Monday, October 15, 2007

“Know Thyself” – Especially in a Romantic Adult Loving Relationship

Historically, the Ancient Greek aphorism “Know yourself” (Greek: γνθι σεαυτόν or gnothi seauton) was inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. And interestingly, the aphorism has been attributed to at least six ancient Greek sages: Heraclitus, Chilon of Sparta (Chilon I 63, 25), Thales of Miletus, Socrates, Pythagoras, and Solon of Athens.

The saying “Know thyself” may refer by extension to the ideal of understanding human behavior, morals, and thought, because ultimately to understand oneself is to understand other humans as well. However, the ancient Greek philosophers thought that no person can ever comprehend the human spirit and thought thoroughly, so it would have been almost inconceivable to know oneself fully. Therefore, the saying may refer to a less ambitious ideal, such as knowing one’s own habits, morals, temperament, ability to control anger, and other aspects of human behavior that we struggle with on a daily basis.

As most of you know, I currently am writing a self-help book tentatively titled Your Adult Loving Relationships with a good friend and colleague Dr. Bill Lambos. This weekend we concluded writing the final first draft of Chapter 19, entitled “Relationship Analysis.” Throughout the chapter, we basically suggest that in a romantic adult loving relationship… partners’ knowledge and appreciations of (1) themselves, (2) each other, and (3) their relationship are paramount to having a meaningful, functional, healthy and “good” relationship. Below is the beginning of Chapter 19:

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Since the days of the ancients, “Know thyself” has been offered as sound advice to one and all. Now there’s a life-long challenge. And at times it can seem far more challenging than knowing another person. This makes basic sense. Where self-knowledge is concerned, by definition, the knower and the person known are one and the same person. And, since such knowledge changes the knower, the very process of self-discovery must be dynamic and ever-evolving by nature. As a friend of Dr. Emener’s once said at a dinner conversation, “Whenever I begin to feel like I am beginning to know myself, that new self-knowledge affects me. It changes me. Then I have to start all over again. When will it ever end?”

In a somewhat similar tongue-in-cheek yet serious manner, another in the group quipped, “When you die.”

“And if you think knowing yourself is a challenge, try understanding a relationship between two people – especially if you’re one of the two,” Dr. Emener added.

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Question: How well do you know yourself, your partner and your relationship?


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