Self Awareness is like a drunken one night stand: At the time you think you are a rock star, throwing out orgasms like it's your full time job. In reality we look like f*cking Starfish struggling to stay upright.
Self Awareness is a hot topic these days. We are bombarded with promises of 'Attaining Self Awareness' from wellness retreats, lifestyle brands, entrepreneurs & influencers. Join this retreat and in 7 days you will emerge self aware for only $2999! Bargain.
Self Awareness is not something that we can just buy and have for the rest of our lives. We need to work at it every single day becoming slightly more self aware as we learn & grow. But can we ever be truly 100% Self Aware? I don't think so.
We are human after all, being imperfect is in our nature. So instead of going into this blog with the knowledge that theses 4 stages will make you miraculously Self Aware. Go in with the Mindset that these stages will help you understand yourself & guide you towards self awareness.
You practice and work on these stages everyday. Start by mastering the first stage & then move forward as & when you are confident to do so.
Stage 001 - Know What you are doing & Why you are Doing it.
Have you had a sh*t day? Or a sh*t week? Welcome to life, its not what you see in the movies is it? It is also nothing like what you expected when you were a child. Blissfully unaware of how much sadness and disappointment is involved in living with some form of awareness.
Have you ever looked at a dog and thought to yourself - "I wish I was a dog. They never seem worried about anything." Punch line! It's because dogs don't have self awareness. Dog's just wake up, eat, play, sh*t & repeat because they just act on their instincts & regular habits.
The greatest asset to humanity is also our greatest burden: We are all in some way aware of our existence. Being aware means knowing when we are happy, excited & inspired. It also means being aware of when we are sad, angry & scared.
To avoid facing our sadness, frustration & fear we look toward distractions that will increase our temporary happiness. Here are some examples:
Problem: Have a dream but you know it will take a lot of work to achieve.
Solution: Find excuses & procrastinate by scrolling Facebook.
Problem: Girlfriend issues.
Solution: Watch Sports with the Lads.
Problem: Boyfriend doesn't understand your feelings.
Solution: Get the girls together & moan about it over red wine & dinner.
Problem: Scared to admit you might be gay.
Solution: Sleep with everyone you possibly can of the opposite gender until your thoughts disappear.
Distraction is fine. We all get distracted from life's problems at times and a small amount of distraction is actually healthy for you. The key is to first know what we are distracting ourselves from & why we are doing it.
Question your actions. Don't Judge them, just understand why you are doing them.
Your first stage in your journey to self awareness is to know what your are doing and then understand why you are distracting yourself from confronting the resulting emotions. Let me share an example from my own experience.
I used to avoid talking to random girls while I was in a relationship. As soon as I got into a conversation that I deemed engaging I would quickly find an excuse to leave. I had to go to work or I was late to meet my girlfriend, were a couple of common excuses.
I would tell myself afterwards that I was doing the right thing because I had a girlfriend and by ignoring other girls I was being loyal. This was of course a distraction from the truth.
I now know the real reason: I was insecure in my relationship and I new that with enough temptation I would cheat on my girlfriend. Sure enough some months later I did. I now understand that I could have easily avoided this situation by knowing what I was distracting myself from & asking myself: 'Jacques, why are you doing this?'
Every time you find yourself distracted you need to ask: 'What am I doing this for?' Once you understand what task/decision the distraction is covering up you then need to understand why. Know what are you doing & why you are doing it.
Stage 002 - Understand the Needs that Drive your Actions, Reactions & Emotions.
You wake up and life is great, everything is going to plan. You had great sex with your partner last night & she made breakfast & coffee this morning. With a child on the way life could not be better at home. You check your watch but there is no need, you are running well on time for work.
Your suit looks great and your colleagues comment on how good you look today. Your boss waves you in the office and you walk out with a promotion. Life could not get any better! Then something crazy happens, the market crash hits & your company loses big time.
4pm rolls around and your CEO addresses your entire staff. You will not have a job tomorrow and finding a new job will be almost impossible with the current economy. What will your wife think? You distract yourself by going to the bar and one whiskey turns into twelve.
