How Self-Aware Are You?
By Randi G. Fine
If you were asked the question, “Who are you,” how would you respond? Would you state your name and occupation, describe your physical characteristics, and talk about the roles you play, or would you describe the true essence of your being? How you answer that question depends on your level of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the method by which we recognize ourselves as individuals who are distinctly separate from other individuals and our surrounding environment. It is the introspective ability we each have to recognize our attitudes, needs, values, opinions, tendencies, reactions, thoughts, emotions, and aptitudes.
To be self-aware we must be able to look well beyond the roles we play, the things we do, and our physical attributes. These aspects of ourselves are certainly important and necessary, but in relation to all we are and all we can become, they play a very small role.
It is through self-awareness that we examine our pre-existing conditions, distinguishing those that are self-fulfilling from those that are self-limiting. We must be willing to challenge old beliefs and release the emotions that are attached to them.
Beginning in childhood we are given messages, sometimes subtle sometimes not, that we integrate into our thought processes. We are told what we are capable of doing and what we are not. These messages become part of our belief systems. Our belief systems define who we think we are.
As adults it is our responsibility to re-examine our pre-existing beliefs and identify the ones that are self-defeating, the ones that deprive us of our personal power. We never have to be stuck with our current thought processes or circumstances. Life is meant to be lived deliberately. That is why there are endless options to choose from.
As I look back over the years I see that much of my suffering could have been prevented by having keener self-awareness. My lack of self-awareness made me vulnerable to manipulation. Schemers marked me as someone they could easily take advantage of. Accidents happened because my mind was elsewhere. Predators observed my every move while I remained oblivious. I blindly believed in people whose only interest was benefiting themselves.
I do not blame myself for what happened or for my lack of awareness because I honestly did not know any better. Once I knew better I did better. We can only change what we understand; whether or not we choose to use the knowledge to better ourselves is entirely up to us.
Everyone suffers. No one goes through life unscathed. Ask anyone what they have gone through in life and be prepared to listen to at least three potentially victimizing life experiences, with little deliberation. The older one gets the more pain he will have lived through. We all suffer adversity, mishaps, tragedy. We all experience discouragement, stumbling blocks, frustration. But we do not all dwell on these things and we do not all becomes victims of life.
Have you ever heard someone say, “That’s just the way I am,” as an excuse to not take responsibility for the way he lives his life? What he might as well say is, “I am not willing to improve who I am,” because that is a more truthful statement. If that is one’s choice he is entitled to it as long as he assumes responsibility for his stance. Some of us want to progress ourselves through introspection, some of us do not.
Whether or not someone wants to delve into the many facets of his or her individuality comes down to personal choice. One does not have to have an introspective nature to have happiness, success, or a full life. Many people live fulfilling lives without ever discovering who they truly are. It is all relative to the life experience one desires. In fact, few of us achieve total self-awareness or are self-aware one-hundred percent of the time.
Self-awareness is an ongoing process of reflection. It is a process of discovery, individual to each of us, that is achieved through the honest exploration of the self. It is a fairly simple process that occurs over time. The payoff is tremendous; it can profoundly transform our lives.
The process that brings us to self-awareness is a domino effect. The first step is making the choice to know ourselves. That awakens us to becoming more self-aware. As we become more self-aware we gain a fuller understanding of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Through that understanding we are prepared to make the best choices for ourselves. We arrive at these choices based on what we learn from past experiences, how we consciously live in our present reality, and how open we are to all the possibilities our futures hold.
The better the results of our choices, the more we become aware of the power we hold over our lives. The knowledge that we have control over our lives leads us to greater self-awareness. The more aware we are of ourselves and desires, the more positive changes we can make in our lives.
Living is not about focusing on what we are doing wrong. It is about improving what we are doing right and finding new ways to expand the experiences of our personal journeys.
Self-awareness requires courage; the hardest person we will ever have to face is the one reflected back to us in the mirror. Whether acknowledged or not, the fears we think lie dormant inside of us are actively being lived every moment of every day. They affect everything we do, think, and say. They hold back progress.
How wasteful it would be to spend an entire life living with fear and denial. What then is the point of living?
Our lives change when we open our eyes to self-awareness. Why not make the conscious choice to shove all obstacles aside, and then reach in and seize the prize that is there for the taking—your power of intent?
This article is an excerpt from Randi Fine’s book:
Awaken From Life: Lessons for Discovering Your Personal Truths