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It Takes Courage to Self-Realize

There is often a tension in life between what you’ve learned and what you’ve been taught. What’s the difference between the two? Is it true, or just familiar?

There is often a tension in life between what you’ve learned and what you’ve been taught. What’s the difference between the two? The things you’ve learned are the ideas and values you know deep down to be true. They may have been taught to you—by teachers, by family, or by experience—but they are realities that have been confirmed again and again. They are the external truths that align with your inner being. The things you have been taught, on the other hand, are the ideas you have accepted without question, or unconsciously internalized, or taken as “common sense.” These ideas are comfortable and familiar, even if they may also be harmful and false.

The tension here is between what is true and what is familiar, between the authority you have over yourself and the authority imposed on you by others. To fully realize yourself and your potential, you first must learn to be your own authority. This means we must challenge the ideas that we unthinkingly accept from family, culture, and society.

This, of course, is much more easily said than done. The problem with these conditioned ideas is that we believe that they are our own. Many of us hold beliefs that we believe we came to logically, but if we are honest with ourselves, we may see that they’re just ideas that we have absorbed and accepted without much thought. We are surrounded by our own culture and our own society at all times, so it can be difficult to even imagine thinking or acting in a different way. And when we do act in a manner that is not socially accepted, even if we’re doing what we know is right, we are made to feel like something is wrong with us. So there are all these pressures on us to not question why we act the way we act, why we value what we value, why we love what we love, and why we hate what we hate.

So how do we get ourselves out of this trap? It’s not easy. If we want to realize ourselves, we may sometimes have to isolate ourselves for a while. We need to take a moment to listen to our own inner voice, and that can be difficult when we’re surrounded by everybody else’s noise. And it is also difficult to discern your authentic inner voice from the voice of your ego, which exists to protect you from harm. Your ego tells you that you are always right and other people are always wrong. Your ego makes you believe that you can see every side of a situation even when you’re only looking at it from your own point of view. Your ego is afraid of change; it is afraid of growth. So separating your inner voice from your ego is another challenge to self-realization.

But self-realization is not just about blindly questioning everything and contradicting anything that comes from an authority figure or expert. You have to take time with each idea and weigh its validity against what your inner voice is telling you. Silence the voices of your social group, your culture, and your ego, and listen only to the truth. What is true must become more important than what is familiar or comforting.

If we learn to listen to our inner voice and become our own authority, we can realize ourselves. And only then can we truly renew and enhance ourselves and the world around us. What is really in your nature? Are you acting in line with your nature, or are you just doing what you’ve been conditioned to do? Challenge yourself. Ask yourself these questions every day, and you will soon realize your own potential.

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