Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Is Self Awareness?

Self AwarenessSelf Awareness (Photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers)By Anita Narayan

Self awareness is an essential skill when it comes to personal growth and success. In fact it is like a foundation stone out of which a lot of things build. Self awareness is so important that it can often be the difference between reaction and response, constraint and problem solving, creativity and rigidity to name but a few.

Whether you are looking to learn more about your mind, heart and emotions, your capacity for self awareness will increase your understanding and your ability to translate that understanding to your life in an effective way.

So what is self awareness? Simply put it is the act and process of observing yourself, and how you interact with your environment, including situations and other people.

It involves noticing and acknowledging how things impact you and vice versa. In other words it is an interactive, two way process of noticing influence and impact.

How To Increase Self Awareness

The simple way to increase self awareness is firstly to direct your attention to yourself in a chosen situation. It can be any situation of your choosing, for example sitting alone in silence. Secondly notice your emotions, your thoughts, your spirit and your physical experience.

In the example above [sitting alone in silence] you may experience physical restlessness, mind chatter, tension and general discomfort. It may happen immediately or after 5 minutes.

You may then want to choose an opposite scenario [sitting in a noisy environment] for sheer contrast and to gauge the scope of your experience.

You can increase self awareness through direct experience, or from a certain level of knowledge acquired in theory. In essence it is about the process of increasing your perception and knowledge of yourself.

This leads nicely onto the consideration of what makes for effective self-awareness. There are three key areas to consider.

1. Perception

Perception is an integral part of the process of self awareness and by definition it is about a view point rather than a fact. The way to increase perception and become more perceptive is to view yourself from as many different angles as possible, and notice the subtle nuances that go to make you who you are. One way to increase the different angles from which you view yourself is through the use of different and incisive questions. For example 'when I am at my most stressful state how does it manifest?' and 'what conditions cause me to feel highly stressed?' 'What enables me to feel in control?'

2. Accurate Reflection

There is a difference between these two statements:- 'I am depressed' and 'I feel depressed'. In the first statement the person is equating themselves to depression. In effect they are saying that they personify depression. In the second statement the person is describing the emotion they are feeling as opposed to identifying with the state. The first statement is a judgemental statement and an inaccurate statement if what the person is really trying to do is describe their feeling, rather than saying who they are.

3. Application of Self Knowledge

Self awareness is ultimately about self knowledge, but self knowledge is not enough if you do nothing with it. Applied knowledge is what makes a difference to your life. In that the perceptual process is about a view point, it does not necessarily represent truth and fact. Therefore it is important when observing and noticing yourself, that you do so without judgement. Judgement by its nature tends to suppress any resourcefulness. Without resourcefulness self awareness loses its purpose.

Meditation is a process that is both effective in increasing self-awareness and resourcefulness. This is a potent combination because self awareness on its own is without effect unless it translates into growth and effects change.

There are two aspects to meditation that help this to happen. Firstly the direction of attention to self as described above. The second stage goes beyond that focussed awareness, to finding the space between the observations, thoughts and feelings, referred to as going into the emptiness. The act of creating internal space via letting go, rather than dwelling on our observations, is what creates resourcefulness and new solutions.

The concept is akin to having a clear out or a declutter of stuff you have accrued over a period of time that you no longer have need of. The idea is that when you create space, by letting go of old stuff, new things can enter that space.

Ultimately the increase of self knowledge leads to more possibilities and choices for your life that you will not perceive otherwise, unless you engage with the process.

So whether through meditation or other practice, make self awareness an essential part of your personal development.

Anita Narayan is a highly endorsed author, speaker and coach. She is soon to release her book Breaking Free From The Prison Of Survival which has received top industry endorsement

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