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Develop Self Awareness

Articles, audios and videos to understand and develop it

Self Awareness Definition:

It will help to have an understanding of what self awareness is before running off to develop it. Self awareness could be defined many ways as it is personal and subjective. For now we will define self awareness as the clear perception of oneself, including thoughts in the mind, emotions, physiology, and behaviors. The critical term here is “clear perception”. This is not your Inner Critic’s description of you, or your mind’s victim or ego persona’s description of you. These voices of your mind are just two ways that your clear perception can be fogged over and interfere with Self Awareness. As you increase self awareness you separate from these voices in your head and believe them less. In this way self awareness is related to expanded or increased consciousness.

Self Awareness changes the relationship to your thoughts and your mind. The gap between having a thought and being able to choose not to believe it is an aspect self-awareness. Self-awareness is a state of perception and has to do with how you see and feel things internally. Being aware of your thoughts and emotions from a conscious observer state as they happen is a degree of awareness. Some people have thoughts and can think about their thinking. This is called -meta-thinking. This is a level of awareness. It means they can observe their thinking, analyze it, see the limitations of assumptions, be skeptical, and consider alternative perspectives.  Continue reading

Self-awareness also means being present with your emotions. In a conscious aware state you can have lots of emotions and can refrain from acting the out or voicing them. Bursting out in a reaction of anger or frustration and then afterwards realizing you got carried away is lacking self-awareness. The self-judgment, guilt, and feeling bad for over-reacting, is also a lapse of self-awareness. It means that your mind runs thoughts out of control and takes you for an emotional ride. You might know it is happening which is good one level, but being able to change perspective, and not believe those thoughts is much greater awareness and consciousness. In this way you see self awareness is measured on a spectrum rather than a “do you have it or not” scale. 

Practices to Develop Self Awareness

1. Practice the breathing exercise in this audio    “How To Relax”

To notice the details and underlying layers of our emotions, behavior, and more subtle thoughts you will need to be relaxed. You miss things when you are stressed. The more relaxed you are the more subtle aspects of thoughts, feelings, and emotions you can notice. Practice this relaxation technique daily. The goal is to practice 10 min or more twice a day, and for 1 and 2 minutes intervals every hour. You may have to work up to this. 

2. Practice shifting your perspective to the observer using this audio.

One aspect of self awareness is being able to look at things from multiple perspectives. Sometimes this is measured by being accurate about how others would describe us. This is the ability to look at ourselves from their perspective. To do this we also have to step outside the narrative voices in our head. This guided exercise will help you see that your mind can make multiple self images, and that you can believe them or not. 

3. Combine exercises 1 and 2 and do them at the same time. 

What you may notice is that during your relaxation breathing your brain and mind will function differently. You will have different ideas, and even be more creative in your thinking. Since you are more relaxed, your attention will be less drawn to the outside world, and you will pick up on more subtle things happening in your mind and emotions. 

If you want to go further into these practices and others to develop more self awareness, you can sign up for the four free lessons of the Self Mastery Course

“How self aware are you?”

The problem with asking someone or taking a test is that their responses may be coming from their intellect, ego, or projected image.  The part of ourselves that we put forward in a job interview or first date might show up to take the test. This might be very different from how we behave under stress or from the person who is alone with their thoughts about themselves. Who are you, or do you pretend to be around others, and who are you when you are alone with yourself?  Do these feel like different people?  The amount of disparity is a measure of how the different parts of your personality are in conflict.  (This is normal by the way in the beginning of self awareness work.) In the Self Mastery work you learn how to integrate and clean up these different aspects of our different “selves”. 

You might be aware of these differing aspects and feel like a fraud. However, if you are aware of the disparity it is likely that you have an Inner Critic voice about being a fraud, failure, or other negative self talk about this.  This kind of “self conscious” self talk should not be construed as self aware. Rather it is being caught up in the beliefs of the ego mind. So, being aware of these different aspects of your personality or masks, is a measure of self awareness. However, believing the self judgments for the variations, is a loss of awareness. Being a witness observer, aware of the mind’s judgment of these different aspects of your personality, and not believing them, would be a step back into conscious awareness. If this seems like a dance then you are understanding this correctly. Staying in awareness is a balancing act of consciousness. 

I’ll ask you, “Do you feel you are self aware?”

It may be interesting to see how you, or your mind wants to respond. You might notice the impulse to say “Yes.” Which part of you has the impulse to say “yes”, and which part is noticing this impulse? It is the ego that has the impulses. It is your awareness that is noticing these impulses.

