The Value of Self Examination

“You learn in life,” states Katharine Hepburn, “that the only person you can really correct and change is yourself.” I agree, yet many of us are guilty of trying to change others while making little effort to change ourselves.

Why? Why do we spend so much energy and time seeking to change others when our own lives are not as they ought to be? It was Socrates who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” There is great value in the practice of self-examination, yet many of us never cash in. We continue to live our lives out of place. Like the prodigal son in the parable found in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel of Luke, our lives are not at all what they could be while we have yet to come to our senses. It was only when the young prodigal took stock of his condition that he took the necessary steps to change his life and, by doing so, claimed his true self.

I realize it is more comfortable to examine the lives of others than to dare to be honest concerning ourselves. But, there is very little value in judging others while we continue to make our home among the pigs.

The question is, “How is it that we come to our senses when we have developed the habit of ignoring our own false while magnifying the shortcomings of others?” Well, St. Ignatius of Loyola, gives an efficient method of self-examination in his five-point process of “Spiritual Exercise” which he engaged in each day as a part of his devotional life. First, he thanked God for all the benefits he received. Second, St. Ignatius asked God for grace to know and correct his faults. Third, he reviewed the hours of his day, noting what transgressions he had committed in deed, word, thought, or omission. Fourth, there was the asking for forgiveness. Finally, he committed himself to change what needed to change based upon the Christian ethic.

Lao Tzu said, “He who knows others is learned: He who knows himself is wise.” There is great value in self-examination. The question is, “DO YOU AND I HAVE THE COURAGE TO CASH IN?

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