To Know Ourselves Is To Forget Ourselves

to_know_yourself_is_to_forget_yourself When I face something that makes me uncomfortable, especially if it triggers me, I want to run.

Uncomfortable may even be an understatement. It’s more like scared shitless. A no-way-in-hell-am-I-going-through-THAT-again kind of fear.

Sitting with questions, rather than answers, makes me extremely itchy. Uncomfortable.

Sitting with feelings of discomfort, my shortcomings, weaknesses and failures and allowing them to just be, feels like torture. Failure.

You see, I’m a doer. A fixer. I like answers and I like knowing that there’s probably an answer out there for everything.

It’s so much safer, easier even, if there’s an answer. The guidelines are laid right out and we follow them. Rules. Safe.

When I’m triggered by someone else’s pain, I want to fix it. I want to make it better. I want to do something about it. NOW.

To give that person relief from the depths of hurt they seem to be swimming in is, at that moment, the most important thing I need to do.

Except, there’s a big hurdle here. I’m in triggered state.

This means, I can’t honestly act from a place of pure presence. I can’t just be there for them. My own stories, tape-recordings, and memories are playing full force behind the scenes. They’re blinding me from being fully present and compassionate. And, they’re very painful. For me.

Because I’m in pain, I want to fix the situation and fix it now.

I want the other person to be all better because really, I want to be all better.

If I can’t make that person all better, the shame settles in and I feel like hell. Then, I quietly and quickly retreat.


It’s too much, it hurts too much. I’m in too much pain. I can’t fix them. I don’t know what to do. This can’t be right.

What a story, right?

It’s amazing (truly) how our triggers, pain, and hurt takes us right to those dark places inside ourselves that need our healing. Our light.

And that’s all that that pain needs. Our full presence. Us fully showing up for ourselves.

Our pain, hurt and shame are like huge batman spotlights in our personal skies, screaming at us, “STOP HERE. THIS IS THE PLACE THAT NEEDS YOU.”

Except, the knee jerk for most of us is to run like hell. Maybe even build a walled fortress around it and bury the evidence. To get as far away from that pain as possible.

While working through this conundrum of wanting to be there yet sometimes being blindsided by my own stuff so I can’t really be there, I found this article by Pema Chodron who quoted Dogen:

To know yourself is to forget yourself. ---Dogen Zen-ji

When I read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s so simple yet PROFOUND.

And it described exactly what I was working towards.

By genuinely looking on the inside and getting to know ourselves---our feelings, thoughts, who we really are---we begin to tear down the walls, stone by huge stone, that separate us from others.

As long as we’re closed off---behind our own walls---we can never truly be there for another.

As long as we believe these long held stories we have, we can never really connect with another.

As long as we’re afraid of really knowing ourselves, even the painful parts, the walls we’ve built will stay strong.

And real, heartfelt connection will be lost.

Knowing ourselves and learning about who we are---while some may argue it’s egocentric or all-about-me---is actually the key to meaningful connection. With ourselves. With each other.

Knowing ourselves is the key to true love. For ourselves. For each other.

Knowing ourselves allows us to move past the incessant, painful triggers and really BE THERE. Present. Fully showing up.

To know ourselves is to forget ourselves.