The term self-discovery causes most people to squirm. Most people associate self-discovery with new age types that wear goatees and skull caps with Rasta stripes on them. Most people that want to get in touch with their inner child find controlled substances to be the best transportation devices when used in conjunction with Arthur Janov’s Primal Scream therapy. Most people associate self-discovery with people getting nude and judging all their fellow nude participants in an asexual, spiritual, and thus beautiful manner. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We’ve all seen cable presentations document some fortysomething, in swaddling, trying to spiritually relive a moment in time that they believe was stolen from them by circumstance. We see these people as violating “normal” maturation methods and immature individuals that want people to look at them in a manner they’ve never been looked at. Most people see self-discovery as self-indulgence for the self-indulgent. Most people have had the term self-discovery bastardized so often that the term makes them squirm when they hear it.
My Grandfather, and the WWII generation in general, held stoic silence as the key to machismo. Some would tell you that they didn’t speak of such matters for the simple reason that they didn’t want to relive the horrors visited upon them. Others would tell you that the WWII generation exhibited a degree of humility that has been lost on subsequent generations. The final attribute that I’ve heard attributed to those that don’t speak of their lives is that this habit was simply ingrained in them by the generation before them. To the WWII generation, talking about the pressing matters of their lives equates to complaining about them, and that it’s self-indulgent to do so.
The result for those of us that sat on the knees of the WWII generation is that we didn’t know anything substantial about them, until they passed away. How many times have you heard a member of my generation say: “If I had only known this person while they were still alive, I could’ve had such a much better relationship with them.” Yet, when we see our generation’s “self-discovery” types go on Oprah, or Facebook, to reveal every intimate detail of their lives we cringe. We think our forebears may have been onto something with this whole humility through silence. The alternatives appear to be simply embarrassing.
There is a middle ground. There is a way to let your loved ones know you without going overboard into the sappy. You don’t have to weep, tell your children about your overbearing father, or the bully that tormented you in high school, or your feelings in general. There is a way to pass that which you’ve learned in life on, because those of us sitting on your knee are dying to learn the lessons you learned in life. The consequence of doing otherwise, is that all that you learned in life will die on the vine, and we knee-sitters will be even more prone to make the same mistakes you did.
The non-emotional, reflective person can learn who they are by pulling the onion layers away to discover their true core. Is it important to learn who you are by dissecting your past and learning who you are by who you were? I think it is, but as with anything else moderation is the key. Should you sit in a circle and open up to a support group? No, but you can relive your past, through the knee-sitters, and teach them some things that may have been foreign to them previously. When they’re sitting on your knee, you can live your life, vicariously through them, by recounting all that you’ve been through. Will they learn enough to avoid making similar incidents in life, probably not, but they can use your knowledge in conjunction with theirs, and retain the knowledge they’ve learned through their own experiences a little better.
Self-discovery is what new agers call it, and these new agers engage in self-discovery by getting in touch with their inner-child. Their sentences always start with the ‘I’ word, and they expect you to smile with a sigh when they openly reflect. Do you love yourself as you are? Do you think about whether or not you love yourself? You may either have too much time on your hands, or you may be suffering from an acute case of what medical science calls self-indulgence. It doesn’t have to be this way.