If you answer Yes, then you are less curious, and perhaps less likely to learn anything new that would help you grow. 

The ego mind of beliefs is impulsive towards saying “Yes, I already have this awareness thing figured out.” If this is the case you are watching the ego give a response without necessarily doing any research or without an objective self-evaluation. Yes, you have your life experience, and you may be able to be aware of some aspects of yourself. But is what you see 100% of the color spectrum of what you could see with more self-awareness? It is an interesting challenge. One in which you don’t get to learn anything new until you first genuinely assume a mindset that you don’t have a full picture. This willingness to be an open-minded beginner is the opposite to the default setting of the ego.

The other aspect of the ego is the Victim persona that feels like it is a failure at everything.  It is just as likely to answer as a failure and say “No, I don’t have any self awareness and I never will”.  The common element in this paradigm is that no growth happens either.  Maintaining the status quo, even if it is misery, is the way the ego mind sculpts itself. 

Keys to Developing Self-Awareness

1. Commit some time. You are not going to get very far reading one book or listening to a podcast (although my Awareness and Consciousness Podcast is pretty good).  You will have to do more than absorb information. You will be going on a journey of change.

2. Develop Self Reflection Skills.  You will spend time exploring your emotions, beliefs, behaviors, ego, and thoughts, both ones you like, and the ones you don’t like.  Many people advise journaling. I think this can be helpful, but this depends on how you journal. I don’t recommend regular journaling as it may leave you trapped in normal patterns of thought and in your intellect. The writing exercises in the Self Mastery courses are designed to get you out of your conditioned thinking.  

3. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable emotions. The process is likely uncomfortable at times. This is typical of changing beliefs and dissolving ego behaviors. But, as you see changes, it will be worth it. When you become present with the beliefs driving your fears, or what the voice of the Inner Critic is doing in your head, and where it came from, you will understand more clearly what I mean. Because of this uncomfortable component most people don’t look that deeply unless their life (relationships, career, or health) has become painful in some way. The uncomfortable part of the process is a phase. After changes are integrated there is much greater peace within your Self. 

4. Practice focused exercises. The expansion of your conscious awareness reduces the ego and the beliefs of self image it has been hiding behind. This will be uncomfortable for the ego, and create humility. This won’t be intuitive and so you will need to engage in counter-intuitive practices.  

5. Develop skillful control of your attention. This is a simple thing to describe but difficult to do. You will need to practice. Much like learning to walk or learn a new language you will be developing new neural pathways in your brain and new muscles that you haven’t used before. Meditation is one aspect of this and can help, but is not the whole package. Can you maintain hold of your attention in a conversation, while emotions are being stirred up, and your mind is firing off rapid thoughts?  That’s when you need dominion over your attention to calm your system.

You will have to commit the time. The specific practices and exercises for developing self awareness can be found in the Self Mastery Courses. You can begin with the free introductory lessons. 

Why your Self Awareness matters

Why should you care about self-awareness? It’s your ego and unconscious beliefs that operate out of impulse. They will cause you emotional reactions and sabotaging behavior in your life. Self-Awareness is the antidote to the misery and self-sabotage your ego and unconscious beliefs cause. Here are some examples to give you a better understanding through context.

Suppose you get frustrated with an employee or co-worker because they didn’t do what you asked of them. What do you do then? Do you investigate to find out what they did and why, or do you go into blame and anger at them?  Do you listen to them explain what they understood the instructions to be and find out if you explained them clearly. Do you attempt to see the instructions from their perspective and see how they could have interpreted your same words differently than you meant them?  Or do you just assume it was their fault and give no consideration to how they might have perceived you differently. Depending on how much awareness you have about yourself will determine how open minded you are and the direction of the conversation. Therefore, self awareness matters to the quality of your work and personal relationships. It allows you to problem solve, discover how you can improve, and build trust in relationships. This is more valuable than a fixed mindset.

Awareness of emotions

A Self-Aware person will at least consider that there may be a good reason why expectations were not met. They will put their attention on a resource problem instead of assume people are screwing around. This is a much more useful and efficient use of energy over getting frustrated, running negative thoughts in your mind and venting those emotions to others.

Top level managers and executives have high level of self awareness. With that awareness they are able to monitor their thoughts and emotions and weed out the ones that are unhelpful. They can shift their perspective to the viewpoint of their employees and customers and understand their experience. This allows them to manage expectations and solve problems in a team oriented way.

