“Know thyself”, we are told, but how?

“Know thyself”, we are told, but how?
Do you have clarity in how you go about things, in your daily tasks, your movements, your thinking? Or are you like most people at the mercy of your reactions, a prisoner of your habits. These can be habits of thought, of posture, and of personality. They are more honestly called your idiosyncrasies or eccentricities. And not all of them are endearing or helpful. You may like to think that this is what makes you you, but actually, these habits get in your way of being fully true to yourself.

We seldom see our own quirks; though they are obvious to others. They can see our walk, our way of talking, our habitual phrases and ways of thinking. But we are mostly blind to ourselves and the causes behind our actions. They are elusive because they have become too familiar for us to notice. As a result, we fail to notice all the stumbling blocks to our happiness, ones we have ourselves created. These get in the way of our making the changes we wish for ourselves.


There are ways to get to “see yourself” a bit as others do, and even better. What we need are mirrors, literally and figuratively. The pioneer of holistic thinking, Fred Alexander, used mirrors to discover how his own use of his voice (and body in general). He set about using mirrors to see how he was making himself hoarse when reciting as an actor. He also used mirrors to explore a solution to his problem, which lay in changing the way he used himself – mind and body.

Also when we open ourselves to seeing ourselves in relation to others we can sense our own reactions, and how others respond to us. In relation to the objects around us, if we only pay attention, we can find clues to knowing ourselves better. For example, we can establish where we are in relation to the objects around us. We can also bring ourselves back into the present in this way, to be mindful.

But the Alexander Technique, established by Fred Alexander, offers the most direct “mirror” to our functioning, along with explicit help in letting go of unconstructive reactions and holding patterns.

Alexander Technique

Alexander Technique opens up possibilities for gaining clarity into your functioning.  It offers a tool to “know thyself”. This tool helps you be in control of your own reactions, giving you the ability to monitor, prevent, moderate or change your functioning – moment by moment. This develops real self-control, meaning that you learn to do what you choose and only what you choose to be doing.

The result will be that your self-confidence grows, bringing gravitas and sincerity to your demeanour. It can help us to be real with ourselves and offer real choices, freedom few of us understand and can exercise.

Without this skill, we are compelled to live half-blind to our present reality, to the self that should be in control. We have little choice to be who we really can be, and are captive to our past and our emotions. Without this rational skill, we are overwhelmed, our happiness frustrated, our lives undirected and unlived.

Alexander Technique teaches a way out of the conundrum, bringing our lives and behaviour back under our direct control.

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