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Awakening Inner Wisdom: A Lifetime Journey to Self-Awareness


Self-awareness begins from the newborn's early recognition of separateness and is influenced by every experience after that moment. Fostering self-awareness involves observing emotions, thoughts, and reactions, allowing for growth. While this blog focuses on internal self-awareness, it is important to distinguish between internal and external self-awareness. Internal self-awareness is knowing our thoughts, emotions, and values. External self-awareness is understanding how others perceive us. Both are pillars of personal growth and effective relationships.

Building Blocks of Self-Perception

In their initial stages, newborns lack a sense of self and progress over the years from symbiosis with the mother to adult independence. Early cues to self-perception are external, shaped by caregivers and the environment. Positive experiences like warmth and learning from mistakes contribute to a healthy self-concept. These formative lessons profoundly impact how individuals perceive themselves and navigate experiences throughout life. As children venture into the wider world, interactions with schoolmates, friends, teachers, and others further shape their evolving sense of self.

the journey within

The only journey is the journey within.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Strategies for Fostering Self-Awareness

Fostering self-awareness requires stepping back and observing ourselves within uncomfortable situations in a non-judgemental way. Closely examining attitudes and emotions, noticing thoughts and feelings as they unfold, can shed light on them. What to do in brief is:

  • Observe the variety of emotions you experience.

  • Explore the process behind your decision-making.

  • How your thoughts are impacting emotions and behaviours. 

  • Notice your body's responses to events and emotions.

  • Understand the reasons behind the way we feel. 

  • Scan the range of thoughts and feelings when you feel uncomfortable. 

Refrain from blaming yourself or others for the situation. Instead, focus on improving your responses and fostering personal improvement.

Self-awareness requires the ability to shift attention from what's happening to what's happening inside, focus on inner reactions to improve the perceptions of events and allow a broader perspective. The following can facilitate the process.

becoming who you are

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.

C.G. Jung

Rewriting the Script of Self-Awareness

Working toward self-awareness is a slow, life-long process. Along the journey, defence mechanisms may emerge as resistance to inner change.  Resistance may manifest through negative inner talk, procrastination, sadness, anxiety and acting out.

Defence mechanisms were implemented in the past because, at that time, they were the only way the mind knew to cope with external challenges. However, when old coping methods become obsolete and prevent one from living life fully, it is time to work on them and learn new coping systems. 

Exploring resistance and finding the answers toward the authentic self is vital. Be aware that if there is a history of trauma, this is not a journey one can take on their own.

Nurturing Self-Awareness with Compassion

Self-awareness requires acknowledging thoughts, feelings, and impulses we are not always proud of; admitting and taking them on won't always be easy. 

One of the risks is to become excessively critical toward oneself, and by doing so, feeding guilt or shame can lead to self-consciousness. 

Therefore, paying attention to self-talk is essential in this process. Self-awareness is also about implementing self-compassion, becoming less judgmental toward the self and knowing the self enough to improve one's experience of life. 

Practising self-compassion is the most helpful way to support this process. Before embarking on the journey to self-awareness, it is vital to:

  1. Establish self-care options to use when you feel overwhelmed.

  2. Allow yourself time for the process. Changes take time.

  3. Embrace the contradictory facets of the self.

  4. Strengthen the self-regulation skills to overcome contradictory emotions.

flower field

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.

Nathaniel Branden

Final Thoughts

Self-awareness is a fundamental skill for personal growth. The key is being open-minded, kind to yourself, humble and fully accepting of all the contradictory nuances you will discover. Starting this journey, you can't predict how it'll unfold, yet each step holds the promise of positive transformation and personal development.

When unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it’s time to reach out to someone you trust. You don't have to face everything alone. Contact a helpline, a support group, or a professional. Your GP or a counsellor can make a difference in your wellbeing. 

Subscribe to this website and get 15 minutes of free online consultations. 



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