Diva Rambling: What is Self-Awareness…

What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is the ability to introspect and be aware of your own thoughts, feelings, impulses, physical sensations, and behaviors. At a basic level, self-awareness is the ability to pay attention to who you are and what makes you tick. At more complex levels, self-awareness involves developing an understanding of your deeper beliefs, inner wounds, mental and emotional defense mechanisms, and repressed unconscious material – also known as self-understanding.
So what’s the difference between self-understanding and self-awareness?
Quite simply, self-awareness is recognizing your inner landscape. On the other hand, self-understanding is using that self-awareness to figure out something about yourself. Do you see the subtle difference?
No. They aren’t. The difference between humans and most animals is that humans possess both self-awareness and consciousness, while most animals only possess instinctual consciousness. According to one Scientific American article, “Consciousness is awareness of one’s body and one’s environment; self-awareness is recognition of that consciousness.” In other words, consciousness is an external focus, while self-awareness is an internal focus.
Self-Awareness Examples
Intellectually understanding self-awareness is all fine and dandy. But let’s go to the next level. What does self-awareness actually look like in action? Here are some self-awareness examples:
Angela keeps falling into toxic relationships with unavailable men. Finally, after her fifth failed relationship she has a revelation, “some unhealed part of me is attracting these men into my life.” She has experienced a moment of self-awareness.
Daniel has a weight issue that has caused diabetes. After coming back from work each day he goes on a massive food binge. Suddenly, while cramming a jammy doughnut into his mouth he realizes, “I always binge eat after coming back from work. Work must really stress me out.” He has had a moment of self-awareness.
Patricia struggles to make genuine connections with others – she also has an addiction to talking about people behind their backs. In the middle of a conversation with her no-nonsense work partner, the conversations come to a halt. “Why are you always gossiping about other people, Patricia?” Suddenly, a lightbulb goes off within Patricia’s head and she realizes why she can’t make genuine friends. She has temporarily become self-aware.
Rahul can’t stand his father in law, but he isn’t aware of it. His wife wants him to go to a fancy dinner with her family, but he adamantly refuses. “You won’t go!? I can’t believe this!” screams Rahul’s wife as she storms out and slams the door. Rahul stands there quietly and suddenly realizes how much he dislikes his wife’s father. He has had a spark of self-awareness.
Jayla constantly gets into arguments with other people. She thinks it’s because others are out to get her, but she doesn’t realize how poor her communication skills are. After interrupting her sister for the twentieth time, her sister explodes. “Why do you keep fucking interrupting me, Jayla? Just let me TALK already. It’s no wonder you’re constantly arguing with everyone – they can’t stand talking to you! Show some damn respect and let other people talk for once.” Jayla bursts into tears, realizing the harsh truth behind her sister’s words. She has experienced self-awareness.
Lebron has been in the dating game for years, but still hasn’t found “the one.” In the middle of a bout of depression, he realizes he has only been chasing after the girls his parents approve of. He has experienced a moment of self-awareness. On the next date he goes on, he decides to listen to his instincts rather than the voices of his parents in his head. After a few more dates he finds his soul-mate thanks to listening to his intuition. His life has changed thanks to self-awareness.
A few other examples of being self-aware include:
  • Being aware of your genuine feelings and emotions
  • Being aware of your beliefs
  • Being aware of your prejudices and biases
  • Being aware of the way you interact with others
  • Being aware of your habits
  • Being aware of how you wish to be perceived
  • Being aware of your worst fears
  • Being aware of inner conflicts
  • Being aware of your goals and dreams
  • Being aware of being aware (e.g. during meditation and contemplation)
Why is Self-Awareness Important?
Developing self-awareness is so important because without it we can easily become stuck in toxic patterns for years, even an entire lifetime (as many people do). Self-awareness is the very foundation of all emotional, psychological, and spiritual growth. A lack of self-awareness results in living an inauthentic and chaotic life that is driven by untamed impulses, unconscious habits, and unquestioned beliefs. To put it simply, self-awareness is so important because without it we become self-destructive.
How many times have you come across people who make the same mistakes, over and over again?
These people lack self-awareness.
How many times have you seen people thrive on drama and self-destructive behavior?
These people lack self-awareness.
What about those who inflict unspeakable violence upon others?
These people also lack self-awareness.
What about those who live most of their lives in boring, stagnant, and meaningless routines?
These people lack self-awareness.
Do you get the drift?
Give me any human problem and I will be able to trace it back to a lack of self-awareness.
It’s pretty tragic.
BUT, there is hope – and that is to make becoming self-aware a personal mission. When you become a model of self-awareness, others around you will also be positively influenced. Be the change you wish to see in the world (I know it’s cliche, but it’s very true guidance). Becoming self-aware is the number one thing you can do to make big shifts in your life. We’ll explore how to do that soon.
Why is it So Damn Hard to Be Self-Aware?
Developing self-awareness is so important because without it we can easily become stuck in toxic patterns for years, even an entire lifetime (as many people do). Self-awareness is the very foundation of all emotional, psychological, and spiritual growth. A lack of self-awareness results in living an inauthentic and chaotic life that is driven by untamed impulses, unconscious habits, and unquestioned beliefs. To put it simply, self-awareness is so important because without it we become self-destructive.
How many times have you come across people who make the same mistakes, over and over again?
