Why are any of us here? For what are we here, on this earth, together? What are we supposed to do here as we wait for our death to inevitably find us?
Well…you must ask yourself “What do I want?”. Answering that question may prove to be more difficult than you first perceive.
To answer the question “What do I want?” in a way that is personal and meaningful to you, honesty is imperative. You must be completely and brutally honest with yourself. Often that brutal and honest answer may reveal some not so pretty insight about who you are at your core. (Unfortunately if this insight proves to actually be not so pretty, then you may not actually realize it due to its ugliness blinding you and clouding your judgement.) That being said you may end up surprising yourself when you find out what you thought you wanted is a surface desire and what you truly want at your core is something you had not fully expected or thought was so important to you.
And thus begins the journey of self. One that leads to deeper self-awareness. A journey that often is hidden to the outside world and to those around you who know and love you in your daily life. This is a journey that begins and ends with you at your core most naked; all things stripped away; total and brutal honesty with yourself; who you truly have become at this point in your life. You must attribute all that has been done/happened to you, and all that you have done to others/yourself. Acknowledgment and acceptance is vital. You must first acknowledge how you reached this pivotal point in your emotional and cognitive development, and you must accept who you meet within and how you feel about that person.
Often we come to this pivotal point by force due to some tragic event in our lives. Sometimes it is brought on by the demise of a close personal relationship or even a near-death experience. However you reach this moment, there are things that must happen in order to break though. Sometimes these things happen as a result of the force, sometimes these things can be purposeful due to feelings of despair.
1. Check Your Motivation
What drives you? Often there are emotions or desires that take you from one place to another; from one relationship to another; from one job to another; from one frame of mind to another. That which drives you may even seem different from one situation to another. Be completely honest with yourself. You may find that on a deeper level your motivation has actually been the same in each situation or relationship. I mean you can only be who you are, right? What is your default mode of operation? Are you driven by an over inflated sense of self? (This is not self-awareness but closer to narcissism.) Or are you driven by an honest desire to promote the well being of others? (This is a form of philanthropy but without the money aspect.) Your motivation should be well defined to you. If you are unsure, keep digging. Ask yourself the hard questions. (What was my role in the demise of “blank” relationship? Why did I truly pursue “blank” desires? ETC.) Analyzing feelings and behaviors of the past is key here in finding your foundational M.O. or mode of operation (your characteristic method for how you approach situations and relationships).
2. Acknowledge your impact on the world around you
Think about all the people that you come into contact with daily. How do you impact their lives? Do you have a positive or negative impact on them? Is your impact on them minor or major? Direct or indirect? Is your impact on someone based on your impact on someone else? In other words, does your influence on one person affect how they impact someone else, even someone that you do not know personally? Where in your life do you have the most influence on people and is that influence positive or negative? What is your primary role in that position? What are the expectations of that role and are you living up to them?
While determining your impact, this is a time to also judge the distance between yourself and others. Again honesty is imperative here. Consider these relationships in your life, and compare the emotional distance between yourself and each person individually. What is your perception of the closeness of the relationship? Now, based on your words and behavior, what is the perception of the other person of the closeness of the relationship. Now ask yourself “How important is it to you that this person view you as a close relationship?”. And so this leads me to the next aspect of the journey.
3. Change your perspective
I always think about video games when I talk about changing perspective of myself. There is a type of game called first person shooter. Call Of Duty or Halo comes to mind where you as the player are looking though the eyes of your character. The screen displays a first person view of the playing field and you see your hands or weapon only. Then there are most fantasy role playing games where you see your character from a third person point of view. You see your entire character in full form as you manipulate his or her movements and direction and can see in almost every direction around your character. These are great examples of how you must learn to view yourself. Often we view our world from first person point of view and the world revolves around us. Stepping out of that view is imperative in order to view and acknowledge our impact. Seeing yourself from a third person point of view allows you to monitor or discover our behavior in a way that we judge or experience the behavior of others. Third person point of view opens up new ways to judge our own behavior as positive or negative. How would you feel about someone behaving in the same manner that you are now witnessing yourself behaving? (This is the first step in developing empathy for others. Empathy is a by-product of self-awareness.)
Changing your perspective offers the ability to triangulate your position in the world around you. Figuratively speaking, of course. Learning and acknowledging that the world does not revolve around you helps to humble oneself to the betterment of the world around you. You are not the beginning or the end of even your small world of influence.
Now, consider the following.
This journey is not about figuring out what others think about you. This journey is not about figuring out how you can make others like you. This journey is about being the best you that you can be. It is about learning to live honestly and being true to who you are at your core. It is also about coming to understand others through finding yourself. It is about deepening and strengthening the relationships that are most important to you. Aren’t we all really just looking for deeper more meaningful connections? Connecting to ourselves on a deeper more meaningful level allows us to better connect to others. Checking our motivation helps us to learn what is really most important to us. Acknowledging our impact helps us to truly find out what kind of person we really are inside. It also helps us to gage our own behavior in relation to others. Changing our perspective helps us to see the world through other’s eyes as well as our own. It also gives us insight on how we relate to the world without our motivation clouding that insight. These three imperatives are not the only thing that needs to happen on our journey to self-awareness. And theses things are not a one time shot. These must happen regularly throughout our our journey of growth and discovery of ourselves and the world in which we live.