How well do you know yourself?
"Self-awareness is like great sex: everyone thinks they have a ton of it, but in reality, no one knows what the fuck they’re doing"
In the world of self-awareness, there are two types of people - those who think they are self-aware and those who actually are self-aware. The latter is true for most of us. According to studies, 95% of people think they're self-aware but in reality, only 15% are actually self-aware (Kauflin, 2021)
So, are we lying to ourselves?
No one likes to be alone with their thoughts, so we choose to distract ourselves, and soon enough, our distractions often start choosing us. The other night after dinner, I pulled out my phone to look at the time, and the next thing I knew, I was scrolling through Instagram reels. Obviously, I forgot about the time. How often does this happen with you? My guess is 100 times a day or even more. That's because the majority of our thoughts and actions are on autopilot. The problem is we've been on autopilot for so long that we forget we're on autopilot. Being self-aware in this situation means being aware of our distractions. You must be aware of the paths your mind likes to take before you can begin to question why it takes those paths and whether those paths are helping or hurting you.
We all get in those moods where we don't really know what's wrong but everything just seems to irritate us. Yeah, been there, done that. A lot of times we start spinning up a bunch of stories as to why we're feeling the way we're feeling, digging as deep as we can.
I've learned this the hard way but emotions are endless and they don't always necessarily mean anything. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they’re also self-induced.
In the book- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson, compared self-awareness to peeling an onion. He talks about how whatever we're thinking/feeling about, there’s always another layer underneath, and the deeper we go, the more layers we peel off, the more likely we are to spontaneously burst into tears.
Sometimes being able to recognize how we messed up something gives us a sense of self-awareness but that's not the point. Self-awareness is wasted if it does not result in self-acceptance.
Plato said that all evil is rooted in ignorance. If you think of the evilest, and shittiest people imaginable, they are shitty not because they have flaws—but because they are unaware of their flaws.
When we look at it this way, our entire perspective changes. Someone could do the worst thing possible just because they're not aware of themselves. So, would you blame someone like that? Someone who doesn't know what they're doing and why they're doing it. I guess not.
Here comes empathy.
It’s only by accepting the flaws of our own emotions and our own minds that we are able to look at the flaws of others, and rather than judging them, feel compassion for them. Have you ever seen yourself being extra nice to someone who has done the same mistake as you? It's because we can put ourselves in their shoes. We can understand their thought process.
Here’s where that old cliche comes in, about only being able to love others in proportion to how much we love ourselves. Self-awareness opens us up to the opportunity to love and accept ourselves, it gives us a better shot at life.