, think, or say, I look within and ask, What do I WANT? (Not, what did I want at 18 or 21 or 37 . . . What do I want right here, right now?)

At first, it’s hard, because other’s voices crowd out our own ~ including our own voice from 5 years ago, or 10 years ago. Listening to our essential self grows easier with practice.

It’s a bit like finding our writer’s voice . . . we must first recognize that we are searching for it and then we must wait, watch, and listen for it to surface.

Thanks, Maggie!

10. classyrose - March 8, 2011

I grew up with a father who was always worried about what others would say and I found myself not caring about what others would say.

I had to live my life the way I wanted to and if others didn’t like it, that was their problem not mine. I refused to let it bother me. 🙂

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

That’s awesome, Rose. On many decisions, I did what I wanted to do without worrying about what others thought.

But when I wanted to stop practicing law, it took about 3 years longer than it should have. I kept trying to persuade friends and family it was the right decision.

When they disagreed, I would second-guess myself: “Hmm, maybe they’re right. Maybe I am just tired and need a break. Maybe they know me better than I know myself. Maybe I should keep practicing law until I know what I want to do next.” The more I tried to be who “they” wanted me to be, the unhappier I grew.

Once I started using my happiness as my focal point, decisions got much easier. I stopped practicing law without worrying about what they thought. And then I made other life altering decisions that led me to this door.

Now . . . who I am is who I want to be. Yippee!

11. Jackie Paulson 1966 - March 8, 2011

Wonderful Reading here. I have been a barber for over 20 years. I worked for a barber shop for 7 months just recently and on march 3rd up and QUIT. Kinda like out of the blue. But not really. I just “knew” its not my authentic self any longer. I have a part time job and a man to help pay the bills. But I am not worried about what anyone thinks of me this time around. I am doing what is best for me. I need to heal my face condition and the stress in my life. So this post came at a perfect time for me to keep reflecting on Me for once. Amen thanks. jackie

nrhatch - March 9, 2011

Thanks, Jackie. Hope when the dust settles, you are exactly where you need to be.

12. kateshrewsday - March 8, 2011

I often think about the struggle I have had to be true to myself – a continuing struggle. It seems to have become easier as I have got older.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

It does get easier over time, especially if we are mindful of the choices we are making and WHY we are making them.

Or maybe we just start to trust ourselves more to know what is “right” for us. 😀

13. souldipper - March 8, 2011

Suzi hit the nail on the head for me. I have to remember which way to wear my glasses!

Plus, I have learned to live with Maya Angelou’s philosophy – When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

My intuition has always been working, but I had to learn to trust it. And HOW to trust it.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

So true. I think I’ve always sensed the strength of my intuitive core, but didn’t trust that I knew how to read it properly.

And I love Maya’s philosophy.

I give people the benefit of the doubt . . . but I also give them a long enough cord so they can get tangled up in it. 🙂

14. Pseu - March 8, 2011

Those who judge us quickly and sharply are often those who are feeling insecure themselves. An insight into their psyche helps to put things in perspective.

I remember a story about a woman on a course that no-one really liked. Everyone skirted away from her and avoided her. She seemed sharp and judgmental, full of her own opinions and tactless.

On the course at one point the group had to move into groups and in pairs say nice things about each other and then in airs say nice things about others in the group. My friend recounts that she was the one paired with this awkward lady… but that the change in her was incredible to see- her whole demeanor changed, once she started accepting the positive things people had found to say about her.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

Good observation, Pseu.

As a general rule, when we accept ourselves, we are more accepting of others. When we are dissatisfied with ourselves, we are more antagonistic towards others.

One way to make someone feel more satisfied with his or herself (and less judgmental and antagonistic toward others) is to mention the positive qualities others see in them.

Even smiling at those we meet sends a message of warmth, caring and compassion that makes people feel better about themselves . . . and better about the world around them.

15. Rosa - March 8, 2011

Another thought provoking post, Nancy! And I’ve had a great time with the comments today too! I’d say the more time goes by in our lives, the easier it becomes to accept who we are… A little progress every day!

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

That’s the key.

Keep moving a bit closer to where we want to be . . . while taking time to enjoy the journey and the progress we’ve made.

16. jannatwrites - March 8, 2011

Interesting post. In looking back, there were many ways that I grew up wanting to please, but when it really mattered, I had my own mind. I wanted to ‘fit in’ but I didn’t do things that were wrong just because others did them.