You turn the key and the wheels roll forward, a screech, an explosion & the sound of sirens. Now your child will grow up without her father & your wife will never truly recover from the loss of her husband.
What drives your actions, reactions & emotions?
Understanding the basic human needs that drive your every action, reaction & emotion is the next stage in becoming self aware. You already understand what you are doing & why your are doing it. But it is your needs that drive the what's & the why's.
Whatever decision you make - building a business, starting a family, buying a rolex, hiring an escort or quitting your job to travel the world - whatever you think your passion is, there are six basic human needs that drive all of our decisions.
The same applies to our distractions - your why's are driven by your needs. If you are distracting yourself because of, fear, sadness or shame you are doing so to ultimately fulfill one of your needs.
Tony Robbins - renowned speaker, life coach and author first introduced his concept of the 6 basic human needs during a famous TED talks in 2006. The needs are as follows;
These first four are our basic personality needs & we all find ways to meet these.
1 - The Need for Certainty/Comfort: The need for basic comfort, structure, avoidance of pain/stress & it can be used to create pleasure. The higher your need for certainty the less risk you are willing to take.
2 - The need for Uncertainty/Variety: in a lot of ways the opposite to Certainty. A need for uncertainty will drive risk taking & increase the desire to face problems and solve them.
3 - Significance: Every single person needs to feel significant in one way or another. Some people do it by covering themselves in tattoos or piercings, others do it by becoming filthy rich and throwing there money at mansions & sports cars.
Significance can be achieved in two distinct ways; through building or through demolishing. Builders are the innovators, entrepreneurs, motivators, athletes & explorers. The opposite is to destroy everything around you - the school bully, the workplace moaner, the dictator, the mass murderer or the terrorist.
4 - Love & Connection: We all need to feel some form of love & connection. Love makes us feel alive but a loss of love gives us a sense of emptiness and despair.
The last two needs Tony describes as being needs of the spirit. These needs are rare & not everyone meets them.
5 - Growth: It doesn't matter how many friends you have, how much money you earn, how many people you have sex with or how many millions of people love you. Without continous growth you will not experience true satisfaction.
6 - Contribution: When you get exciting news the first thing you do is call someone and tell them. Sharing is strongly linked to satisfaction & the best kind of sharing is to contribute something that is your own in a way that positively impacts the world.
Money and power can fulfill most of the six needs but there is a reason why some of the wealthiest men & woman on earth are sad to the core. They do not contribute in a meaningful way which means they do not properly meet their needs for contribution or significance.
Contribution & significance are directly related to legacy. After we die it is our legacy that we leave behind so you better leave the most positive legacy you can.
As you start becoming more self aware you will begin to understand ways that you can meet these last two needs. Growth & Contribution are often the needs that return the most reward. If you can constantly meet these two needs everyday you will notice a significant rise in your happiness and overall satisfaction with life.
The moment you become aware of your needs & how they drive what/why you do the things you do is the moment you can truly begin to alter your path in life. We are all driven in different ways by these six needs.
Some of these needs drive power our bad habits/decisions resulting in negative actions, reactions or emotions. Become aware of your needs & alter how you fulfill them.
Understand the Needs that Drive your Actions, Reactions & Emotions.
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Stage 003 - Peeling Onions Makes Me Cry! Find Your True Feelings In Onions?
Ever peeled and chopped onions before and cried your little eyes raw? And thought to yourself, 'F*ck this I am never peeling onions again!' Well bad news folks, self awareness can only be found by peeling back your own emotional layers to find out what you truly feel.
The vast majority of us hold back our emotions and true feelings for years and sometimes decades - I certainly did. So as I started to truly discover myself something weird started happening. I got sad a sh*t load and cried more than I ever have in my life.
This stage is a rough one guys - I won't sugar coat it - but to truly become aware of yourself you need to dive deep and find out what really makes you tick. The key though is to not go to deep so that you end up in a repetitive spiral of grief.
Once you get to a stage were you are just becoming frustrated with your frustrations it's best to call it. Here is an example that I used for myself just the other day:
Emotional Onion Layer One - I am aware that I lie to people in order to fulfill my own need for significance.
