I spent two weeks searching Twitter for regular people talking about self-awareness, and you know what? Basically everyone talking about self-awareness is selling something.
Does that surprise you? It does and it doesn’t surprise me. It does, because I wondered what other words regular people are using when they talk about being self-aware. But it doesn’t surprise me because no one I know actually talks about self-awareness.
It’s a topic that applies to everyone somehow or another. But we don’t use the official terminology. We talk about self-awareness without using the term. We say things like,
- He’s clueless
- She’s a sensory person, not an intuitive.
- He has no clue what’s going on inside his own head.
- He’s not emotionally intelligent.
- She knows what she wants.
- He knows what he’s about.
- She’s a people pleaser.
These phrases indicate that we are aware of self and self’s effect on other people. We can judge another person as “clueless”, “oblivious”, or “unaware”. But do we really know what the opposite form looks like?
Without getting overly institutional, I’ll provide a definition here: Self-awareness is the presence of mind to observe and then evaluate your own motives, prejudices, feelings, desires, beliefs, and ideas.
A person lacking in self-awareness might rush into decision making without analysis, or avoid resolving conflicts because they don’t know why they said what they said.
We need self-awareness in order to be more than pure instinct. It’s not enough to have a logical conversation about a topic and call it a day. We need to have the “why” and “how” and an “are you sure it’s a good idea” conversations with ourselves.
Checks and balances. It’s how we take what we’ve learned objectively and apply it to our real daily lives.
Self-Awareness Informs Trust
Trust is the most critical factor in social interaction. I have to trust your personal values and decision making enough to cohabit the same space without a kevlar vest. I don’t know you on the inside, so how do I know that I can trust you?
We make assumptions every single day and hang our lives on these assumptions. We trust that our neighbor won’t lose their mind over a trash can that fell over into their yard and start firing their shotgun at the neighboring houses. We trust that the children next door won’t assault ours as soon as they’re together outside. We trust that the policeman won’t attack us or steal from us when we obediently pull our vehicles over to the shoulder.
Self-Awareness is the presence of mind to observe and then evaluate your own motives, prejudices, feelings, desires, beliefs, and ideas. #selfawareness #aselfobservedClick to tweet
Trust is what allows us to share space and resources with others. Without trust, society cannot function. And when you become aware that a person lacks self-awareness, your ability to trust them declines dramatically.
You wouldn’t put your baby in a zoo cage with a gorilla. You wouldn’t put your family’s savings in the hand of a thief. You wouldn’t allow your daughter to go on a date with a criminal. You wouldn’t sign a contract with someone who doesn’t honor their word.
Trust is the foundation of society. The presence of self-awareness is the currency by which we decide to give someone a chance to prove themselves trustworthy.
I have dedicated my life to self-awareness because I watched young men behave like fools to impress young women, and I saw right through their flattery and promises. I wished that the most outgoing and confident among us would also be the most honest and trustworthy. Sadly, that has never proven to be the case.
If you are reading these words, then I pray you will examine your motives, your choices, your responses, and your avoidances, and after investigating the why and cross examining them, determine with all sincerity whether your approach needs to change.