How well do you know yourself? Of course, it is more than than the people around you do, but to what extent?
Intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially? What about your preferences, mental capacity, abilities, skills? What makes you feel happy/fulfilled/joyous? What makes you feel awful? Depleted, angry, hopeless? What can you tolerate? What is best for you? Do you know what you can accomplish? Do? Become? Do you believe you are just what you see? Your body? Hair? Physical looks? Do you believe there is more to you? How well do you know your physical self? Are you treating it well? Do you know what it is saying to you? What kind of people are good for you? Are you living your best life? What makes you tick and why?
Whew. (wipes brow).
These are the questions to point an arrow to self awareness. Well, what is self-awareness, exactly? Why is it so important to have it? How do I develop it? What takes me away from it? What habits and behaviors prevent me from developing better self- awareness?
Firstly, What is self- awareness? Self- awareness is ultimately self-knowledge. Knowing yourself, knowing who you are, what you are about, what make you tick and why.
That was easy.
But why is it so important to have it? Let me explain it in this way. The basis for anything that happens in your life, is you. It depends on how much awareness you have for self(very little to a lot), and how you utilize it. The knowledge you have of your self determines the decisions you make; in relationships, lifestyle, career/purpose, wise or unwise. You are the captain of your own ship, the creator of your own life, self-awareness is a necessity, and very important. As you develop a higher level of self-awareness, or know yourself better, it naturally grow into self-love, trust, confidence, respect, and then you are better able to accurately identify your personal purpose. In my opinion, the reason why a lot of people are dysfunctional (fall into a myriad of bad habits/patterns, addictions), become hateful/mean/jealous and as well as violent/ dangerous are the result of lacking in self-awareness.
Before I give you a few pointers of how to develop(better) knowledge, first I want to bring your attention to something. Other people, or however you derive information, cannot tell you the truth of you, your core, what you need to know about yourself, only you possess it. Mind you, there are great teachers out there, that have a lot of useful information, but it is only to be used as a guide to help you find your own truth.
How do I develop (better) self- awareness?
- Spend time alone. That’s the first, and foremost thing. When you think about it, it makes sense. Learning of yourself, requires solitude, reflection,and quiet contemplation. Listen to your thoughts, ask your self questions, listen to the answers, and trust them. This is a skill, it takes time to do it.
- Requires you to be honest with yourself. A lot of us are not aware of our true self; we don’t even realize we are lying to our selves. We cannot know the truth of ourselves, until we weed through the misinformation/lies, distortions, beliefs that we were force fed/indoctrinated with. Get rid of the fear-based info. Anything that is not based on the truth of you. This is a process, and takes time and patience, but it is worth it.
- Meditation, is a tool used to get to the core of ourselves. We connect with the spiritual side of us, casting the mind, human stuff aside. Meditating allows us to quiet our mind( where the ego,old programs of who we think we are live) so the the real self can emerge, and receive Divine information about ourselves and life. Paying attention to our dreams(in both waking or sleeping), can hold a lot of clues to ourselves, and our life path. Pay attention to re-occurring dreams; themes, certain subject matter. Also, re-occurring thoughts/ ideas, impulses, flashes of insight; notice your feelings when having them.
- Notice your feelings/emotions toward certain things, circumstances/people. This can tell you a lot about you’re self, preferences, values, morals, desires, what is best/better for you, etc, of course if you pay attention. Use emotions/feelings/instincts as a tool to find out more about you. Pay attention to the consistent, nagging, feelings– this is your intuition talking to you. Learn to recognize it, and follow its direction. Experiences, in the many ways you have, are, teaching you about yourself and what’s best for you. Although the only way to benefit is to recognize and learn the lessons taught.
So what is it that we do to stop this development, or bring us away from it? First, self-awareness requires us to be present. So anything that stops/prevents us from staying connected, in touch with self, keeps you in a illusion/false reality, imbalanced; confused, agitated/anxious, or numb and detached. Many times when we are in a state of fear, and we are scared of ourselves; our feelings (pieces of ourselves that we deem unworthy, through shame, guilt, rage), we do not allow ourselves to truly dig inside into our true essence, and discover who we truly are.
These are some behaviors/habits that prevent develop better self-awareness:
- Staying busy. If you never have time for yourself— to breathe, be still, contemplate, reflect, listen to your thoughts, how can you be aware of yourself, never mind your surroundings? Not only that, being constantly preoccupied, causes anxiety, and stress, which adds another layer to block any kind of presence.
- Too much media. This can encompass TV (movies, reality shows,commercials), internet (social media, everything else), magazines, video games. Mind you there nothing wrong in indulging now and then, but to be engrossed frequently, is unhealthy. For the psyche, body/health, and relationships. Too much keeps you distracted (neglecting the needs of body), dulls the mind, sucks energy. Social media more specifically, keeps us engrossed in other’s lives; creates false realities/illusions/fantasies of how life “should” be, thus becoming insecure with feelings of inadequacy when we compare our lives to what we perceive as the ideal, or reality. It is a big distraction from our own life (goals, purpose,desires). TV, also projects false realities of things, people, relationships and careers (reality show, sitcoms).It glamorizes, over-inflates the importance of things, products (commercials, infomercials). There is a reason why it is called TV programming. Unconsciously, we are being “programmed” and indoctrinated with certain ideas and beliefs. Even video games, can of course, keep you a false/fantasy reality, as well as numb and detached, senses can become dulled (nervous system).When your senses are dulled, it would hard or impossible to receive guidance or direction from your intuition, from which it communicates.
- Drugs and alcohol. There is nothing wrong with a casual drink, and drugs….well it depends if is prescription(?) These are the substances that keep your mind in an altered state, detached from senses (physical body), not present in self.With excessive use it erodes the functioning and connectivity of body and mind. If you are not present in body or mind, how can you can you develop self and spiritual awareness? You’re not there.
- Co-dependent relationships/over identifying. Co dependent relationships are relationships without boundaries. The line to distinguish between you and the other person is invisible. There is no line of demarcation to separate your needs, responsibilities, mental, emotional space, uniqueness of self, and life from the other. Many times with this relationship, there is a chronic giver. The chronic giver is someone who skips over their needs to take care of the other person (needs, wants, emotions desires, responsibilities), exhausting their time, energy, emotions, over identifying with that person. Over identifying in my words is to “lose” yourself/identity in that person, and relationship.
Learning who you are is a life long journey; it takes patience and time, with a lot a bumps and detours–but is worth it for the peace and power it brings.
Check out Developing Self: Trust, Confidence and Respect: