What Others Say About the Importance of Developing Self-Awareness!

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

To find yourself, think for yourself. – Socrates

Increasing awareness is the aim of all human life. – Ken Wilbur

By becoming self-aware, you gain ownership of reality; in becoming real, you become the master of both inner and outer life. – Deepak Chopra

In the long run, digging for truth has always proved not only more interesting but more profitable than digging for gold. – George Harrison

Self-awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions. Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies. – Stephen Covey

No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

To contact the deeper truth of who we are, we must engage in some activity or practice that questions what we assume to be true about ourselves. – A. H. Almaas

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. – Marcel Proust

And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? – Rumi

All of us have to seek in our own way to make our own selves more noble and to realize our own true worth. – Albert Schweitzer

Delve within; within is the fountain of good, and it is always ready to bubble up, if you always delve. – Marcus Aurelius

Getting in touch with your true self must be your first priority. – Tom Hopkins

He who knows others is learned; He who knows himself is wise. – Lao Tzu

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. – Buddha

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. – Lao Tzu

Knowing who you are, rather than trying to be someone else, is essential to fulfilling your purpose. – Eileen Flanagan

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom – Aristotle

My true relationship is with myself – all others are simply mirrors of it. – Shakti Gawain

Not till we are completely lost or turned around do we begin to find ourselves. – Henry David Thoreau

Once I know who I’m not, then I’ll know who I am. – Alanis Morissette

One of the basic laws of human existence is: find yourself, know yourself, and be yourself. – Norman Vincent Peale

The guru is in you. – Yogani

The hardest battle you’re ever going to fight is the battle to be just you. – Leo Buscaglia

The more conscious you become, the more aware you become of how unconscious you’ve been. – Patricia Sun

To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are. – Bruce Lee

To know one-self is enlightenment. – Lao Tzu

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung

Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others. – Buddha

You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David that you are sculpting is you. And you do it with your thoughts. – Joe Vitale

You cannot tread the Path before you become the Path yourself. – Zen saying

This above all, to thine own self be true. – William Shakespeare

More on Increasing Your Self-Awareness

Building from my last blog, to dive a bit deeper into ways to increase your own self-awareness, I’d like to offer some tips on a few key aspects that worked for me in my own journey of awakening and that I have used to successfully coach clients to wake up – along with key insights from others who also have been on the same journey throughout time.

Contemplation, Observation & Study

Often the first and easiest step comes when you realize where you are, who you have become, what work you are doing, and/or how your relationship(s) aren’t offering you satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment or meaning any longer. You sense internal restlessness. Something about your life is tugging, rubbing, and not feeling right. You may have all your material needs met and more, yet with all your worldly successes, you do not seem as happy as you thought you would be by now or do not feel as fulfilled as you earlier had hoped. Maybe you feel stuck, afraid, or lost. You may find that you are questioning your sanity, because everything is going just as planned, yet something is missing.

Contemplation, observation and study allow you to take stock of where you are, to begin to address any uneasiness you are experiencing. You look at your career, your relationships, and your life. Be more open to honest reflection. Maybe you buy a book or begin reading the ones others have been reading and recommending. You may attend personal or professional growth seminars to obtain new knowledge. You may have deeper discussions with friends, spouses, siblings, or parents. You begin to ask a lot of questions and continue looking for answers, and slowly your awareness expands. This phase may seem to go in cycles where new information comes in waves and you are overwhelmed with information. You start and stop and repeat the cycle, possibly many times, maybe for the rest of your life, because it is an integral part of any intention to expand your self-awareness. Journaling here is very helpful, for it allows you to deepen the conversation you are having with yourself, and allows you to note progress along your path. I recommend you get more comfortable with yourself in the self.

Assessing Limiting Beliefs

I think the most important aspect of “waking-up” is to take a hard, deep, real, honest look at your entire belief system. As I stated in my book Wake Up, Get Real, Be Happy-Becoming Your Authentic Self . . .

