“Stare Into The Abyss And The Abyss Stares Back” (Meaning And Use)

Some proverbs are quite obvious in their meaning, while others make you sit and think for quite some time before you understand them. Such can be said about “stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back,” which often refers to how we can let ourselves become overwhelmed by what we’re afraid of when we focus on it. 

The Origins Of “Stare Into The Abyss And The Abyss Stares Back”

This particular quote is based on a famous quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, who was a very well-known German philosopher. Nietzsche was also very influential on psychology, and many of his ideas helped inspire some great psychologists from the past and present. His actual quote was “if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

It’s believed that when Nietzsche said this, he was referring to how we all have darkness within us, but what we choose to do about that darkness can define us and our futures. This darkness has to be acknowledged in order for us to properly confront the bad in us.

This specific quote, now considered a proverb in its own right, can be found in the book Beyond Good And Evil, which is one of the most celebrated items produced by Friedrich Nietzsche.

The Meaning Of “Stare Into The Abyss And The Abyss Stares Back”

This very famous saying from Nietzsche has been interpreted in many ways. One understanding of this quote is that we can become what we are afraid of should we continue to let it be the focal point of our thoughts. Additionally, many see this quote to mean that we can still find a lot of good in bad things if we look hard enough.

How To Use This Quote

People will often use this quote to try and inspire or motivate others to confront something that could be causing them distress. The nice thing about proverbs is that they can mean something a little bit different to everyone, and they offer some great opportunities for conversation with others.

Overall, this proverb advises someone to allow themselves to come to know all aspects of themselves. Even the most well-rounded people have their own flaws, and the sooner we can embrace them and learn from them, the better off we are as individuals.

The saying can also be a cautionary tale about how we can become way too immersed in our bad side if we let it win over the good. It can be a hard thing to try and battle these bad thoughts, but not trying to do so can become all-consuming.

Final Thoughts

Nietzsche shared a lot of insightful wisdom with the world, much of which has taken a long time to be appreciated. One such quote of his and how it has been interpreted, “stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back” has us acknowledge and overcome some of the darkness within ourselves, whatever that could mean to us so that we could once again see the light. If you are writing a blog post, then check out my review of KoalWriter here