Self awareness – switch flip vs long march

A lot of the discussion around self awareness alludes to the idea of “becoming” self aware – as if you flip a switch or turn a corner one day and voilà! you have reached self awareness point.

My experience with self awareness is that it is just a really long march. You don’t become self aware one day. Instead, you become more self aware – ideally every day. And, over time, you learn what to do with that knowledge.

A big part of this process is gradually embracing your own quirks and developing your own library of tell-tale signals. For instance, I caught myself talking way more than usual (I generally speak up a fair bit – so you can imagine what this was like) at a group meeting. In my case, that’s a tell-tale sign that I was out of sync with myself. I was just reacting to discomfort.

Similarly, I realized another meeting was going nowhere recently as I just felt I’d hit a point of exhaustion. Instead of ploughing on, I decided to call it a day and work on it early next morning. I’d seen that movie many times and knew this would result in a better ending.

I think of all of this as a long drawn collection of experiments. You observe yourself, figure out the patterns, guess the causes, observe some more, try and attack the causes and, over time, understand why you behave the way you do in a particular situation. The beauty about this understanding is that, over time, you can bring most behaviors down to a few root causes (typically deep-rooted insecurities). And, once you understand those, you then figure out ways to work with the root causes and, hopefully, get to a more accepting, productive and happier place.

I can see why the switch flip idea sounds better/more easier. This is hard work. But, this is definitely one of the cases where the juice is worth the squeeze.

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