Life is impermanent, and nothing remains the same.
The universe is in a constant state of flux. Everything changes. To grasp these facts wholeheartedly is enough to know why is self-awareness important in our life.
Our emotions often change without our permission. Emotions are the backbone of our relationships and without the right relationships, there is no good life. Self-awareness is the knowledge of the inner landscape of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Self-knowledge helps us to make the right decisions. Self-awareness enhances the quality of our lives, and that is why it is important.
What is self-awareness?
Before moving further. I feel it is imperative to define self-awareness. Self-awareness is the experience of one’s own identity. But I want to go a little deeper with this superficial definition As you can see, it comprises of two separate words: Self and Awareness. Self is the self as in my, me and I, or you can say it’s your identity. One can define self only with awareness, and awareness is the knowledge by which one knows anything.
Now, the funny part is that if you attempt to define the Self apart from awareness, you will fail because the self is not separate from awareness. Awareness is self and self is awareness inseparably. But many of us feel the self is a separate entity having the quality of awareness which comes and goes like thoughts and feelings.
We believe self comprises of mind which has many parts such as thoughts, emotions, feelings, beliefs, ideas, perception and sensations and mind is a part of the body. Most of us consider awareness to be the part of the mind only and believe the body is something separate from awareness.
But a little unbiased self-reflection will tell you it is not the case. You can undoubtedly know the mind and body simultaneously to be a single entity. You as awareness can know mind and body both.
To summarize, Self-awareness is a redundant term, as self and awareness both are the same. Self can appear as awareness and awareness can appear as self there is no difference between the two. Either you define self or you define awareness, you will reach the same conclusion.
What are the types of self-awareness?
Experience of ‘self’ and ‘awareness’ as separate entities will force our intelligence to categorize, evaluate and discuss it. Assuming we are aware of our body and mind to be separate from awareness, self-awareness is categorized into two types:
- Non-integrated Self-awareness- Non-integrated self-awareness is the conceptual self-awareness, and it emerges as an experience of self as a concept, image, beliefs or feelings. This is our normal day-to-day awareness where we deal and interact with others with our unique identities. This includes what we think about ourselves, our judgements, opinions, concepts and ideas about ourselves. Our rational conclusions based on our experience make it easier for us to put self-awareness in words.
- Integrated Self-awareness- Integrated Self-awareness is hard to define but can only be experienced. It is the embodied self-awareness which is all-inclusive and allows us to register internal and external responses alike. It is like when you feel as an extended part of your hand. You can feel your hand, and yet you are aware that it’s not something separate from your torso or toe. When you experience this self-awareness, it stops your racing mind and you cannot define yourself in words, but you can very well experience it.
Consequences of not being self-aware and why is self-awareness important in our life.
Self-awareness is a very important life-skill. Living without being self-aware can affect all the major areas of life: personal development, relationships and career success.
Life is impermanent, and change is the only permanent thing in life. If we do not develop an integrated sense of self-awareness, we will suffer accordingly. Lack of self-awareness manifests in our lives in various ways and here are the common examples.
- Feeling stuck in a monotonous job which you dislike
- Doing things just to please others and not doing what you love.
- Insecure or abusive relationships, emotional traumas and lack of mutual understanding.
- Indulging in addictive and self-destructive behaviour and having no clue how to get out of the rut.
- Living in financial debt and struggling hand to mouth.
- Drifting through life without knowing what to do.
If you are in any of the above situations, you are probably living your life on autopilot mode. Lack of self-awareness has manifested this situation. Unfortunately, you cannot learn the skill of Self-awareness overnight. It is a lifestyle skill which demands continuous effort. Learning to keep quiet and do not react requires effort and practice. When we integrate our self-awareness with undergoing experience a transformation takes place which gives space to accommodate that experience in our awareness.
Self-awareness and Emotional Quotient(EQ).
Our ability to
- Perceive emotions
- Use emotions
- Understand emotions and
- Manage emotions
Is our emotional quotient (EQ). Higher the EQ more likely we can handle our relationships, enjoy good physical and mental health and perform better at the job. Unfortunately, for many of us, our past experiences determine our current emotional states and we create emotional patterns and grooves and get stuck in them. Self-awareness helps us to understand emotions without being caught in a useless emotional pattern, and we can live freely with no emotional baggage.
How do you develop self-awareness?
As children, we learnt many things from our parents, teachers and friends but nobody taught us how to be self-aware. The reason is, actually, there is no need, you already were self-aware and still are. Actually, the self has grown out of awareness. Can you remember that experience when you first saw your reflection in the mirror and acknowledged the separate self? That was the beginning of awareness, recognizing itself as the self. Over time, this self appeared to accumulate experience and gain knowledge and strengthened its separate identity.
Self-awareness is a natural state of being for all of us. You cannot do anything to develop it because it’s already there. But you can remove the barrier, which makes you feel it is not there. And this is paradoxical and hence requires some effort. Mindfulness is one such skill which develops self-awareness. It is the most rational approach with no religious baggage and it works.
Step By Step Process: How to be mindful and Self-aware
- Choose a comfortable quiet place, preferably a separate room
- Sit comfortably in lotus posture or normal cross-legged position. You can sit in a chair as well.
- Keep your back straight and neck aligned and relax your body.
- Do deep inhalation and exhalation for the count of 10.
- Just relax and breathe normally from the diaphragm
- Observe your breath going in and out your nostrils do not force breathing, breathe naturally.
- You will find after a few observations your mind will lose track of breathing and occupied with other thoughts.
- The moment you realize that you have lost track, that moment is self-awareness
- Gently bring attention back to the breath
- Repeat as many times as possible to bring back your attention to the breath.
With consistent practice, you observe that your self-awareness is growing and you can observe and catch previously undetected thoughts and emotions.
Conclusion: Why is self-awareness important in our life?
Self-awareness is a skill which is very important in our life as it helps us to stay centered and balanced in ever-changing events of life. Self-awareness gives us clarity and raises our emotional intelligence to understand our emotions and thoughts of life. Self-awareness empowers us to live a meaningful life in face of all odds and challenges.
image resource: www.canva.com