Managing Self-Knowledge

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A New Genre
7 Differences between Self-Help and Self-Knowledge Management
The Discipline of Self-Knowledge Management
4 Modes of Practice


“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken already.”Oscar Wilde

I am often asked whether I am writing self-help books. I used to say ‘yes’, because a better answer seemed too complicated to explain. Eventually I felt the need to clarify this awkward question once and for all, and Wikipedia had some surprising answers:

Did you know that the Bible is considered by some to be the first self-help book?

The first official self-help book was published in 1859, written by the Scottish author Samuel Smiles. The title was simply Self-Help. In its heyday the book was referred to as the ‘bible of mid-Victorian liberalism’. In today’s language we would say the book ‘went viral’ and turned Samuel Smiles into a celebrity.

The explosion of self-help books in the 20th century is caused by the fact that the self-help industry became very profitable. Suddenly everyone who considered themselves to be an expert on anything jumped at the opportunity to write their own ‘self-help book’.

Self-help appears to be a relatively easy genre –  anyone can be an expert at something, and you don’t even have to be a writer. To help budding self-help authors there are self-help books promising that ‘you can write a (self-help) book in a weekend’.

The final and definitive self-help book was published in 2011. It was written by the English journalist and author Oliver Burkeman and is called Help!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done.


A New Genre

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”Mary Oliver

It took me 17 years to hone my writing skills and get my first book ready for publication. I never wanted to write a ‘self-help book’, I wanted to write novels, but the material that emerged seemed to have a life of its own.

In the year 2000, after writing the first version of the Solo System, Josh and I coined the term Self-Knowledge Management. It is a combination of self-knowledge – a word used in mysticism and philosophy since ancient times – and knowledge-management, a concept introduced in the business world in the 1990s.

Self-knowledge management is designed to raise the awareness of our human subjective experience. It enables us to become more familiar with the functions of our Faculties and engage in the evolution of our own Consciousness. Why would we want to do that? – The short answer: because it makes our world a better place.

The practice of self-knowledge management naturally strengthens all 8 Faculties of human Consciousness – Will, Soul, Inspiration, Intuition, Imagination, Instinct, Intellect, and Body. It is an internal kind of yoga, involving mental and emotional stretches, improving flexibility and promoting alignment.

As a result of this practice the experience of everyday life becomes more fulfilling, partly because awareness is good for you – it helps all our Faculties to function better – and partly because its fundamental essence promotes inner clarity, well-being, and maturity. With self-knowledge management you become more skilful at mastering the whole spectrum of life.


7 Differences between Self-Help and Self-Knowledge Management

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”Ernest Hemingway

Self-knowledge management is designed to promote organic personal growth. It is not about identifying goals and practicing techniques to help us get what we think we want.

Instead we can learn to cultivate an environment in which we develop a deeper understanding of life, adapt with relative ease to inevitable changes, turn negative experiences into valuable lessons, and grow naturally into more mature versions of ourselves.

Here are 7 differences that may help distinguish further between self-help (SH) and self-knowledge management (SKM):

#1 SH applies an ‘expert mindset’.
SKM applies ‘beginner’s mind’.

#2 SH focuses on problem solving.
SKM focuses on evolving as a human being.

#3 SH raises expectations.
SKM raises awareness.

#4 SH promotes change through external advice.
SKM promotes change through internal paradigm shifts.

#5 SH identifies objective problems.
SKM identifies subjective experience.

#6 SH values techniques.
SKM values authenticity.

#7 SH develops know-how.
SKM develops self-knowledge.


The Discipline of Self-Knowledge Management

“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves.”Rachel Carson

Self-knowledge management emerged in parallel with the Solo System, a contemporary model of individual human Consciousness which I ‘downloaded’ in several episodes of inspiration in the late 1990s.  SKM is a discipline and practice using this model as a reference and starting point.

