From the ancient Greek Aphorism “know thyself” to western psychology, the topic of self-awareness has been studied by philosophers and psychologists for the last century.
It is worthwhile to reflect on ‘self-awareness”. High levels of self-awareness are beneficial and buddhisim certainly points us to know and understand the concept of self. Simply put, self-awareness is an awareness of the self, with the self-being what creates one’s unique perspective and yes identity.
In my view, it is important to recognize that self-awareness is not only about what we notice about ourselves but also how we notice and monitor our inner world. Have you ever held judgment towards yourself regarding the thoughts or experiences you have? If so, then you are not alone, and there it is time to work towards a non-judgemental reflection of yourself.
This is of course easier said than done.
If non-judgmental quality is an essential component of self-awareness, how do we work towards that? As we notice what’s happening inside us, we can acknowledge and accept them as the inevitable part of being human, rather than giving ourselves a hard time about it.
Self-awareness goes beyond accumulating knowledge about ourselves: it is also about paying attention to our inner state with a beginner’s mind and an open heart.
Our mind is extremely skillful at storing information about how we react to a certain event to form a blueprint of our emotional life (source).Such information often ends up conditioning our mind to react in a certain way as we encounter a similar event in the future. Self-awareness allows us to be conscious of this conditioning and preconceptions of the mind, which can form the foundation of freeing the mind from it.
Self-awareness is the key cornerstone to emotional intelligence. The ability to monitor our emotions and thoughts from moment to moment is key to understanding ourselves better, being at peace with who we are and proactively managing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. In addition, self-awareness allows us to act consciously (rather than react passively), and be in good psychological health and to have a positive outlook on life. self awareness also provides a greater depth of life experience and we are more likely to be more compassionate.
As human beings, we may never fully understand ourselves, if there is such a destination. But perhaps it is the journey of exploring, understanding and becoming ourselves that makes life worth living. Whether you want to be more accepting of yourself or more accepting of others, cultivating self-awareness is a worthy of our attention and understanding.
Peace and Love, Jim