Developing Self Awareness
Developing self awareness is about knowing exactly when emotional turmoil begins within you. It is about becoming sensitive to the obvious symptoms - such as a knot in your stomach, restlessness, or a tightness in your chest.
Conscious awareness of those symptoms will prevent your animal instincts from capturing the viewpoint of your mind. Typically, raw fear can take over, within half a second. The fearful perspective will dig in and be backed by all the resources available to your mind and redirect your thoughts and actions.
Self awareness can stop that knee jerk process in its tracks and bring your common sense back in control - bring you back your peace of mind.
- The development of self awareness has been a historic process.
- Eugene Gendlin suggested that only some people are more adept at developing self awareness.
- Developing self awareness requires the management of attention. Attention has subconscious effects.
- When you observe yourself, your common sense controls your mind.
- Become sensitive to your body. Learn to relax your muscles.
- Understand the causes of stresses within you.
- Identify your primary concerns through a Self Improvement Plan.
- Become aware of the inner pain caused to you by jealousy and envy.
- Become aware of the critical voices within you, which lower your self esteem.
- Become sensitive to the feelings of others.
- Become aware of the patterns, which trigger your anger.
Self Awareness –A Historic Practice
awareness is the key theme in the meditation practiced for centuries
by the Buddhists. They advised “staring back” at your thoughts.
Matthieu Ricard, a respected Buddhist monk said: "One may wonder
what people do in retreats, sitting for eight hours a day. They
familiarize themselves with a new way of dealing with the arising of
you start getting used to recognizing thoughts as they arise, it is
like rapidly spotting someone you know in a crowd. When a powerful
thought or anger arises, you recognize it. That helps you to avoid
being overwhelmed by this thought." Self awareness is a powerful
method of controlling your mind.
Self Awareness –The Difficulty
developing self awareness is not easy for everyone. Eugene
created his “Focusing” therapy to help people to achieve self
awareness. It is a psychotherapeutic routine, which has helped
thousands of people to develop self awareness and to calm their
distressed minds. But, Gendlin noted that only certain clients really
benefited from his therapy. Such people had “higher scores on
intelligence, ego strength, character and self-control, emotional
stability, tender mindedness and introspectiveness." They
repressed less, were less defensive, more self-disclosing and were
willing to attribute difficulties to internal causes.
who instinctively attribute their troubles to external causes may not
benefit from these pages. Their minds reject the possibility of
effective self improvement. But, dear reader, your interest in
reading these pages indicates your suspicion that internal causes may
also be the cause of your emotional problems. You fit into the
category that can be helped. You can develop self
Self Awareness –The Importance Of Attention
awareness depends on the innate ability of your mind to focus its
attention. William James, the father of American psychology, defined
attention as "the taking possession by the mind, in clear and
vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneous objects or
trains of thought. Focalization, concentration of consciousness are
its essence." When you pay attention, you can instantly feel the
touch of cloth on your shoulder, a tightness in your hands, or a
thought as it arises in your mind. Attention is a neuronal
discovered that attention triggers increased neural activity in the
observed circuits within your mind. At the same time, attention
inhibits activity in the immediate surroundings. Maunsell had studied
neural signals in the visual area of the cortex of monkeys, when
viewing a swarm of dots on a computer screen. He was able to
correlate the firing of specific neurons, with recognition of the
movement of specific dots. When the animal focused on just one of the
dots, the directed attention caused the neurons that signaled its
motion to fire more strongly. At the same time, neural signals
related to other dots were attenuated. When you pay attention, you
can highlight your thoughts and and your cortex perceives
Self Awareness –The Observer & The Observed
of years of evolutionary development assembled a triune
your mind. Within it, a rational prefrontal intelligence and lower
level mammalian and reptilian brains constantly develop competing
survival strategies. Typically, the common sense in your prefrontal
regions seeks a rational strategy. Anger searches for a successful
aggressive strategy and fear, for a sound defensive one. If these
searches fail, your feelings of fear, anger, or disappointment become
more intense. Your turmoil increases, when fear or anger
instinctively trigger visceral reactions. But, your common sense sees
failure as merely another event.