I agree with some of the other comments that stated it’s a continual process – being me does get easier each day, and each day I care even less about what others think.

nrhatch - March 8, 2011

Thanks, Janna. It is a continual process, this unfolding to discover who we were always meant to be.

For me, the turning point came when I started to feel comfortable in my own skin, when I woke up to the realization that who I am is who I want to be.

At this point, I would not trade places with anyone else on the planet. It’s definitely a new-to-me experience and one that I savor and treasure.

17. Tilly Bud - March 9, 2011

It’s good advice to be yourself, but not always a good idea, I find. You can accidentally offend people 🙂

nrhatch - March 9, 2011

Thanks, Tilly Bud. I suppose it depends on what you’re talking about. I don’t want people running around picking their noses in public and then reaching out to shake my hand. Eww . . .

But, no matter what we say, do, think, or wear, we run the risk of offending other people. So we must constantly be asking ourselves: would I rather please them . . . or suit myself?

Since I cannot please all the people all of the time, and really have no control over their incomplete and skewed perceptions of me, I choose to please myself. It’s the only consistent frame of reference I have available to me.

“They” can accept me as I am or drift away. Makes no difference to me.

18. Tammy McLeod - March 9, 2011

What a wonderful post Nancy. I only wish that I had read it in my 30s! Oh well. It took me a long time to learn the filter bit that you speak of – that each of us have our own. The other issue for me (in the workplace) was that I would get performance reviews that said things like “tone down competitiveness”. These always had a negative effect on my self esteem as I would work and wonder too hard about what drove perceptions. Ultimately, I realized that “I am driven” and it doesn’t matter what we are talking about. And so now, in meetings and work I’ve really learned to value my own participation and the velocity with which I can take things. Sorry for the rant but it feels good.

nrhatch - March 9, 2011

I don’t want to go back to the angst-ridden years of HS and College to do them over but, like you, I wish that I had had some of what I know now with me as I traveled those bumpy roads.

Of course, if I had, maybe I would take it for granted that everyone is like this . . . instead of viewing my growing self-acceptance (and acceptance of others) as a late-in-life gift.

In any event, no apologies necessary.

Many performance reviews are not really designed to review the individual in question . . . they are designed to review the individual in question vis a vis the rest of the flock so that no one stands out like a sore thumb.

Conformity is the name of the game in corporate America.

19. Piglet in Portugal - March 9, 2011

What about you? Do you worry about what “they” think of you?
Nancy, they broke the mold when they me I’m afraid. LOL 🙂
However, I think we or at least I sometimes wonder how my friends see me and if they like what they see. If they can’t accept me for who I am do I really care or should I even care? Yes, in all honesty unfortunately I do.

nrhatch - March 9, 2011

OK. I like what I see when I see you.

Now, I don’t know much about you. So my opinion doesn’t count for much.

But (and here’s the kicker) . . . no one else knows enough about you to form a fully reasoned opinion. No one.

So . . . why substitute their judgment for yours?

Be the best PiP you can be.

If you know that you did your best that day . . . go to bed with a smile on your face.

If you know that you took dishonest shortcuts and did not live up to the bar you’ve set for yourself, resolve to do better the next day.

When you learn to accept yourself WHERE and AS you are . . . you will no longer need to look to others for reassurance. You will be able to look within and smile.


20. eof737 - March 10, 2011

I agree that it is a waste of time to worry but it isn’t a waste of time query. As far as ourselves go, if we waste our time being shaped by others views then we won’t be on our path but on their path…
It’s funny because I posed a question on my post to the spammers today; blog and email, and that is the query I reference.
Finally catching up as I try to shake a cold.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Good distinction, Eliz.

The better we understand each other . . . the better off we are.

But we need to recognize that perfect understanding is impossible and that we will be misinterpreted by others no matter how careful we are to correct their impressions of us.

Far better to just walk the walk . . .

Glad you’re feeling better. I can’t wait to see your question to the spammers. 😀

21. My Light Bag - February 19, 2014

I recently understood that I can’t ‘have it all’ or ‘be everything at once’. I wanted to be everyone: the successful businesswoman, the travelling hippie, the sexy fashionista, the intellectual…and the list goes on. I tried to be all of those things at once, failing at all of them (obviously!). And only recently I realised that I can only be ONE thing: myself. And that has made a weight fall of my chest. I can only realistically manage to be one thing. And I get to PICK which one I can be! Isn’t that magical? 🙂

nrhatch - February 19, 2014

FANTASTIC! You can be anything you want . . . but not everything you want. Choose wisely, grasshopper.

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