In his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Peterson, 2018) has following quote:

If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself. That does not only mean that you suppress who you are, although it also means that. It means that so much of what you could be will never be forced by necessity to come forward. This is a biological truth, as well as a conceptual truth. When you explore boldly, when you voluntarily confront the unknown, you gather information and build your renewed self out of that information. That is the conceptual element. However, researchers have recently discovered that new genes in the central nervous system turn themselves on when an organism is placed (or places itself) in a new situation. These genes code for new proteins. These proteins are the building blocks for new structures in the brain. This means that a lot of you is still nascent, in the most physical of senses, and will not be called forth by stasis. You have to say something, go somewhere and do things to get turned on.

I am puzzled what he means by word reveal above?

why would you not want to reveal (whatever he means) yourself? Can you give some explanations what you think?


Peterson, J. (2018). 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Toronto: Penguin Random House. ISBN: 0345816021

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is on topic because it is not related to the science of psychology or neuroscience, it's just some unsourced unsupported rambling. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 22 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause: Peterson seems a lot more famous for his politics than his science. $\endgroup$ – Fizz May 23 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ gdan, for some reason that probably has most to do with Petersen's political opinions rather than anything else, his self-help book has received a lot of press coverage; you can read the Wikipedia summary of those reviews and decide for yourself if the book makes any sense $\endgroup$ – Fizz May 23 at 5:34
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    $\begingroup$ As @BryanKrause pointed out, the text referred to is not related to the science of psychology per se because it is unreferenced, but this passage is actually referring to the johari window I spoke about in an earlier answer $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers May 23 at 8:51
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    $\begingroup$ Also Wikipedia is being kind to Petersen theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/23/… and by looking at the wiki talk page, I mean his fans barely allowed one critical review on that wiki page, after tons of arguments. $\endgroup$ – Fizz May 23 at 9:15

Re-reading the whole quote and not just the first 3 sentences there does seem to be some ramblings which need citations to back his claims.

The crux of your question:

I am puzzled [with] what he means by [the] word reveal above?

why would you not want to reveal (whatever he means) yourself?

The first 3 sentences loosely refer to the concept of the johari window which I spoke about in another answer.

The basic concept of the johari window is that in order to reveal yourself fully to yourself (who you are) you need to reveal yourself to others. There can be abilities you have, and maybe aspects to your personality, which are unknown to you but others may see if you allow them to see them.

As for why you would not want to reveal yourself, there can be numerous reasons. One example was used by Paterson in the same part of the book (Rule 8: Tell the truth — or, at least, don't lie)

Consider the person who insists that everything is right in her life. She avoids conflict, and smiles, and does what she is asked to do. She finds a niche and hides in it. She does not question authority or put her own ideas forward, and does not complain when mistreated. She strives for invisibility, like a fish in the centre of a swarming school.

This person is hiding herself. She is not revealing her thoughts and ideas, so therefore she is not revealing herself.

If she revealed her thoughts and ideas she would be seen and heard, therefore putting the knowledge out there that she can think for herself.

On the other hand, she may not see that she can think for herself. Maybe she thinks her ideas are not going to be correct or even be considered.

To find out more about the concept of the johari window, the links in the other answer (linked above) could help.

After those first 3 sentences, the quote gives so-called explanations referring to genes in the central nervous system (CNS) which I cannot vouch for and feel maybe a bit far fetched, although I must point out that I am not fully conversant with the neuroscience. The problem with this part of the quote is that nothing mentioned is referenced, just like the first 3 sentences.

What I have found through basic internet searches is as follows:

Genetics of the nervous system refers to the study of genetics affecting the development, physiology and functions of the nervous system and diseases thereof
(nature.com n.d.)


Several diseases that directly affect the nervous system have a genetic component: some are due to a mutation in a single gene, others are proving to have a more complex mode of inheritance. As our understanding of the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders deepens, common themes begin to emerge...
(National Center for Biotechnology Information 1998)

Whether this part of the quote can be relevant to the situation may be answered by others here, but seeing as you haven't asked about that directly I feel a separate question would be needed for that.


National Center for Biotechnology Information (1998). The Nervous System. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22197

nature.com (n.d.). Genetics of the nervous system. Retreived from https://www.nature.com/subjects/genetics-of-the-nervous-system

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – AliceD May 23 at 18:30

If you don't reveal the truth you are more likely to have confused sense of self and more likely to be influenced by the way other's perceive or really the way you imagine other's perceive you.


Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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