“By understanding the enemy and yourself, you can engage in a hundred battles without ever being in danger.” — Sun Zi 孙子
This is good advice not only for those who have enemies but also those who battle challenges, temptations. Some of us don’t have enemies, but on a daily basis we are confronted with situations that test the firmness of our character, our grit.
As important as knowing what we are up against is knowing what we are and what we are not capable of doing. We need an honest assessment of ourselves and work from there. If we truly understand who or what we are up against, and we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses, we can be confident of not being defeated.
You can play with fire with the confidence that you won’t get burned. 😁
T. (I’ve been rereading Sun Zi’s Art of War. It’s always an interesting read.)
One of the lines that struck me from the season finale of Westworld, was spoken by Bernard to Maeve: “How can you learn from your mistakes, if you don’t remember them?”
Though some memories are better totally forgotten, these actually have contributed to our present selves. The “we” that we know is a product of all the experiences we have been through and our memories of them.
I think I have an earlier post on a similar theme, but I like musing on this idea: that awareness and understanding and acceptance of our past – all the good and the bad – help us deal with our present selves. I had some very sad experiences as a child, and even sadder and painful experiences as an adult, but I acknowledge that those same experiences have helped shape a more confident, wiser and stronger ME.
In my early twenties, I was made aware of certain patterns in my behavior towards certain people and circumstances. I would have the same problems, dilemmas over and over again. Same story, different people that I was unhappy with and different settings. It took me a while to see that I was following a pattern. Thankfully I was patient enough with myself and had the enthusiasm to write in my journal my thoughts and feelings during this very confusing period of my life. My journals have been a great help in my journey through self-awareness and self-acceptance. My memories have taught me how to handle my emotions better, and how to prevent myself from getting into an unhealthy pattern of behavior of unnecessarily feeling hurt by other people who may or may not have the intention to hurt me.
My memories have helped me narrow down my list of trusted friends. My memories remind me of the kind of people and situations I have to avoid to have some peace within, because it is true –one can be kind to everybody, but one can’t possibly have everyone as a friend. It may sound like I have built a wall around me, and that it’s not a good thing. I beg to differ though. I think we need walls to protect ourselves, but the walls have to have a door where we can let certain people in; and certainly with age, I feel this works for me. I do not feel the need to meet with so many people and have more “friends”. I do not get energized going to parties and making small talk with people who, just like me, are merely being polite. It’s exhausting. (But yes, once in a while, necessary which is why I socialize once or twice a month.)
However I enjoy being among my family and a handful of people I call friends, with whom I don’t have to be merely polite, but be able to show not only the loving and caring me, but also the silly, goofy me. Then I can laugh. And the laughter is real.
I recognize the changes I have gone through from being introverted as a child, extroverted as a teenager and twenty-something, and introverted again as an adult. This is quite common, I guess, as a number of people online have asked if people become more introverted with age.
The shift to introversion may be a result of the experiences older people have had and their memories of them. The mistakes they made in their lives somehow make them build a wall around themselves, not to hide themselves, but to let only a few people in – the ones they think are worth keeping. And with the wall too, they get to have more time for themselves and introspect and assess their lives.
I agree with Bernard, we should remember our mistakes. We should have memories. And we should be mindful of them. Learn from them. Or we risk making the same mistakes we did in our youth,trapped in a looped narrative and not even knowing it. That is just sad.
I wrote this in December 2016. I don’t remember why I didn’t post this though. Perhaps later I will re-read this and realize why I didn’t and then take it down. Lol. I’m looking forward to the next season of WW. But first, Game of Thrones!
In today’s society, people are more comfortable with being physically alone, but only because they have their smartphones to keep them company. “Alone but not lonely” has taken another meaning. But when you come to think of it, people who are alone among strangers are not really alone when they have their phones that they use to communicate with multiple people at the same time. They are probably even busier than when they are in face-to-face communication with other people, because with their phones, they can multi-text, or multitask.
I personally think it’s nearly impossible to let a day pass without using the smartphone. I know I cannot, especially when I am living away from my young son, and every day I video chat with him and my family to make sure everything is alright. Businesspeople would probably lose money or business if they miss a call or message from an important client. Employees and students may miss an important announcement. Truly I can understand how difficult it is for people who have already made online communication an integral part of their lives, to forego using it even for a day.
However with people’s addiction to social media and online games to pass time, people are getting farther and farther away from knowing the one person that they should know best: themselves. It is sad seeing adults posting numerous pictures of themselves and what they are doing on social media. One can forgive young people, as they are still growing and their brains have not fully developed (until mid-20s), and therefore, neurologically speaking, cannot be considered mature or be expected to act or think like an adult. But quadragenarians and older should know better (unless their brains, too, have not as yet fully developed.)
With social media addiction, it seems people know more about what other people are doing than they know themselves. And that is all they know – what others are doing. They do not really know the person they are “following” (or really, stalking) because, online, there’s hardly any sharing of thoughts, only small talk. Worse, social media can cause undue stress to people who post or read information, as everything that is made public can be commented on and used and abused by all kinds of people with all kinds of I.Q., E.Q. or mental condition.
I am not against technology or social media at all. I know its benefits. I use them every day of my life. But I hope people will find a way to use technology and social media in more meaningful ways. They can certainly make our lives easier, and they should. Technology is supposed to help humans live more comfortable lives, not a stressful one. Technology has allowed us to have more time for ourselves, and this is one of the greatest gifts technology has given us. We can be more human – we have more time to think, more time to feel, more time to know ourselves and become better people.
And we can only achieve that if we know ourselves first. We need solitude – not only to relax or relieve stress, but also to know ourselves better and be able to understand others better.
Next time you have stress, try putting your phone away, be quiet and try listening to your heartbeat, and then to every single sound that you hear, be aware of every movement that you feel or see, every scent. Just be in the present. The more you do this, the sharper your senses will be. And you’ll know your body. And you’ll know and understand yourself. That’s better than sighing after playing Bejewelled, don’t you think?
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” -Marcus Aurelius
Nothing relaxes me more than being alone and quiet on a quiet beach– feeling the ripples touching my feet, seeing the waves at a distance and hearing their rhythmic sound like a mantra, smelling the briny scent of the sea and feeling the breeze on my skin.
I had lots of quiet moments at quiet beaches back in the Philippines. I have one precious memory of being in a stilt-hut a few meters from the shore. It was part of the property owned by the Carmelite Sisters at whose monastery I was having a one-week retreat. One week of quiet except for a one-hour visit three times that week from the retreat directress.
Whenever I get overwhelmed with tasks and life, and I cannot go away to have some quiet time on the beach, all I do is recall that time of solitude — quiet, and peace, and self-awareness. And that’s enough to relax me.