prefrontal brain also brings you your conscious awareness. That
awareness can be overwhelmed by your sensation of fear, anger and the
related visceral reactions. But, the same region can direct attention
to isolate and observe your own emotional responses. “I can feel
the fear.” With practice, you learn to observe the impulsive
thoughts arising from lower levels. You learn to sense the visceral
responses of your body. The common sense of your prefrontal regions
is responsible for such self awareness. Since that observing region
is independent of the lower levels, your viewpoint becomes free from
troubling emotions. Self awareness frees you from torture by your
animal instincts. All it needs is a little practice.
Self Awareness –Proprioception And Relaxation
self awareness merely requires systematic observation. But, it takes
a few days. As a first step, use your sensory ability to become aware
of the position of your body with your eyes closed. Proprioception is
the distinct sensory ability, where nerve impulses from the stretch
receptors in your muscles inform your brain of the beginning and end
of each joint movement. Lying in your bed in a dark room, you have
the capacity to become aware of the position of your limbs with your
eyes closed. Sense this feeling. This can be your first step into
become aware of any tightness in your muscles. Consciously tighten
and relax your muscles. Such a practice will enable you to better
control the responses of your body. While lying in bed, practice
tightening and relaxation all the way from the muscles in your toes
to those in your neck and eyes. Within a couple of weeks, you can
learn to relax
Tensed muscles can trigger angry, or fearful thoughts without your
awareness. Relaxing your body is the first step in removing the
chatter of troubling stress messages. It is then easier to pay
attention to the vast inner worlds within your mind.
Self Awareness –The Cause Of Stress
mind works at lightning speed by actively searching for solutions to
the problems faced by you. An animal escapes from danger by finding a
suitable hiding place. It searches its own memories for the nearest
shelter. Animals have hiding places. People are less fortunate. In
the modern world, running away is not an option and problems have no
immediate solutions. There are no instantly available hiding places.
Your mind searches for ways to escape from your problems, or to
remove obstructions. Emotions are triggered, when these internal
searches lead to frustration.
often have an unpleasant quality. Medical texts report that pain is
felt in two waves, separated by an interval of a few tenths of a
second. The first is a sensation of pain, which is sharp and
localized. The second is an emotional drive signal, which patients
report as being a more disagreeable sense of “hurt.” Stimulation
of certain nerve cells in the temporal lobe causes a patient to feel
the awful dread emotion. Emotions are real nerve signals in your
nervous system. Self awareness is the ability to independently
identify emotions as and when they occur.
Self Awareness –Identify Your Primary Concerns
awareness becomes easier, when you categorize the storm of emotions
within you. The Self
Improvment Plan presented
in this website can put you quickly in lucid touch with your most
troubling concerns. This method of self assessment depends on the
capacity of your mind to get swiftly to the essentials, such as when
you prepare a simple shopping list. The procedure will bring to your
notice troubling issues such as the conflicts between career and
you evaluate the list subsequently, RI, your common sense, takes
charge, differentiating the facts from your emotional responses. Self
awareness is the skill of consciously identifying your emotional
outbursts. You gradually become familiar with the viewpoints of the
animal intelligences, which attack you with their warped strategies
for survival. In the process, self awareness isolates your common
sense, and frees it from emotional turmoil.
subsequent steps, the Self Improvement Plan lists the various options
available to you. Reality will then dawn on you that there are no
immediate solutions to quite a few of the problems you face.
Acceptance of such unpleasant facts in life will help still the
emotional storms within. Settling your primary concerns will lead
your attention to uncover the simpler emotions like envy, jealousy,
guilt or irritability, which trouble you. Self awareness is the key
to stilling such emotions, which spoil your calm.
