The 3 Benefits to Solving Mysteries About Yourself


In film and in literature, there’s nothing more captivating than a good mystery. Whether it’s a hidden message encoded in a priceless painting, or a dusty robot carrying a plea for help, it’s easy to get drawn in by the mystery. When it comes to turning the camera around, however, we’re generally not as eager to explore mysteries about ourselves.

We may occasionally wonder why we react strongly to certain kinds of people, why it’s difficult for us to open up about specific topics, or why we engage in particular self-defeating behaviors. But instead of exploring those mysteries, we’re more likely to either run away from them or judge ourselves for having them. It’s understandable to be reluctant to face mysteries about ourselves. Perhaps we fear that exploring them may raise unwanted emotions or lead us to uncomfortable realizations.

But although it may be understandable, running away from these mysteries means missing out on three clear benefits of facing them head on. The first benefit is relief from the burden of carrying them around inside you. All the unanswered questions we have about ourselves don’t simply vanish when we ignore them. They stay inside us, and we carry those little question marks throughout our lives. The weight of that burden may not seem particularly heavy at any one moment, but it takes a toll as time goes on. Facing and solving those mysteries releases us from that burden.

The second benefit stems from the fact that we are often inclined to judge ourselves harshly for things we don’t understand about ourselves. For example, instead of asking with a spirit of curiosity, “Why do I get so angry when dealing with so-and-so?” we are instead inclined to ask more critically, “What’s wrong with me that I get so angry when dealing with so-and-so?” But as we unravel these mysteries and learn to better understand ourselves, judgment gradually gives way to compassion. Removing that unhealthy layer of self-criticism and replacing it with compassion is not only a benefit in it’s own right, but also an important step in the direction of change.

And that is the third and most essential benefit to solving these mysteries: the opportunity for change. Instead of being locked into habits of thought, emotion or behavior that we don’t understand, by making sense of how we are in the present we open up the potential for being different in the future. Making change will still require some work, but by better understanding ourselves we are more able to see the value in change and more likely to find the motivation to see it through.

#change #compassion #insight #history

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DAVID BERGER

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology

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