“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
One thing is certain: each person has his or her own views, thoughts, and emotions. Even though we are so different, we experience similar patterns of self-analysis which make up who we are today. These patterns are typically created by the end result of our behaviors and viewed either negatively or favorably by our strongest critic, the almighty self. It’s amazing how our growth is determined by how the self translates our actions.
Self-awareness is the ability to formulate a summary of our behavior based on past and current thoughts and emotions. It allows us to understand what’s going on in our heads and why. Self-victimization, on the other hand, prevents us from accepting that we’re responsible for it, and for what we do as a result.
Being self-aware is the ability to see our true selves without blinders. This is the first step in being true to one’s self. It requires empathy, patience, strength, humility, and love. One of the hardest things to do is see one’s self as fallible, but that is what we are. We all make mistakes and we all have our triumphs. The great ones are capable of seeing both extremes in oneself and learning how to merge them together to make them a better individual.
As humans we generally spend our life living within the two hemispheres or poles of self-thought. On one side, we play out our lives as victims due to painful events in our past and learn to feel powerless when confronting obstacles. These thoughts are considered indications of victimization behavior, and may look different for each individual:
- Justifying events and ways in which you were wronged
- Complaining about a difficult event in life without looking at the role you played in the circumstance
- Obsessing about sad events to justify negative behaviors and feelings of anger, sadness, and shame
- Vocalizing and telling sad stories to gain approval and avoid potential judgment
- Taking the stance that others need to change for things to improve
In the other hemisphere dwell our thoughts of empowerment, which require self-awareness. The following are indications that you are practicing self-empowerment:
- Consciously allowing your self to let go of thoughts of victimization
- Taking responsibility for your role in difficult events from the past
- Responding proactively in the future based on your education and experience of past events
- Establishing emotional competence and development instead of relying on others to fill this void
- Taking full responsibility and course of action for your decisions
- Taking the stance that change will only happen when we work on our internal and external self
The fundamental difference between self-awareness and self-victimization pertains to our acknowledgment that we have been hurt. Self-awareness is about observing our response to what happened; self-victimization is about feeding into the story of what happened.
Tips to Achieve Self-Awareness
- Strive for emotional awareness—understand what you are feeling and what is being triggered within so you can appropriately assess what is occurring and how to respond in an effective way/space that voids previously negative responses and patterns.
- Recognize negative and damaging thoughts/cognitions so you can censor them.
- Recognize your behavior tendencies and possible patterns to make appropriate adjustments prior to negative actions and/or outbursts.
- Come to terms and learn about your expectations, beliefs, and assumptions which affect the path and actions you choose.
- Regardless of past events and patterns, accept responsibility for your actions and the role you played in the outcome.
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