These people lack self-awareness.
How many times have you seen people thrive on drama and self-destructive behavior?
These people lack self-awareness.
What about those who inflict unspeakable violence upon others?
These people also lack self-awareness.
What about those who live most of their lives in boring, stagnant, and meaningless routines?
These people lack self-awareness.
Do you get the drift?
Give me any human problem and I will be able to trace it back to a lack of self-awareness.
It’s pretty tragic.
BUT, there is hope – and that is to make becoming self-aware a personal mission. When you become a model of self-awareness, others around you will also be positively influenced. Be the change you wish to see in the world (I know it’s cliche, but it’s very true guidance). Becoming self-aware is the number one thing you can do to make big shifts in your life. We’ll explore how to do that soon.
Why is it So Damn Hard to Be Self-Aware?
The ego (the identity or sense of self that you carry) is a tricky little bugger. In order to maintain an image of itself, it must sustain and defend anything that challenges its existence. Inevitably, this need to “keep up the image” involves a whole lot of sly self-deception, resistance, subversiveness, and even a blatant avoidance of reality. As one person on Quora provocatively observed, “In short, the ego is a bullshit factory, and that process prefers to be undisturbed and unobserved.”
However, we also must be thankful for our egos. Without having an ego, or a  separate sense of self, we would be incapable of distinguishing ourselves from the oncoming truck that’s speeding towards us. Possessing an ego is a survival mechanism that helps us to ascertain what is ours vs. others – we absolutely need it to survive.
But there is a massive downside to having an ego (and you can read more about the ego’s shadow side here). The ego is diametrically opposed to self-awareness because being self-aware challenges, provokes, and sometimes even shatters the mask of the ego. I’ll give you a few examples why:
Example 1 – You’re having a fight with your partner for the fiftieth time that week. In a fit of rage, you smash your fist into the wall. “Why the hell did you do that you psycho!?!” your partner screams. “I’M NOT THE PSYCHO YOU PSYCHO! I INTENDED TO SMASH MY FIST THROUGH THAT WALL! I’M COMPLETELY FINE! WHY ARE YOU ACTING LIKE A PSYCHO!?!” After your partner ends the relationship, you suddenly realize that you had been projecting your issues onto them all along. You discover how much of an angry asshole you are and realize you’re to blame for the relationship breakdown. Ouch. That sting of self-awareness hurts like hell.
Example 2 – After scrolling through your social media stream you start to feel depressed and inadequate. Everyone else seems to have a better and more exciting life than you. You feel like a complete loser for the entire day. Suddenly, you have a light bulb moment: you feel so horrible because you have low self-esteem. Immediately the thought of having low self-worth makes you feel like even more of a loser, so you suppress and ignore the insight.
I could probably write a few more pages of examples, but do you see what I mean? Self-awareness can often be too much for the ego to handle. (This is why it’s so important to practice self-awareness along with self-care and self-love.)
The next reason why self-awareness is so difficult is literally that it’s programmed into us to do most things on autopilot. According to this Psychology Today article we operate on autopilot around 50% of the time. Can you imagine how difficult life would be if you had to remember to breathe, scratch your head, walk, blink, drive your car, use your phone, speak, and so forth? Most of what we do is on autopilot for a good reason: it’s a much more efficient way to live! We have evolved to become terrifically time and energy efficient creatures. In order to preserve energy and survive, we need to learn how to do things quickly. Unfortunately, that means that a large percentage of our lives can be lived in robot-mode. Therefore, self-awareness is so difficult because our biological programming makes it hard for us to be mindful.
So why, you may wonder, should we even bother to develop self-awareness if our psychology and biology seem to be working against us? The answer is that fortunately, we are so much more than our minds and bodies – we also possess a heart and soul – and it is the emotional and trans-personal elements of our being that drives us towards self-awareness. Not only that but becoming self-aware literally transforms every aspect of our lives for the better. We’ll explore that next.
Benefits of Self-Awareness
Developing self-awareness is one of the best paths you can ever take in this life. Here are some of the many benefits of self-awareness out there:
  • You become more authentic and empowered to be yourself
  • You develop a stronger connection with your intuition and inner wisdom
  • Your relationships become more loving and peaceful
  • You are more likely to discover your life purpose
  • You’re able to overcome addictions more easily
  • You become more self-supportive (rather than self-sabotaging)
  • You feel more confident in social situations
  • You’re able to change negative habits and mindsets
  • You’re able to take care of your health much more effectively
  • You live a more fulfilling life (that is based on your values, not others)
  • You feel more connected to your Soul
  • You feel more connected with existence
This is not an exhaustive list. There are WAY more benefits out there. But I just want to open a little door into the wondrous world of becoming self-aware.
Signs You Lack Self-Awareness
Are you a self-aware person? Think about this question for a minute.
How conscious are you really of the many thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that you exhibit during the day? If you have a tendency to do any of the following, you lack self-awareness:
  • You’re often unaware that your words or actions have hurt or offended another person (until they express it to you)
  • You’re self-destructive and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again
  • You have trouble identifying what exactly you are feeling or thinking
  • You struggle to identify what your true needs or desires are
  • You have a habit of behaving without thinking (i.e., you’re impulsive)
  • You’re often surprised by people’s perception of you (as they don’t match how you see yourself)
https://lonerwolf.com/self-awareness/ 
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