We hear a lot about self-awareness when we hang out in self-improvement sites or are intent on becoming what we term “a better person.” We want, in the words of the Army recruiting slogan to “Be all that we can be.” But do we know what that is?
Self-awareness is the awareness that one exists as an individual, separate from other people, with private thoughts and individual rights. It may also include the understanding that other people are similarly self-aware (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness.) In other words, what do you know about you?
When you look in the mirror who or what do you see? Do you see an image of a body only? Do you see black circles under the eyes, hair that needs to be combed or whiskers that need to be shaved? Is that all you see? Does the image smile back at you, frown at you, or simply look back with a deer-in-the-headlights stare? If you looked in the mirror to see who you really are, what would you see? Who would you see? Does your self-examination go any further than the physical reflection you see in the mirror?
Self-awareness includes answers to questions that range from simple and easy to profoundly complex.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Who am I? (Well, now, that’s a doozy isn’t it?) Well, who do you think you are? Really.
What do I like? About what? About everything. For instance, I like the color mauve, a perfectly cooked steak, a blue sky with big puffy clouds, clothes that are made well and fit properly, people who laugh, learning and discovering new things and ideas, comfortable furniture, a cat’s purr, Andrea Bocelli., good books, etc. This is an endless list and I like to think about it a lot. I use it for “rampages of appreciation.”
What do I dislike? This is personal and very individual. Well, for me, I dislike negativity, sour pickles, dogs that yap continuously, whining, the color avocado, snobs, horror movies, rap music, poverty, labels we put on people, and on and on. I don’t dwell on these, but am aware of what they are.
Even more questions
What do I want/desire? For myself? My family? For my community? etc. Is it o.k. to desire or am I to be content with what I have now? Does my desire motivate me or make me feel hopeless and helpless? When I get what I desire, then what?
What do I believe? About God, the Universe, humankind, money, politics, religion – yep, those things.
What things cause stress for me? Why? How can I avoid them or deal with them without stressing?
If I could start all over, what would I want to be or do? (Why can’t I do/be that now?)
What makes me happy? How does “happy” feel to me?
What makes me unhappy or sad? How does “unhappy” or “sad” show up in my life?
What are my “deep, dark secrets”? Is there something about me that I don’t want anyone else to know? Is this real or imagined?
What are my dreams?
Formulate your own questions
There are many more questions and each of us has our own answers. No one else can answer these questions for you. They can tell you what they think your answers should be but they cannot answer your questions—only you can do that.
Ways self-awareness helps you
Being self-aware helps you set boundaries, define goals and avoid pitfalls. It helps you find friends and perhaps even “true love.” It sets you on a path of discovery and adventure or quietude and reflection. It puts you in employment that satisfies and enriches in more ways than financial and lets you walk a path of joy and self realization. And it helps you approach the end of this lifetime with no regrets knowing that you did, indeed, become all that you could be or at least give it your very best shot.
It takes time and honesty
It takes time and honesty. Ask one question at a time and sit with it, walk with it, take it to work, play with it, meditate on it, laugh with it and, perhaps, cry with it. Get down to the bottom of it, write it down and, be ready to change your mind about it as you become more and more aware. Have fun with it.
An so, I ask again, “Just who are you, anyway?”