“Beliefs drive our lives. Many beliefs are instilled while we are growing up. We have beliefs about life in general that allow us to experience safety, efficiency, and predictability. We have beliefs about people, society, and organizations. Some beliefs affect the way we see situations, ideas, and information. Most of the time, we do not realize that our beliefs drive our day-to-day activities and thoughts, but they always are there. The automatic tapes are running constantly in the back of our minds. Beliefs are the stories that run in the background of our minds. What are your old stories telling you, and how accurately do they match your current understanding of the world and your place in it? Listen to how negative your initial thoughts or reactions are, and see which belief may have triggered it.

“Some beliefs are limiting or negative-based. These beliefs limit our ability to succeed. They might be conscious or subconscious, true or false, and we typically have a few that do all the damage. They act like brakes on our ability to progress through life. Although we make progress, they can pull us back at any moment. We may base our entire lives on these beliefs. They were made while we were young or without the faculties, experience, and facts necessary to interpret events realistically. They are at the core of self-image, decision-making, and motivation systems, and they carry forward into adulthood. Past beliefs are not always true, yet they often have strangleholds on us unless we can be objective about them. Our challenge is to see that limiting beliefs are not the truth. We have an opportunity to consciously choose our truth, and then we can lead our lives with awareness, personal power, and authenticity. We can lead the lives we choose to lead, and let the old imposter be no more.“

Getting out of the vicious cycle of limiting beliefs requires us to do the following:

  1. Identify the beliefs.
  2. Eliminate them, consciously and continuously.
  3. Replace them with beliefs that allow us to be and do anything we desire.

“It can be a lifelong battle, but it is one that we can win! We have to challenge them consciously whenever they show up. We must reject any thoughts of limitations, and replacing them with a positive stream of thinking starves them and forces them to wither and die. Self-help guru Jim Rohn says, ‘You cannot take a mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate the weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you need to decimate.’”

The following topics are addressed more in my book and can offer initial guidance into these very important topics that expand and deepen one’s self-awareness:

Personal Assessments

Understanding the Ego & Assessing Fear Patterns



Intimacy, Vulnerability & Shame Work

If any of these topics resonate more with you, take that as a sign and follow it, do some research, use the internet to connect with others working within that area and open yourself up to new insights.

Other programs exist that also enhance your journey inward, and we will be talking more about these over time:

Emotional Healing

Releasing Attachments

Group Work

Physical Practices

Many are also tapping into experts who can offer personal coaching in this prime area of awakening to your authentic self. You may want to consider hiring a coach –  someone who you really resonate with, who has expertise in this area, and who can offer you a process that your intuition can lean in to and trust. Many are finding that by hiring a coach they speed up their personal development, and find beneficial short-cuts that may have taken years to discover on their own. The first 15 years of my awakening journey were primarily solo, mainly because I didn’t know about coaching, and because I was protecting my own fears and insecurities about others finding out about what I was doing. I have hired numerous coaches, each having some specific specialty that I felt I needed at the time, and I am so much better for it. I hope you too will consider adding a coach to your toolkit for your own awakening!

So much to cover, so little space in this blog, yet my hope is to trigger something within you that will help you awaken more, be open more to self-reflection and self-assessment, and ultimately to self-realization!

I found this quote very helpful:

“What got me here won’t get me there!”


Increasing Your Self-Awareness: Meditation & Mindfulness

Building on the last blog, I want to offer you some tips on ways to improve, increase and expand your self-awareness. As you develop and deepen your own practice of self-awareness, your level of consciousness will grow, and allow you to experience more joy and purpose beyond your daily tasks and responsibilities. Expanded self-awareness frees you from repetitive painful, negative thoughts and feelings, and in doing so opens you up to become so much more than who you have been.

The list below reflects what I have personally utilized to help me and my clients in some way achieve more meaningful and life-affirming levels of personal perception. While briefly noted here, each topic offers its own journey of exploration, reflection, healing realizations, releasing of old patterns, and allows space for new ways of thinking and being to take positive hold. In this blog I will expand on the first two. The others we will take up in future posts.

