At present we see as through a mirror darkly, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
- 1 Cor. 13:12 (ESV)
Who am I? What is my place in the world? How am I different from others? How am I the same? What do I have to offer? Am I good, or am I bad? What am I responsible for? What is out of my control? What is expected of me? These questions define our consciousness. How we answer them determines our view of the world and of ourselves. These two views are not divided, but deeply connected. How we see the world and how we see ourselves are indistinguishable. Being aware of this is key to being aware of yourself.
It is my belief that we, human beings, are not supposed to have a “sub-conscious.” Or at least, that we can define maturity as the process of eating away at the subconscious until we live and act with complete self-awareness. You doubt? Just consider how we define the subconscious: needs, feelings, impulses, motives, and thoughts which direct our actions without our full awareness. Understanding the mirrored nature of reality is key to exposing our subconscious and facing our true selves.
How You Judge the World is How You Are Judged, and Also Judge Yourself
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
- Matthew 7:1-2 (ESV)
If your mind is full of thoughts of the failures, problems, and mistakes of others, then you also have a harsh view of your own self. In fact, you probably hate yourself so much, you can only survive by convincing yourself everyone else is worse than you. Your world is harsh, and you create a harsh world for everyone else. Those who are critical of others, live in a constant self-persecution within their own thoughts.
Do you see other people as full of potential and capacity for good? Then you likewise see yourself as a valuable part of the world. Your world is generous and you create a generous world for others. Those who accept the forgiveness of Christ, can forgive themselves, and are full of grace for others. Those who are kind to others, are kind to themselves and live peacefully with their own thoughts.
Look in the Mirror
If you want to know who you are, then just look in the mirror. The mirror is the world around you. What kind of world do you see? What do you see when you look at other people? When people hurt you, do you see evil? Or do you see another hurt person who needs grace? When people disappoint you, do you see room to help them grow or do you condemn them as unfit for your world? If your world is harsh, then the world you create for others is cruel, and your own thoughts are your worst persecutors.
A wise rabbi I know once said, “Those who hate a sinners the most, are those who wish they could partake in the sin. Those who hate adulterers usually wish they could commit adultery and get away with it too. Otherwise, why have so much anger towards the sin of another when it does not concern you? You are offended because you desire it.”
Our Shared Illusions of Rationalization
Part of the reason we are so tribal and prejudice is because we have a subconscious pact with our little micro-societies to share the same sins. In fact, I would argue that niches or cliques form more from common vices than interests. To leave our small worlds means to expose ourselves to judgement of another. As the saying goes, “Don't judge someone just because they sin differently than you.”
Part of the reason forming relationships, stepping out of our comfort zones, and breaking patterns of behavior are so key to growth is that it is so easy for our subconscious to hide in routine and familiar faces. When we meet new people we see new ways of living, new variations, new vices, and new virtues. We learn more about ourselves by learning about others. All the sudden the parts of ourselves we took for granted we now begin to question.
The World Inside You
The darkness in the world can corrupt your self-image, or your self-image can bring light to the world. The psyche is not a fortress, it is a river. It flows one way or another, but it does not stop. Those who are full of the love of Christ, who can learn to love themselves, can bring love into the world. When the world hurts you and brings you down, you need to ask yourself "by what self-standards has the world hurt me?"
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
- James 1:23-24 (ESV)
- What "sins of society" do you shake your head at the most?
- How much of your conversations are spend condemning society for these sins?
- How much of your conversations are spent talking negatively about others?
- How much do you feel loved, by yourself and others? How do you feel when you are alone?
- How easy is it for you to meet new people? How much do you fear their judgement?
- How much should others fear your judgement?