Being Aware Of Being Aware
Humans have an additional layer of issues in that language and consciousness require another level of awareness to survive and thrive. Shaky finances, verbal abuse, being bullied at school or work, authoritarianism, racism, and a host of other issues are real threats. However, if you step back, many situations that are perceived as threats are actually cognitive distortions. Although the threats are not real, they seem that way and still fire up your nervous system and fight-or-flight response. Since we cannot escape our thoughts, they are particularly damaging because the reaction is sustained, and your body breaks down. It is well-documented that chronic stress causes illness and disease. 1,2
Being Aware of Being Aware
The nail in this coffin is that anxiety and anger are powerful, hard-wired, and unpleasant survival reactions and sensations that are generated when you are in a flight-or-fight response, and hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than your conscious brain. They are necessary, the gift of life, and not subject to rational interventions. We spend much of our lives trying to run from these sensations and take them personally. One outcome is that we generate labels on ourselves and others. Labels, positive or negative, completely block awareness.
It is somewhat mind-boggling, at least to me. But it makes sense. I am not merely the human being I think I am. I am the conscious being observing the human being I thought I was. If only for this instant, I think I have glimpsed what it means to be a conscious, aware being. I am not there yet, I am just starting and have a long ways to go. But I think I am beginning to figure out what being aware of being aware really means, at least to me. And that is all that matters, I suppose.
See in this way that being aware, or awareness itself, accompanies all experience. Being aware or awareness itself is the common element in all experience. Everything we know or are aware of changes, but knowing, or being aware, remains the same throughout all experience.
See that no other element of your experience is continuous. All thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions appear and disappear, but knowing or being aware remains present throughout. It never undergoes any change. The known always changes, but knowing never changes.
But without knowing or being aware there would be no knowledge or experience. As such, knowing, being aware or awareness itself is the most important element of experience. It is that which renders experience knowable, just as the sun, relatively speaking, renders the world visible.
So the first step we take in this approach is to separate out knowing, being aware or awareness itself from the objects of experience, including the objects we call our mind and our body. We are aware of our thoughts; our thoughts are not themselves aware. The body is not aware of experience; we, awareness, are aware of the body.
Nor is it necessary to purify awareness, any more than it is necessary to clean the space in a room. Awareness is always in the same empty, pristine condition. It is on account of the emptiness of awareness that the fullness of experience can arise within it, in just the same way that it is on account of the emptiness of physical space that objects can appear in it.
The experience of being aware is intimately one with all experience and yet utterly free from all experience. If you want to find peace, happiness or freedom in your life, you need look no further than the knowing of your own being.
Being mindful, and becoming more aware of the present moment, means noticing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that you experience, as well as the thoughts, feelings and sensations that occur from one moment to the next.
Part of developing a strong sense of emotional intelligence is being able to discern which emotions that you experience are important to act on and which emotions should be acknowledged and felt and nothing more.
The self-questioning involved in self-awareness can lead to this kind of endless spiral. Layer upon layer upon layer. And, in many cases, not only do deeper levels not elucidate anything useful, but the mere act of peeling them back can generate more anxiety, stress, and self-judgment.
The goal is to take the self-awareness skills you learn from meditation and apply them to your everyday life, being more focused with more clarity and more acceptance of what is going on at any given moment.
Do you want to be happier, have more influence, be a better decision-maker, and be a more effective leader? Self-awareness, then, is the most important muscle you need to develop. It's what will keep you on target to be the best version of yourself and the best leader you can be.
The benefits of self-awareness are as varied as each individual, and examples include increased influence, greater perspective, and stronger relationships. Let's dig into what self-awareness is and ways to develop it.
"Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don't align with your internal standards. If you're highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behavior with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you."
Public self-awareness: Being aware of how we can appear to others. Because of this consciousness, we are more likely to adhere to social norms and behave in ways that are socially acceptable.
While there are benefits to this type of awareness, there is also the danger of tipping into self-consciousness. Those who are especially high in this trait may spend too much time worrying about what others think of them.
For example, you may notice yourself tensing up as you are preparing for an important meeting. Noticing the physical sensations and correctly attributing them to your anxiety about the meeting would be an example of private self-awareness.
The Eurich group has researched the nature of self-awareness. Their research indicates that when we look inward, we can clarify our values, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. We are able to recognize the effect that we have on others. Eurich's research finds that people with self-awareness are happier and have better relationships. They also experience a sense of personal and social control as well as higher job satisfaction.
When we look outward, we understand how people view us. People who are aware of how people see them are more likely to be empathetic to people with different perspectives. Leaders whose self-perception matches others' perceptions are more likely to empower, include, and recognize others.
Lack of self-awareness can be a significant handicap in leadership. A study conducted by Adam D. Galinsky and colleagues at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management found that often, as executives climb the corporate ladder, they become more self-assured and confident. On the downside, they tend to become more self-absorbed and less likely to consider the perspectives of others.
Don't despair if you don't make the 10-15 percent self-awareness cut. If you want to know how self-aware you are, the iNLP Center has 12 multiple-choice questions that will tell you the level of your self-awareness and what you can do to improve it. The assessment is research-based and developed by Mike Bundrant, a neuro-linguistic trainer and life coach.
This kind of introspection allows us to look at behaviors and beliefs for what they are. With self-awareness, we can examine old patterns and stories that do not serve us, and then we can move on. Asking the right questions empowers us to make different choices that bring different results.
Your body's reaction is a tripwire signaling the pre-frontal cortex to register or name a negative emotion. If you bring awareness to your physical state, you can, at the moment, recognize the emotion as it is happening. Becoming skillful at this rewires your brain.
Let's bring this home with an example. You, a self-aware person, are having a conversation with someone and receiving some negative feedback. Your heart starts to race, and you're feeling threatened. You say to yourself, "I feel like this person is attacking me." But, before you cry or go ballistic, you stop yourself and hear the person out. You discover that this person had at least one good point and start up a different conversation, one that is mutually satisfying and productive.
Mindfulness is a practice. It helps you be aware of what's going on in your mind, body, and environment. Meditation is one of a few practices that you can insert into your daily life, and practicing mindfulness is a wonderful tool for developing greater self-control.
Four years ago, my team of researchers and I embarked on a large-scale scientific study of self-awareness. In 10 separate investigations with nearly 5,000 participants, we examined what self-awareness really is, why we need it, and how we can increase it. (We are currently writing up our results for submission to an academic journal.)
For the last 50 years, researchers have used varying definitions of self-awareness. For example, some see it as the ability to monitor our inner world, whereas others label it as a temporary state of self-consciousness. Still others describe it as the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us.
In philosophy of self, self-awareness is the experience of one's own personality or individuality. It is not to be confused with consciousness in the sense of qualia. While consciousness is being aware of one's environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that awareness. Self-awareness is how an individual experiences and understands their own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
In health and medicine, body awareness is a construct that refers to a person's overall ability to direct their focus on various internal sensations accurately. Both proprioception and interoception allow individuals to be consciously aware of multiple sensations. Proprioception allows individuals and patients to focus on sensations in their muscles and joints, posture, and balance, while interoception is used to determine sensations of the internal organs, such as fluctuating heartbeat, respiration, lung pain, or satiety. Over-acute body-awareness, under-acute body-awareness, and distorted body-awareness are symptoms present in a variety of health disorders and conditions, such as obesity, anorexia nervosa, and chronic joint pain. For example, a distorted perception of satiety present in a patient suffering from anorexia nervosa. 041b061a72