How To Develop Self Awareness
How do we discover our true self? We start with self awareness. This begins by knowing who we are, what we want, understanding our worldview and living consistently with reality. It is easy to get sidetracked with the belief that we should become someone based on an observation of another. This is called the Pygmalion Effect; when you act in a manner in accordance with motives and expectations of which you have no conscious awareness. For example, when a parent tells a child they are smart, and they should become an attorney. The child believes they should become an attorney and once achieving this status ends up at mid-life wondering what happened. True self has yet to emerge. They realize they’ve been chasing success but what they later realize is they need significance.
What Do I Want From Life?
Before any of us can move to understand the answer to this question we must do the hard work of understanding our past and how it is messing with our current state.
Have I discovered my true self? What do I want for my life? Simple questions right? Wrong. I cannot begin to tell you how many people have expressed their disillusionment to the answer to these questions. Most people live incongruent with their “ideal self.” Many listen to a voice who told them you would make a good, “fail-in-the-blank;” attorney, engineer, architect, doctor… There are just as many who heard a voice who said, “you aren’t very smart, you’re never going to get to college or you’re nothing but a cry baby.” This is the voice of dissent. But many choose to believe this voice.
The problem is made worse when when we fall victim to the Pygmalion Effect and decide they’re right. This action becomes our “ought to.” Parker Palmer in, Let Your Life Speak, says it best:
The figure calling to me all those years was, I believe, what Thomas Merton calls “true self.” This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another form of self distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life and clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self planted in us by the God who made us and God’s own image – the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be. Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, 68, 69
Discover True Self
- What 5-10 things from my family do I most admire? Make me angry?
- What 5-10 things do I most admire from the people I love the most?
- What are the top 5-10 good things that occurred in my past? Bad things?
- What 5-10 things do you learn from your free personality assessment?
- What 5-10 things make you angry? Frustrate you?
When evaluating one’s past, there is a great deal more that can be applied to improved performance. There are a variety of tools and questions I use in my coaching practice. Sooner or later we need to accept our past. We have been hurt by others and we have done our share of hurting. It is our human condition. Accepting our insecurities, conquering our self-talk, confronting unhealthy relationships and developing self awareness are all critical. Consequently, we learn to understand our life story, identify the people in our lives that really matter and have compassion for self.
What Is A Life Plan
In life planning we take the previous work and apply a variety of additional tools. I help people understand their life story, their life line so to speak. The process includes discovery of:
- Personal identity
- Reality: look at the past and present state
- Finding and offering forgiveness
- Core Values
- Visioning the future
- Your story, complete with your greatest dreams
A very popular means of achieving a lfe plan is at my home in Florida. Who doesn’t want to be in warm weather in late fall and winter? We would take 3 days to work through a life plan and you and your spouse would have the use of the home for the balance of one week. While completing the 3 days there would be experiences that would help you develop a 3-5 year vision and plan.
Of course, the bonus is an additional 4 days of fun and sun!