Self Awareness –Envy And Jealousy
most emotions, we experience only a mild sense of discomfort. But,
such emotions like envy
and jealousy trouble
many good natured people. These emotions are not shameful feelings.
They are the responses of the deep wisdom within your mind to
personal failure. Jealousy originates from fear or anger over the
prospect of failure in achieving a desired goal. Career growth, a
partner's love, or a mother's undivided attention are usually the
originates from regret, leading to anger, over one's powerlessness to
get an alluring asset owned by a perceived equal. Self awareness
helps you to notice your discomfort over such events. Identify the
failures in life, which haunt you. Then you can act to prevent
failure in future, or learn to come to terms with it. When such
failure does not trouble you, envy, or jealousy will not trouble you
Self Awareness –Low Self Esteem
people are burdened by persistent internal voices, which tell them
that they are failures. Their low
self esteem may
be caused early in life, by bullying even as they were too timid to
fight back. They may be very successful people, but these early
critical voices persist. For every success story, there are many
ordinary workers. Low self-esteem can punish them with crippling
reminders of being failures.
awareness can recognize these troubling messages. Recognition of such
messages will quiet the harsh voices. Common sense will put their
lives in proper perspective. Overcoming low self-esteem will not work
miracles. It will not convert quiet people into extroverts. But, it
will still turmoil. They will feel comfortable about not being “the
life of the party.” Not burdened by persistent inner criticism,
they can go on to discover and exploit their innate
Developing Self Awareness - Empathy
awareness can improve your capacity to communicate with people. The
human brain has a “mirror
which uses sensory clues to enable a person to experience the
feelings of another person. In experiments with monkeys, researchers
report that specific neurons fire when an animal reaches for a
peanut, pulls a lever, or pushes a door. Iaccomo Rizzolati and
Vittorio Gallasse discovered that neurons in the same regions also
fire, when the monkey watches another monkey perform similar actions.
In humans, neural signals, which signify pain were reported when
watching another person being pricked by a needle. Your mirror
neurons enable empathy by making you experience the feelings of the
people you communicate with.
awareness can strengthen your sensitivity to people, when you pay
attention to sensing their feelings. Insensitivity to this massive
world of information, which is available to you within your own mind,
can weaken all your interactions in life. How do they feel about your
decisions? What are their motivations? Strengthen your capacity to
empathize by being open to the nerve signals, which your brain sends
you, based on its assessments of their objectives and motivations.
Become aware of the feelings of others.
Self Awareness –Controlling Anger
merely a punishing viewpoint. It destroys your peace of mind and
ruins your relationships. Self awareness can change that viewpoint.
Once changed, your mind will not shrink back to its narrow views. The
stressful anger signals originate from the amygdala, an almond sized
organ in your brain. When they are stilled, controls pass to the
common sense of your prefrontal brain. You can't wish your anger
away, because your mind disregards such wishes.
mind will respond intuitively to practical experience. First, your
mind needs to be convinced that anger is a problem and not a
solution. Second, you need to come to terms with the pivotal sources
of your anger, reducing its causes. Third, you need to become aware
of and detect the onset of anger, whenever it raises its head. Your
attention to the telltale signals from your amygdala will gradually
still any remaining anger signals. Each time your common sense wins,
your neural circuits will have put an end to one knee jerk response.
Self awareness can save you from seething against the inevitable
thorns and barbs of life and accept it as it is, with its many
This page was last updated on 31-Dec-2013.
JUST THINK... What happens when you begin to talk? Your nervous system has picked an emotion. It has articulated an idea around it, chosen apt words from a vocabulary of thousands of words, arranged them in lexical and grammatical order and adjusted the pitch of your voice. Before you speak you've no consciousness of the words you will use. Who's actually in charge? This question leads to the question "What is consciousness itself?" Is consciousness a spirit living in a human body? Is it a mystical life form that emerges from the nervous system? This is the hard problem of consciousness.