Wherever you go, there you are. Jon Kabat-Zinn
There is an old joke about a man, who asks a stranger the way to Edinburgh, to which the stranger replies: “If I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here.” Although none of you have ever asked me for directions, I can tell you that wherever you decide to go, you have to start from where you are. And it helps if you know where you are. Not only know it — but acknowledge it.
This blog is about where you are mentally; it is about self-awareness. Where you are mentally now may not be where you think you are because much of a person’s worldview lies outside of awareness. Self-Awareness is defined as the accurate appraisal and understanding of your abilities and preferences and their implications for your behavior and their impact on others. It’s reality-testing.
Self awareness is important because when you have a better understanding of yourself, you are able to experience yourself as unique and separate individual. You are then empowered to make changes and to build on your areas of strength as well as identify areas where you would like to make improvements.
Since most of us run on auto-pilot, we don’t pause to think about what we are thinking, or why we are thinking what we are thinking, or what effect our thinking has on our doing. Diligent self-awareness involves observation and inquiry; this is the duality of self-awareness. Observing is paying attention to what is going on inside you, and what is happening outside you. Inquiry is asking questions of yourself about what is going on inside you and questions of others to understand yourself better. Because this seems to take too much time and distracts us from doing, it is usually avoided.
Because you are here now and you will be wherever you go, awareness of where you are mentally is important. Being aware of yourself, where you are and why you are there, may be the most important factor in determining how you get to where you are going. I understand that expecting all of us to admit that we need to pay attention to where we are and who we are is unrealistic. After all, self-awareness is one of the hardest things to do. But it is worth the effort.
“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Benjamin Franklin
He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise. Lao-Tsze