“Self-awareness is one of the rarest of human commodities. I don't mean self-consciousness where you're limiting and evaluating yourself. I mean being aware of your own patterns.”
– Tony Robbins
Growth and change begin with self-awareness, the ability to look at our actions and behavior with clear eyes. To see where our thoughts and actions serve us and where they don’t is a huge step toward a more peaceful and happy life. All of the world’s great teachers from Socrates and Laozi, the ancient Chinese philosopher and reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, to the father of humanistic psychology Abraham Maslow, to modern life coach Tony Robbins preach awareness. We can easily deceive our self, for we have created strong defense mechanisms to lower our anxieties and protect our self-esteem. Self-awareness is a lifelong process for we are complex.
Walt Whitman wrote in Song of Myself:
“Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
I am large –
I contain multitudes.”
We all contain multitudes, some discovered, some hidden, some we like, some we don’t, some we understand, some we don’t understand. The big secret about our multitudes is that unless we are aware of what they are, we can’t be in control of ourselves. We need to know all of them--what irritates us, what we deeply love and what we only think we love. What are our urges and feelings?
Knowing our thoughts and feelings are crucial because they create our behaviors. What is our true self and what is our overlay, those ideas and behaviors taught us by others?
Shakespeare said this the best in Hamlet:
“To thine own self be true,
and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Being true to our own self does not mean being like we think we should be or even having fixed ideas about our self. It means examining our behavior, our beliefs, our desires, and accepting ourselves as we are. Being honest with our self about what we feel and looking at what those feelings create is crucial; it is the first step to coping with reality, and it opens us to change.
Self-awareness is why I created the MAGIC THEATER: Your Personal Journal. Journaling and working the exercises in that book (and others) will help you see yourself better, and it offers some tools for change. The same is true of my free eBook, Understanding Anger, on this website (you can download it here). My blogs deal with awareness and so does the new book, scheduled for fall release, MESSAGES FROM THE RIVER. I hope you will find my offerings and recommended resources of value to you as you move into your own self-awareness.