Do We Truly Know Ourselves?

Created: 2024-05-16 | Last edited: 2024-05-17

Recently I have been reading Focus on What Matters by Darius Foroux (recommended to me by my Father, good book regardless of how advanced your stoic knowledge is). In one chapter Foroux states "I think we all know ourselves — how can we not? After all, you can only be yourself. From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, you're right there with your thoughts and personality." When I read this statement I instantaneously thought that this is not true for many people in the modern day.

The majority of people are currently overstimulated and/or distracted often. Over half of adults in the U.S. use TikTok and even more use some social media platform. Think of a time period where you used social media and consumed lots of content online, maybe even now, were you actually in tune with your thoughts? Were you actually experiencing life and being alone and unstimulated enough to do any real thinking?

I know from personal experience that this is not the case. When I would spend hours each day mindlessly consuming, checking social media or be chronically online in general I know for a fact that I was almost never alone with my thoughts. This would mean that I was not listening to myself and may have no fully understood myself. But now that I have put in effort to break the poor habits of mindlessly consuming, I have been able to spend time alone with my thoughts. This has done wonders for developing my values, creativity and much more.

Maybe you haven't experienced this, if so that is great, keep up the good work. But as you know, all you have to do is walk outside to understand this for yourselves. Given any downtime many people will pull out their phones to distract themselves. They are alone with their thoughts for a mere moment and squander the opportunity to think and listen to themselves.

When thinking about this topic I was reminded of Soma from Brave New World. Below is what ScreenRant has to say about Soma.

"Since the citizens of New London are conditioned to take the soma medication from a young age, they become reliant on the drug to the point where everyone walks around in some sort of drugged state. Any sense of tension or confrontation causes characters to grab their soma dispenser. The drug allows society to have better control over the citizens since soma helps extract any sense of individuality. Without soma, people would start to get a better sense of who they truly are by experiencing all types of emotion, either good or bad. Stability would also be more difficult to achieve. "

Sound familiar? The effects of Soma seem eerily similar to the effects of mindless consumption (short form content, 24/7 news coverage, constantly listening to music, etc).

Take some time each day to sit alone, in silence. Let thoughts come in and follow them, its beautiful what can come of this.

A great quote that encompasses this pretty well is the following:

"Of course, we better not stop, otherwise, we'll have time to think, do introspection, deal with silence - and that is, indeed, scary."
     - Raul,

Below is a journal entry of mine from when I took dedicated time to sit down and force myself to have no stimulation after a period in my life where I was distracted, overstimulated and slacking in many areas of my life.