Knowing yourself to defend yourself from manipulations

In the general audience, Pope Francis continued with his catechetical cycle on discernment: “The spiritual life has its passwords: words that refer to what we are most sensitive to. It is important to know them to protect ourselves from those who present themselves with persuasive words to manipulate us and present with excessive importance beautiful but illusory things”

Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City

We are with our spiritual “passwords”, the “words that touch the heart because they refer to what we are most sensitive to”. And there’s the devil, the “tempter,” who “knows these keywords well” and touches our nerves raw, tempting us, hypnotizing us, luring us “with the lure” of careers, qualifications, relationships.

“Beautiful but illusory” things. Then there is God, the only one who can give us the “confirmation” of our value: “he tells us every day from the cross: he died for us, to show us how valuable we are in his eyes”. In his general audience, Pope Francis continued his cycle of catechism on discernment and on this first Wednesday of October, addressing thousands of faithful in Saint Peter’s Square, he invited them to delve into the depths of their souls to “know themselves”. What makes us rejoice, what makes us suffer, what makes us capitulate.

know yourself

“Good discernment also requires self-knowledge. Indeed, it involves our human faculties: memory, intellect, will, affections,” the Pope explained.

“Often we do not know how to discern because we do not know ourselves well enough, and therefore we do not know what we really want”

It is precisely from this “insufficient dialogue between religious life and our human, cognitive and affective dimension” that “spiritual doubts and vocational crises” arise.

“They have heard many times: “But that person, why doesn’t he fix his life? He never knew what he wanted…”. There are people who… And then yes, his life goes like this, because he doesn’t know what he wants either. Without going to that extreme, but it also happens to us that we don’t know what we want, we don’t know each other well”

The temptation to dress up

The Pope cited in this regard The wheat and the tares, by Thomas Green, who “pointed out how many difficulties in the matter of discernment point to problems of another kind, which need to be recognized and explored.” This is how this “author of spirituality” writes:

“I have come to the conviction that the greatest obstacle to true discernment (and true growth in prayer) is not the intangible nature of God, but the fact that we don’t know ourselves enough, and don’t even want to know ourselves.” as we really are. Almost all of us hide behind a mask, not only in front of others, but also when we look in the mirror.”

“We are all tempted to be masked even in front of ourselves,” Francisco said. “Forgetting God’s presence in our lives goes hand in hand with ignoring ourselves – ignoring God and ignoring ourselves – our personality traits and deepest desires.”

Disengage the “autopilot”

Knowing yourself is not difficult, but it is exhausting: it involves patient digging within. It requires the ability to stop, to “disconnect the autopilot”, to become aware of our way of doing things, of the feelings that inhabit us, of the recurring thoughts that condition us, many times without us realizing it.

It also requires one to “distinguish between the emotions and the spiritual faculties.” “I feel is not the same as I am convinced; feeling is not the same as wanting”, explained the Pontiff. Thus we come to “recognize that the view we have of ourselves and of reality is sometimes a little distorted.” For the Pope, “to realize this is a grace”. In fact:

“Many times it can happen that erroneous convictions about reality, based on past experiences, strongly influence us, limiting our freedom to play for what really counts in our life”

Spiritual Passwords and Devil’s Manipulations

Francisco deepened his reflection with a computer metaphor, that of passwords, necessary to enter the programs where personal information is stored.

“Even the spiritual life has its passwords: there are words that touch the heart because they refer to what we are most sensitive to”

The tempter, that is, the devil, knows these keywords well, and it is important that we know them too, so as not to find ourselves where we do not want to be.

“Temptation does not necessarily suggest bad things, but often messy things, presented with excessive importance. In this way, it hypnotizes us with the attraction that these things arouse in us, which are beautiful but illusory, which cannot fulfill what they promise, leaving us in the end with a feeling of emptiness and sadness. That feeling of emptiness and sadness is a sign that we have “taken” a path that was not the right one, that has disoriented us.”

“They can be, for example, a title, a career, relationships, all praiseworthy things in themselves, but towards which, if we are not free, we run the risk of harboring unrealistic expectations, such as confirmation of our worth,” he warned. Pope Francis. And he added speaking spontaneously:

“You, for example, when you think of a study that you are doing, do you think of it only to promote yourself, for your own interest, or also to serve the community? There you can see what the intention of each one of us is”

Protect us from those who manipulate us

It is from this misunderstanding that “the greatest suffering often results, because none of these things can be the guarantee of our dignity”, observed the Bishop of Rome. “That is why – he said – it is important to know ourselves, to know the passwords of our hearts, to what we are most sensitive to, to protect ourselves from those who present themselves with persuasive words to manipulate us, but also to recognize what is really important for us. us, distinguishing it from the fashions of the moment or from flashy and superficial slogans”.

“Many times what is said on a television program, in an announcement that is made, touches our hearts and makes us go around without freedom. Be careful with that: am I free or am I carried away by the feelings of the moment, or the provocations of the moment?

the examination of conscience

The Bishop of Rome added that an aid is the examination of conscience, that is, “the good habit of calmly rereading what happens in our day, learning to notice in our evaluations and choices what we give more importance to, what we seek and why what, and what we finally found”.

Above all, learn to recognize what satisfies the heart. Because only the Lord can give us the confirmation of our value… There is no obstacle or failure that can prevent the tender embrace of him.

Knowing yourself to defend yourself from manipulations – Vatican News