“It takes a person out of the ordinary. It takes a person out of themselves.”
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April 2019 Q and A by Jordan B Peterson
Licensed via Audio Jungle
Powerful Life Advice | Powerful Wisdom | Best Life Advice
The Greeks had the maxim “know thyself”. How do we come to know ourselves in terms of our personalities, and more importantly, potential? Well, one of the first ways to come to know yourself is to understand that you don’t. You know, you can learn to kind of watch yourself like you’re watching a stranger. But you have to adopt a position—this is a position of radical humility, I would say—humility in two senses. So, one sense would be: humility of recognizing your ignorance. So you have to understand that you don’t know who you are. And that’s not easy to understand, because you think you know, but then you know, you remember you can’t control yourself very well, you’re not very disciplined, you’re full of flaws, maybe you don’t know yourself as well as you think. But it’s hard to get low enough to understand how deeply it is the case that you are ignorant about who you are. Now, there’s an upside to that, too, which also is that you’re also ignorant about who you could be. And so, the discovery of that, you know, is some reward for the horror of determining who you actually are. Then I would say, well—then you watch yourself. You watch yourself like you’re watching a stranger. You watch what you say and you listen. You think, well, what sort of person would say that? And how am I reacting emotionally when I’m communicating in that manner? Is that making me feel stronger or weaker? Is it filling me with shame? Is it helping my confidence? Am I laying out a lie? Am I deceiving myself and other people? Am I adopting this personality at parties that is designed to impress and to amuse and it comes across as nothing but self centered narcissism? What are my dark fantasies? What are my aggressive fantasies? What is it that I’m willing to do? What am I interested in so that I’ll spontaneously pursue it? What do I procrastinate about and why? What am I unwilling to do? What do I think is good? What do I congratulate myself for accomplishing? And what do I berate myself for failing to confront and to implement? Those are all incredibly complicated questions and you don’t know the answers to them. So that’s—that’s a start. And then, in terms of potential, well, you’ll discover a little bit more about your potential as you discover who you are, especially the darker parts about yourself, because then you discover your potential for mayhem. There’s some real utility in that. It’s actually something that strengthens you, because the first thing that a realization like that can in fact produce is the ambition to incorporate that dangerousness into a higher order personality, and that can make you implacable. That can make you someone who can say “no” when you need to say “no.” You know? That can make you someone who won’t avoid necessary conflict. And so that’s unbelievably useful. And so that’s one of the potentials that you might discover. The other thing you do to discover your potential is to—well you challenge yourself. You know, it’s like—Rule 4 in my book “12 Rules for Life” is: compare yourself to who you were yesterday and not to who someone else is today, and that’s kind of a good way to start this…
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