You can’t forget what you don’t know. Take driving as an example. When you become a confident and competent driver you’re no longer conscious of every single thing you do as you drive – in effect you ‘forget’ you are driving. But it is essential for you to really know how to drive before this forgetting can happen.
So perhaps we can only forget ourselves after we know ourselves. Nowadays we think of self-knowledge as all affirmations and positivity. This isn’t necessarily all that there is to knowing yourself.
Regardless of what we think we might do if we lived in Nazi Germany – or any other repressive regime – statistically the chances are that we would, at best, be part of the silent majority who let evil flourish.
So what part of yourself might facilitate this? What part of me?
In his many lectures, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, suggests that we look at ourselves until we can work out our dark side because this knowledge will make us careful of how we act in the world. His hypothesis is that when we know we are dealing with a loaded weapon rather than some ineffectual feather-duster, this will help us to achieve the great good we are all also capable of achieving. (1)
Self-mastery is only possible through self-knowledge, so perhaps if we are also interested in being selfless as well as being in control of ourselves, then perhaps we must first have a good understanding of who we really are and how we really work.