The Whys and Hows of Self-Awareness

Mindful Monday – April 23, 2018

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ― Pema Chödrön

We have a blind spot when it comes to ourselves. In order to protect our own egos, we distort the truth. We justify our actions even when they are not aligned with our values. We are often not even aware that we do this.

It is usually easy to see when someone else is doing wrong, or not doing enough. It can be hard when the relationship is a parent-child relationship, or a codependent relationship, because our egos are tangled up in the success of the other person. We may end up making excuses for them the same way we would ourselves. But for the most part, it is easier to hold others accountable than it is to hold ourselves accountable.

Developing self-awareness will greatly improve our relationships with ourselves and everyone around us. If we know the weight and contents of our own emotional baggage, we will be able to recognize when someone else is unzipping it. If we know our triggers and their roots in our past, we may be able to step back and take everyday conflicts less personally. And if we let others in about what triggers us, we deepen trust.

Developing self-awareness will improve our quality of life. When our actions are aligned with our beliefs, we feel at peace with ourselves and our circumstances. We can continue to work on and improve ourselves, deepening the meaning of our lives.

Developing self-awareness non-judgmentally allows for more self-acceptance. If we can laugh at our shortcomings, if we can recognize that other people have just as many faults, we can go easier on ourselves. Our self-esteem may increase, which will in turn increase our willingness to be self-aware.

That’s all well and good, but how do we increase self-awareness?

  • Observe your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and body sensations. Check in with these frequently throughout the day. Write them down if it helps.
  • Notice patterns in your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and body sensations. Is there a particular time of day when you feel more stressed? Are there certain thoughts that seem to come up time and time again? Does your neck get tight when you feel stressed?
  • Identify situations, words, phrases, ideas that trigger you.
  • You may want to think about why your triggers trigger you, how they are rooted in your past.
  • Ask for feedback from family and friends.
  • If your family and friends are critical, abusive, or unhelpful, seek feedback from a therapist.
  • Really listen to the feedback you are given. Assume it is accurate, knowing our perceptions of ourselves are inaccurate or incomplete.
  • Remember that nothing is black and white, right and wrong. This is another reason why others’ perceptions of you are probably correct.
  • Notice your reactions to feedback. Acknowledge when your defenses come up, and don’t let them come up all the way; stand on your tiptoes and peek over them if you must.
  • Practice humility. Get really honest with yourself. Know that even though self-awareness is scary, it is the way to enlightenment.


Have a mindful Monday,


Published by rebeccaogle

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