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How to Discover Yourself Through Your Own Philosophy

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

There are now over eight billion people on the planet. We each have a different psychophysiological reaction to any given stimuli, no matter how minute the difference. From forks to forklifts, spoons to spoonerisms, folklore to philosophy. Every single one of us perceives everything differently.

The way I perceive the concept of something as simple as a tree is fundamentally different than the way every single other person perceives the “same” concept. This is due to our historically unique experiences with “trees.”

The memories we form influence our experience of perceiving trees. I may have fallen out of a tree and broken my arm. You may be blind and can only touch or smell a tree. I may have chopped down twenty trees to build a house. You may have crashed into a tree and totaled your car. The point is, every single historical interaction with a tree has formed a unique interpretation of “tree” in our psychophysiology.

The same thing applies to abstract concepts such as love, God, and philosophy. We each have historically unique experiences regarding these abstract concepts as well.

Which brings me to the point of this article: we should own up to the fact that we each have a devastatingly unique perception of all things, including philosophy. And rather than merely piggyback, kowtow, or place all our eggs into a single historical philosophy forsaking our individuality, we should make our individuality foremost and create our own philosophy out of the mulch, fodder, and compost of past philosophies.

We should double down on our uniqueness and fatten our individuality on the food of philosophies past.

Most people settle upon one established philosophy (religion, ideology, worldview), unaware that they have a unique perception of what that philosophy is. It is already the case that we perceive the concept of philosophy in a fundamentally different way than others do even within the same philosophy. Developing our own unique philosophy is simply becoming aware and honoring our unique perception.

It’s a matter of awareness and honor. Becoming aware of our unique perception of all things puts us into an existential pickle: We either admit it and honor it, or we deny it and dishonor it. If you choose the former, read on. If you choose the latter, not even the one-dimensional philosophy you lean on like a cripple can save you from yourself.

Here are five ways to discover yourself through your own philosophy…

1.) Practice self-inflicted philosophy:

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.” ~Dostoevsky

What does it mean to inflict yourself with philosophy? It means being ruthless with your perception of reality. No excuses. No mercy. No self-pity. It means forcing your head over the edge of the abyss. No rose-colored glasses. No pie-in-the-sky delusions. No safety nets. Just you and the eternal darkness. Just you and the rawness of nihilism. Just you and the existential angst.

You’re faced with the bleeding-meat realness of reality, a snarling darkness puking up all things. It forces you into a vital confrontation, demanding you think rather than believe. Full-frontal, no punches pulled, it grabs you by the throat and asks you, point blank, “Are you ready to accept that everything you believed was a lie?”

Self-inflicted philosophy forces you to perceive reality with a clean slate. It gets down to brass tacks. It’s philosophy in action. It digs down to the roots of the human condition. It cuts deep into the pulsing blister of the mortal wound. It reveals the lodestone. It’s your ticket to staying ahead of the curve because it exposes how everything is on the curve. No exceptions.

As Marcus Aurelius said, “All that exists is the seed of what will emerge from it. You think the only seeds are the ones that make plants or children? Go deeper.”

2.) See the world from the shoulders of multiple giants:

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” ~Isaac Newton

Don’t be afraid of becoming an autodidact. Read a lot. Connect the dots. Stay curious. Seek the shoulders of giants. Seek help, expertise, guidance, and wisdom from others. Become a sponge for higher knowledge. Soak it up. Ring it out. Repeat. Learn; unlearn; relearn.

Don’t cling. Never settle. Putting down roots on a giant’s shoulder is a death knell for your uniqueness. Jump! Take a leap of courage out of faith. Stay loose. Stay flexible. Create a scaffolding between giants. Keep your curiosity ahead of your certainty.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t allow their destiny to prevent your own. Rather, use their destiny to invigorate your own hero’s journey.