Our self-awareness has to come prior to any decision we might then make to change and improve ourselves.

It involves seeing ourselves from the inside as well as from the outside — both subjectively and objectively. We bring our intentional focus upon the ways in which we personally perceive people and situations, and how we react, respond and deal with them.

Self-awareness involves the consideration of:

  • Whether your present-day perception of the experiences in your life actually come from your childhood experiences and expectations — which you might unintentionally be overlaying onto the current situations.
  • How you tend to think about things — e.g. do you jump to conclusions; have all-or-nothing thinking; negative judgement in the absence of facts or evidence; assume a thought to be a fact; automatic pessimism; mind-reading and guessing/assuming you know what someone or something really means and reacting ‘as-if’ it were the factual truth?
  • Recognizing and being able to name and regulate your own emotions so that they are appropriate and not just an automatic reaction based upon your prior conditioning. (However when we’re under real threat and danger we do need to be able to react immediately and automatically — to keep ourselves safe.)
  • Noticing your language, tone and non-verbal communication — and how these change depending upon who you are with
  • The impact that your thinking style and emotional reactions, language and behavior have upon other people and, as a consequence, why they then relate to you in the way they do

I believe that self-awareness is the first step towards change — we can’t change what we can’t see and acknowledge in ourselves.

When we are clear about who we are, what we are like and how we impact other people, then comes the next steps towards greater self-development.

Those are the steps of understanding why we are the way we are, and learning new skills to clarify, control, rebalance and choose our thinking patterns, emotional intelligence, and our behavior. We can transform into a better version of ourselves and create a much more positive ripple effect around us when we choose the path of self-awareness and growth.

I call this process S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life © — to make it one of your choosing, and not to blindly accept what has been handed down to you, and which you have been conditioned to follow based upon someone else’s preferences about who you should be and the life you should be living.

The Bigger Picture Of Self-Awareness

Different people live their lives at different levels of awareness and self-development. We see people behaving in ways that show that they’re at either a dormant, emerging or enhanced level of self-awareness.

Briefly the traits we might see in each of these three categories of self-awareness are:

Dormant Awareness

The focus is upon the ego and self-gratification

Lack of empathy, compassion or kindness towards others

Tendency towards bigotry, racism, violence and using people to meet own needs

Highly emotional and moody

A lack of personal health care and grooming

Substance abuse and addictions

Lack of self love

Inconsistent self esteem — often masked by bravado

Likely to gossip, shame and blame others

High levels of fear, guilt, shame, jealousy and envy

Preference for pornography and graphic violence and horror

Need to belong to a tribe or gang culture

Relationships tend to be fueled by drama, fear and neediness

Emerging Awareness

Less focus upon the self and more upon how to help others, showing consideration and empathy

Able to see that there is a ‘wider picture’ of society and world affairs

Interest in self enhancement

Becoming more able to debate and share reasoned opinions

Show self care and attention to health and lifestyle

Seeking meaning and purpose in life

Understanding and finding ways to regulate emotions

More tolerance and acceptance of the views of others

Love becomes reciprocal, mature and more rewarding

An interest in self-help literature and in learning more about themselves and other people

Enhanced Awareness

Greater tolerance and patience towards others

Heightened insight and an acceptance of the soul’s purpose

An enquiring mind with an interest in meditation, neuroscience, quantum science, and the Universe

Sharing of higher values of love, world peace, environmental protection

Seeking of like-minded souls to enhance their ongoing growth and development

Tendency to forgive others — not necessarily to forget, but to know that we all are doing the best we know how in the present circumstances

As you can probably imagine, it’s highly unlikely that someone with a dormant (or latent) level of awareness will be reading this!

We can overlap the later two stages and shift between them in different circumstances — they are not rigid or inflexible. Those with more enhanced self-awareness don’t regress back to the dormant levels.

We are all a work in progress but at least when we know what we are capable of and the levels we could reach it can inspire us to get there in the time we have left.

It’s important to accept that we are all at our own level, and learning what we need to learn. We should show acceptance and compassion to those who have different views, needs and behaviors to our own.

This can be a valuable lesson in itself. One which ultimately enhances our own self-awareness, personal and spiritual development.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR

www.maxineharley.com where you will find a page of FREE RESOURCES to help you on your own path to S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life for greater self-awareness, healing, recovery, growth and happiness

www.maxineharleymentoring.com — helping women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours — to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better.

Originally published at lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk on November 30, 2015.

Originally published at medium.com