We have no way of knowing the world directly. Your brain is lodged within an enclosed dark space inside your head. It cannot peek out to see or smell or hear or touch the world outside of your body. To know anything about the world we must rely on our senses: eyes, ears, nose etc. But, working alone, our eyes do not see, our fingers do not feel, our nose cannot smell, nor can our ears hear. It is the extraordinarily complex interaction between our brain and our senses that allows us to know the world. We must learn how to see and smell and hear. Our brain must learn to interpret the trillions of pieces of information it receives so that we can perceive and know the world outside of our bodies.
Sometimes as a psychologist I think that, just like in our physical world, we have no direct way of knowing ourselves. Perhaps we are only a result of our physical being or perhaps we are much more. Either way it is the extraordinarily complex interaction between our genes, upbringing, physical state, beliefs and life experiences that seem to determine us. Yet we have capacity to reflect on who we are and to make choice and to change. How marvellous and what a responsibility.
Perhaps it is in retirement that we have a golden opportunity along with experience and self-knowledge to really make the most of this ability….to reflect, choose and change. This can be difficult. It may help to have the assistance of another, objective but caring, person such as a psychologist.
The act of brave self-reflection and courageous change can make for a more meaningful life in retirement.
Judy Rafferty is the author of Retirement Your Way, A Practical Guide to Knowing What You Want and How to Get It, at all good bookshops and online.