Self-knowledge is a birthright of every individual human being. The management of this knowledge enables us to access our precious resources for the benefit of our own lives, our communities and ultimately the whole world.

SKM is not an academic or scientific discipline. It uses all Faculties presented in the Solo System – Will, Soul, Inspiration, Intuition, Imagination, Instinct, Intellect, and Body – and all of them are regarded as equal. Moreover, the individual subjective experience is considered the most reliable source of information. These two fundamentals make SKM and the academic/scientific approach to studying the human condition mutually exclusive. (Academia and science value the dominance of the Intellect and take objective facts as the only reliable source of information).

SKM is a grassroots discipline for indie mystics, creative spirits, travellers on the heroic journey, and closet philosophers. In other words, it can be a path for anyone who is seeking for authentic and satisfying answers to the deeper questions in life.

Like any discipline SKM can be practiced in different modes, and all are equally valid. The primary reason for practicing SKM might be curiosity about human life in general, and a particular interest in your own.

You might be asking yourself questions about why your life is going the way it does and what you can do, if some things don’t turn out as expected. You might wonder whether something as simple and apparently intangible as self-knowledge management can really make a difference in real life.


4 Modes of Practice

“I don’t want to inhabit the world under false pretences.”Janet Frame

Having practiced SKM for over 2 decades I can confirm it has changed my life considerably. In the process I have discovered various creative talents, developed several new skills, healed a dysfunctional relationship pattern, learned how to transform emotional turmoil into fuel very efficiently, strengthened all of my 8 Faculties, and last but not least received the material for the Solo System. It has been an incredible journey, and life continues to unfold as an exciting adventure.

For me SKM has become a life style, but of course this doesn’t mean it’s got to be like that for everyone. Here are 4 modes of practicing SKM:

#1 – SKM for Readers Only
You read The Solo System and articles posted on the Inner Journey Project out of interest and curiosity. The material offers a unique perspective and stimulates your mind. Profound questions and topics are dealt with in a light-hearted, pragmatic and accessible way without dumbing them down. You enjoy the reading experience as a rare and refreshing opportunity to take a new look at life.

#2 – SKM for Crisis Management
You are faced with a problem, crisis, or creative block and are looking for efficient and reliable ways to resolve it. The practical Impulses of SKM (offered in the Solo System Workbooks and our weekly newsletters) offer a wide range of manageable and empowering solutions. Because all Impulses are designed to raise awareness and improve your understanding of yourself – and because awareness and understanding are proven ways to relieve any kind of suffering – it doesn’t matter where you start. Every little helps, and it’s all good practice.

#3 – SKM for the Heroic Journey
You are travelling on the heroic journey in search of your inner treasure, looking for a reliable companion. SKM and The Solo System series provide guidance and sustenance on this solitary path for all parts of your being. They offer the equivalent of ‘organic energy food for the soul’ and a wide range of ‘inner workout routines’. From those you can build your personal practice to suit your needs at all stages of the journey.

#4 – SKM for Practitioners
You are working with people in education, coaching, health care or creative pursuits and are looking for new input. The Solo System series presents a broad palette of innovative tools, and SKM offers a framework in which to apply them. For you this is a creative space where you can experiment, develop your own ideas further, make unique discoveries, build an original body of work, and contribute your expertise to the evolution of SKM.

These four modes are not hierarchical. In SKM we don’t distinguish between ‘beginner, intermediate, advanced, and master.’ The modes might alternate or blend into one another. In SKM all humans are considered equals. We are all experts at our own lives, and when faced with a problem, we always have to go ‘back to square one’.

We might like to practice SKM in different modes at different times depending on our current needs and priorities. A master can go through phases of ‘Read Only’, and a beginner can be perfectly qualified to offer ‘professional support’ to a fellow human.

If the practice of SKM seems complex and difficult it’s only because it is a new and radically different approach to life. It can be as simple as you want it to be. It is so simple that – with a little guidance – even young children can do it.


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