Blog 16: Understanding Self-Awareness

What exactly is self-awareness?

• According to Wikipedia, it is “…the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.”

• Famous psychologist, Carl Rogers said: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

• Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of past US President Roosevelt) is often quoted as having said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

• Famous ancient poet Rumi once stated: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

• And famous ancient philosopher Aristotle once said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

How people see themselves has been a topic of discussion for centuries. People see themselves as being very, very good or very, very bad, or at some place in the middle. The common thread of the above quotes is, where do YOU think you are on the scale of very good to very bad? How you see yourself is what self-awareness is all about.

Very few of us see ourselves as perfect the way we are. We don’t accept ourselves as a whole. There is always some part of ourselves that we want to change. Usually this change (or changes) are thought of by comparisons to other people. These thoughts are compounded by advertisements. We are too thin or too fat, don’t have enough muscle, our skin is either too light or too dark, our noses or lips are too thin or to fat, we are not assertive enough, we are too bossy, not sensitive enough or too sensitive about both ourselves and other people. The list goes on and on. Advertisements tell us that we should take this or that to make our bodies perform in different ways. For example: lower sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels, two things that can be lowered by changes in diet and exercise. Yet it is more common to take chemicals that ultimately stress our kidneys and liver. Don’t misunderstand me. Taking chemicals for these purposes is fine on a short-term basis. However, taking these medications for years often cause other damage that is not always irreversible. My mother took these medications for her blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol for years. When she turned 80 years old, a time when she was retired and ready to enjoy her life, first one kidney stopped functioning altogether before the other one malfunctioned. The result was dialysis and multiple trips to the doctors’ offices. With all this stress, her heart began to malfunction. After a treatment to correct her heart she died of a massive stroke.

One doctor told me that my blood pressure was too high and that I absolutely had to start taking medication. Wanting to find out why my blood pressure was too high (the real cause), I refused to take the medication and experimented with myself. Making a long story short, I realized I was not drinking enough water (something I stopped doing when I was wheelchair bound after a couple of surgeries). I had someone take my blood pressure one morning. I drank 64 ounces of water during the day (counted each ounce with a measuring cup). That evening my blood pressure was normal! The standard is to divide your weight in pounds in half. That number is the number of ounces needed by your body to function normally.

Our bodies are connected in many ways. Our minds are not separate from our bodies. While we can accept a diagnosis of what is wrong, we have choices. The first thing we must do is examine ourselves, our lives. Who are we, and why are we who we are? Those are extremely difficult questions to answer. It is vitally important to consider our lives without lying to ourselves or making excuses. There are other people who will always be around to say and do things that we do not like. We cannot control what other people think. But we can learn to control how we respond to the words and actions of others.
I heard a saying once: Holding on to anger and resentment toward someone else is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That is extreme, but it makes a good point. See my Blog on Reframing. It is so involved that I had to make it in two parts.

Who are you? Who are you really? Think of those around you (home, work, church, social friends, neighbors, landlord, mortgage company, your bank and supermarket)—no one lives in a vacuum. We all must deal with other people in our lives—whether we like them or not. We react to how they treat us—whether we express our feelings outwardly or keep our feelings inside they are still there. When you examine who you are, ask yourself how you feel about all aspects of your life, and all those involved.

Try an experiment. Go someplace where you can be alone for just one hour. Sit quietly. One by one, think of the major areas of your life and who or what is involved. As you think of these situations or people, note how your body responds. How are you really feeling? Are you suddenly tense, leary, feel anger or resentment, happy, peaceful, envious or jealous, calm or loving? With no one around to watch you or listen to you, be brutally honest with yourself. If you’re making excuses for someone or some thing, ask yourself why?
Save doing something about how you feel or making any changes in your life for another time. The purpose of this experiment is to find out more about YOU. Who are you—deep inside. Where is the dis-ease in your mind. Find out about the dis-ease in your body before it becomes disease. Remember, the mind and the body are connected. It is important to find out who you are, become aware of your “self” that will make it possible for you to make any needed or wanted changes that will increase your happiness and peace of mind, as well as increase your physical health.

NOTE TO READERS:  My site is being revised to include resources and visuals.