Understanding, observing, and being able to change those seemingly small things, like expectations is an indication of self-awareness. Awareness not only makes you a much more efficient person at getting things done, it makes you a better person to work with, and emotionally happier.

Conscious awareness vs. the mind

The mind is a busy and complex place. We likely have 20,000-60,000 thoughts a day. They can be self judgments, that create guilt and shame. Thoughts can be about imagined futures and expectations that lead to successful achievement or disappointments. We make decisions that affect our emotions, relationships, career, and financial well being. Since the mind runs in automatic mode the way to improve this process and outcomes is somewhat limited. The mind needs an improvement process or adviser to conduct oversight so it doesn’t get carried away, and you with it. The way to improve the mind is through conscious awareness.

To do this mental oversight and improvement you need to have self-reflection skills about what the mind is doing. For the record, self-judgment is not compatible with improvement.  Side programs of the mind like self-judgment can hijack this process and it derails any chance for change or improvements.

Self awareness is the ability to observe not only your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, but your nervous system response and body language as well. By noticing what is going on at these levels you can make changes ripple outwards to manifestations in your life.

Self-awareness is the ability to identify the false identity and false thinking the mind projects such as “being right”. It is the conscious awareness to step out from behind the ego “idea” of “self” and see your “self” differently. If you have a reluctance, fear, or resistance to look inwards, self awareness will allow you to reframe that. You will be able to see that it is your ego-mind that is afraid of you observing and reflecting on what it is doing. It isn’t “your” fear, but rather a fear based belief. 

Awareness allows seeing the different aspects of yourself separate from your mind without judgment. There are tremendous advantages to separating your Self from your mind’s, or ego’s version of “self.”

Self-awareness or consciousness is what is cultivated in mindfulness practices and meditation. It allows you to get your ego reactions of fear, anger, frustration, and self-important agenda out of the way and work more effectively with people. It also leads to feeling happier in life. 

Self-awareness allows you to quiet your own mind, be calm, and listen to others. This is vital in negotiations, and your own personal relationships with your partner, children, or parents. Self-awareness is what you have more of when you have less ego.

Check out the free exercises in the Self Mastery Introductory course to develop more self awareness.

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Self Awareness Exercise

Moving out of your mind’s version of your “self” and seeing those versions from a neutral observer.  As you develop in awareness you experience yourself more as consciousness directing the mind instead of the mind defining you. 

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Eva Beronius and Gary van Warmerdam explore moving from identifying with the mind to realizing our Self as Consciousness.

August 31, 2020
#48: Becoming the observer – mindfulness practice

When we act in the way of a neutral observer we notice different things. We notice when thoughts are arising from parts of our ego and the emotions they produce. We can also notice the idealized version in the background of our mind being used as comparison.

January 7, 2016
#40: Self awareness and mindfulness

Understanding how your mind creates emotional reactions is key to making personal change. This understanding of the mind is done through mindfulness, also know as Self Awareness.

December 12, 2011
#25: Overcoming controlling behavior of jealousy and anger

David started the Self Mastery Course because of emotions and behaviors for jealousy, anger and controlling in relationships. It was difficult to see himself having this problem because David’s belief system masked and justified his behavior as “helping people”. In his mind he was serving and helping people.

April 6, 2009
#19: Understanding the spiritual journey

All self help, personal development, growth, and self awareness work is part of the Spiritual Journey. That’s because Spirit means Life. The mystery of the Spiritual Journey is that it happens within the realm of your perceptions, mind, emotions, and consciousness.

June 26, 2008
#18: Changing habits and overcoming addictions

People attempt to change a habit or addiction by going cold turkey. This often raises the expectation too high and can set a person up for failure if they don’t yet have a lot of personal power or discipline. The result is failing and self judgment.

May 17, 2008
#15: Finding your self

Finding your self or figuring out who you are is one of those eternal questions. We often struggle with it as teenagers, then again in our thirties, or during a mid life crisis. The struggle to know thy Self is as old as spiritual traditions that attempted to answer the question.

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#11: The ego mind and consciousness

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January 28, 2007
#10: Can you change your life

I often get asked if people can really change their life. They want to known if they can overcome fears, stop the judgments, and quiet the voice in their head. The answer is yes. However, when people ask, they usually ask with such fear and doubt that almost no amount of words will suffice. Perhaps this interview will help overcome some of those doubts.

January 1, 2007

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