Emotional Onion Layer Two - I am aware that I try to fulfill my need for significance through bullsh*t because I am insecure with my life's achievements so far. Why though I have done amazing things in my life?
Emotional Onion Layer Three - I am aware of my own insecurities now but understand that they are stupid because I have lived an amazing life by anyone's standards. Wait why am I comparing my accomplishments to other peoples standards?
Emotional Onion Layer Four - Aha!! My bullsh*t is driven by my Ego! Which in turn drives my insecurities. I am now aware that the only standards I should compare myself to is my own set of beliefs.
This is where I cut the onion and served up dinner - aka I stopped digging because I had found out what was driving my feelings of insecurity. If I were to keep digging it might look something like this:
Emotional Onion Layer Five - So hold on if the only standard I compare myself to is my own beliefs then what standards do I compare my beliefs to?
Emotional Onion Layer Six - I am now aware that my beliefs need their own set of beliefs to be compared to but then does that mean that those beliefs should come from someone else?
Emotional Onion Layer Seven - No because then those beliefs are being driven by ego... F*CK!
As soon as your layers start becoming repetitive or going nowhere STOP. Realise that sh*t just piles on top of more sh*t & you have gone as deep as you need to go.
Stage 004 - Know your weaknesses! Tell Everyone! Then Accept it.
As you begin to understand the core of who you are as a human being something will become very apparent - You Suck! You suck at a lot of things but don't worry because so do I and so does every single person on Earth.
We are all hopelessly flawed and that's OK because weakness and failure is all part of being human. Weakness & failure are incredibly hard to admit and most of us will keep our own weaknesses a secret until we die. Why?
Expose your weaknesses - Why keep your weaknesses a secret and burn precious mental energy by keeping them hidden from the world. Tell people how you are weak and how you have failed. Once you expose your weaknesses self acceptance becomes much easier.
Don't talk sh*t - Don't be so opinionated about the things you have no idea about. Presume that the people you are having a conversation with know a thing or two. If you don't know something be honest about it, don't lie.
Don't take yourself to serious - Ever heard the saying - 'don't take yourself to seriously otherwise you won't get out alive?' Most of your actions, reactions & emotions are meaningless in the grand scheme of life. So stop giving so much of a sh*t about the small stuff.
Take Responsibility for your failings - Stop being so damn entitled! If something is not going right in your life then take some f*cking responsibility. The problems you encounter in your life are directly related to an action you have taken previously. Own it then fix it.
It is important to be realistic, becoming self aware will not fix all your weaknesses. Everyone has their own set of failings and you are no different. Be aware of them, accept them & work toward improving yourself each day.
Know your weaknesses! Tell Everyone! Then Accept it.
See Also - I have no Purpose.
Richie McCaw took the All Blacks from great to 'The Greatest of All Time' during his time as captain. He was an incredibly gifted leader on and off the field, humble, honest & effective. How does that saying go again? Leaders are born not made... Bullsh*t!
Richie McCaw may have had a natural talent as a leader but he also worked hard every single day to get his team to where they wanted to be. If you want to be great at anything in life then you need to work hard and practice every single day.
Making captain of the All Blacks is an incredible feat in itself and indicates that you have reached the pinnacle of your game. Is that when you can stop and relax? Hell no! To stay at the top you need to put in the work day in & day out.
Becoming self aware is no different. Self awareness is something you need to work on everyday for as long as you are alive. Being self aware does not mean you will suddenly stop making any mistakes.
You will however become aware of the mistakes you are making, understand why you are making them & be able to make profound changes in your behaviours in order to prevent the same mistake occurring a second time.
The end goal of Self Awareness is complete and total Self Acceptance. Some of you will read this blog and attain your own level of self awareness but your great take away will be - 'I'm a piece of Sh*t.'
Removing all your layers and exposing who you truly are can reveal some really ugly truths. It is important to realise that you are human, your flaws are your own to work on not dwell upon. Once you are aware of all your failings accept them and grow to understand your incredible assets as well.
Great Self Awareness needs to result in complete and unwavering Self Acceptance.
Thanks for reading.
Paulo and I truly hope that our blogs make a positive difference in your life. We would love to have you in our community so make sure you Subscribe & let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.
Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques