There are three things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s self.” Benjamin Franklyn
To be or not to be self-aware is the question. For me, the answer is that to be self-aware is one of the best qualities for effective decision making. However, self-awareness is usually on the back burner for most of us. We learn to pay attention mechanically and passively most of the time; we run on autopilot,
The goal of my years of writing called “The Process of Illumination, Looking At The Way We See Things”, has been self-awareness, which is the result of self-examination and self-reflection. Self-reflection requires a conscious choice because it doesn’t happen automatically.
This blog is encouraging you to make a conscious choice to become a self-aware observer. It will be very hard for two reasons. First, seeing the way you see things is still influenced by your subjectivity. And some of this subjective influence is unconscious and outside of awareness. A problem often encountered with self-reflection is the power of self-deception; you usually won’t become aware of what you don’t want to become aware of.
Second, you almost never see the way you do things, which is the way others interpret the way you see things. In her 2001 book, Blind Spots, Madeleine Van Hecke says you and I are like the car driver who is oblivious to the car that is within our mirror blind spot, and others are like the person standing on the corner who can see the other car clearly. Apparently others can see what we don’t see about us — better than we can. Therefore you and I need feedback from others.
A problem often associated with feedback is that the kind of feedback that would be most helpful, of course, is feedback that is knowledgeable, honest, and thoughtful. This is not an easy mix to find. However, here again we often reject or ignore feedback if it is unpalatable. If something is disagreeable to the mind we don’t want to see it, hear it, or believe it. My suggested self-awareness strategy: Look inside and listen to others.
How do you rate yourself as a self-aware observer employing both self-reflection and feedback from others?
He who knows others is learned. He who knows himself is wise. Lao Tzu