Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Road to Self-Awareness; How Well do You Really Know Yourself?

When you show yourself to the world and display your talents you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. You cannot spend your life worrying about petty feelings of others…….” Robert Greene 

In the midst of the entire social clamour that is facing most people today it becomes pertinent to ask some questions “Are you aware of yourself? What is your self-identity? Do you know who you really are? Looking at what is happening today I have come to believe that people who are brave enough to really dig deep and express their true self-awareness they get frowned upon.  In the world where probably everyone is seeking either to identify with something or someone, whether it is celebrities, lifestyle, brands of cars, fashion I mean name it all. People are busy running after that deal or contract, that relationship they feel that will actually determine who they become or what car they drive. For instance, look at the social media nothing trends, like some socialite either posting their nude photos, or actually sentiments that most people think they are far-fetched.

For instance, who remembers the tragedy that befell the famous Mirfat of Tujuane. In my opinion I seriously think everyone deserves a right to claim to be who they want to be without retaliation. However, judging from the reactions of the masses it seems a crime not to appease the egoistic expectations of those purporting to be the neigh Sayers (those who define opinion). After all we live in a crowd sourced identity society where the individual has no place of self-awareness but rather most likely agrees or identifies herself or himself with a particular group, tribe, race, social class or family name.

I wonder how many people would out rightly reply without patronizing anyone when simply asked, Who are you? Or what do you stand for? Matt (an executive with a Silicon Valley Company) unconsciously would engage in thoughts about his weekly frustrations at his company whenever he was on his way home alone. This would cause a lot of unexplained stress that led to monstrous headaches that threatened to burst his eardrums. It was until he became aware of the problems at work that he wasn't dealing with and started acting on them that the headaches ceased. This repeated itself whenever there was an issue disturbing him at work that he was not dealing with as expected.

Whereas this provides a typical example of how not to manage stress it reflects a bigger problem: Self-awareness. It is true that self-awareness- or lack- of it affects your career, health, relationships, emotions and success. Whilst some people might actually node and think they know themselves quite well, chances are when it comes to what really matters they don’t.

This was unveiled by Henry David Thoreau, in the 1800s. In search of what life was really about on this planet he disappeared and lived alone in a cabin in the woods, for two years, two months, and two days. This great desire to become self-aware revealed the most brilliant insight of all times on the human condition, he stated, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

For sure, as far as your deepest feelings are concerned -the things that you so desperately want and fear –remain obscured in your subconscious. Therefore, the harder your mind has to work with dealing with your self-denial (things you are not willing to come to terms with). And such continued trend results in undue stress and worry, not to mention the life’s failures and bad business decisions you’ll eventually come to regret.
It is for this reasons that Self-awareness is significant. Remarkably, the way and need to become self-aware hasn’t really changed over the centuries. Surprisingly it is easy to understand, though it is far more difficult for some to achieve than others. In order to become self-aware one would probably need to understand or clearly identify the following.

1.      Know your ENVIRONMENT- you should be aware about where you live, work, hang-out most of the time or kind of people you surround yourself with. This will enable you to identify the resources, circumstances, or ideologies that underpin those you associate with.-Your Network determines your Net-worth.

2.      Know your PURPOSE- although it might take a while (a couple of years) or an extremely rational act like that of Henry David Thoreau or a conscious act like that of Matt. You need to understand who you are or your purpose or why something is happening. Therefore it is pertinent to understand yourself so that you make prudent decisions based on who you are, what you stand for, where you want to be.

3.      Know where to FOCUS (what you want): Knowing what you want to be, to achieve, or live for is a sure way to become self-aware. The people who have earlier identified what they wanted to be or do with their time have gone to achieve incredible things in life. For instance look at Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs just to mention a few. The moment they came to the realization of what they wanted they worked day and night dedicating their time to what they wanted to achieve. Hence, they became more self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses and focusing their efforts to achieving their vision.

4.      Know when to ESCAPE: Last but not least know when to escape. It is prudent to know when to stop and re-assess your progress, or when to break away from the crowd in order not to lose your self-identity. It is dangerous to stay a minute longer in a ‘group mind’, relationship or work place more than what is necessary. By escaping you give yourself a chance to work on your self-awareness. That way you are able to build your own brand.

Lastly, just know that as soon as you begin to deal with issues in real time instead of postponing over and over, the sooner your stress-and monstrous headaches- will vanquish and your life will get a lot more tolerable. And for sure this is something you will have to do on your own. 

©William Murithi 2014

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