  1. Meditation

Meditation helps quiet the mind, reduces the voices in your head, and helps one be present and open for anything that may come to mind. Meditation comes to us primarily from Eastern philosophers and religions. Meditation is a natural process of withdrawing attention from external conditions and directing it inward to a chosen focus of concentration. It can be practiced in various ways, but

typically, people have a certain meditative practice that they follow regularly. Do this for at least

thirty days before evaluating the results. When you acquire proficiency in meditation, you may wish to

extend the sessions by sitting longer in a conscious, calm state until you feel peaceful and fulfilled. The key is to take the peace and good feelings from your meditation into your daily life. Cultivate cheerfulness and optimism. Be emotionally stable.

The primary purpose of meditation practice is to elicit clear states of consciousness and to facilitate progressive, authentic, personal and spiritual growth. The following basic procedure is easy to learn and practice:

  1. Meditate once or twice every day.
  2. Sit upright in a comfortable chair. It is all right to sit cross-legged if this is convenient. Hold the head up and direct your attention to the front and higher regions of the brain.
  3. Inhale and exhale once or twice to relax. Remain still for a few moments until you feel centered. Be aware of your natural breathing rhythm.
  4. When inhalation occurs naturally, some people choose to speak mentally a chosen word, such as God, peace, joy, or any pleasant word or mantra that resonates. When exhalation occurs, again mentally, speak the word. Feel that the sound of the chosen word is blossoming in your mind or your field of awareness. Do this without effort and without anxiety about results.
  5. When a state of conscious, calm awareness is experienced, discontinue listening to the word. Be still, letting the meditative calm persist for several minutes until you feel inclined to conclude the practice session.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article showing academic research citing the benefits of meditation, which are: builds resilience; increases emotional intelligence; enhances creativity, improves relationships; increases focus. All of these contribute to being a more effective, conscious leader. Other beneficial side-benefits of regular meditation practice have been widely reported in a variety of secular news magazines and newspapers. These can include stress reduction, strengthening of the body’s immune system, better organized thought processes, improved powers of concentration, enhanced powers of memory, refinement and enlivening of the nervous system, awakening of regenerative energies, slowing of biologic aging processes, development of the capacities of the brain to process perceptions and states of consciousness, and orderly functioning of the body’s organs, glands, and systems.

  1. Mindfulness & Presence

Mindfulness = Presence = Awareness.

Mindfulness, or being mindful, is being aware of your present moment. You are not judging, reflecting, or thinking. You are simply observing the moment in which you find yourself.

Mindfulness involves bringing our awareness back from the past or the future into the present. By residing in the present moment, we can see the inner and outer aspects of reality. While reflecting, we can see that the mind is continually chattering with commentary, judgments, and random thoughts. By noticing that the mind is continually active, we can observe those thoughts, seeing them for what they are without aversion or judgment. Be aware of the voices in your head and the conditioned thought processes that run 24-7-365.

The past is past, and the future has not occurred, so all we have is the present moment. Life is a series of present moments, and in each moment, we can choose to give ourselves the present of presence. When we practice mindfulness, we realize that “thoughts are just thoughts.” We are free to release a thought by letting it go. We realize that the thought may not be based in reality, be an absolute truth, or be one that we agree with. We are free to observe life without being caught in the commentary and mind chatter. We may hear the voices or messages speaking to us within our mind. It is important to be aware that the messages we hear during “thinking” may not be accurate or helpful but may be translations of, or departures from, someone else’s truth.

The easiest way to become mindful is to pay attention to your breath. If you can come back to your breath, you will be drawn immediately into the present. Moments are like breaths. Each breath is replaced by the next breath. You are there with no other purpose than being awake and aware of that moment. If you become aware of your breath and let go of all other thoughts, you know that it comes and goes. Compare your moments and breaths to the waves in the ocean. They come and disappear and

are followed by another and another and another. They come; they disappear.

Mindfulness can be done anytime. It does not require sitting or any special process. It is done by bringing the mind to focus on what is happening in the present moment while noticing the mind’s “commentary.” Mindfulness is becoming aware of the sensations in your body, the sounds around you, or the presence of others close by. You can be mindful of your mind’s chatter. Once you notice your thoughts, you can choose to stop identifying with them and their judgments and perceptions. You can choose to think another thought, and if that one does not serve you, choose again. Any activity done mindfully is a form of meditation, and mindfulness is possible all the time. Become the observer of your thoughts and feelings. It is like stepping outside yourself and turning your attention back around to see your thoughts and feelings without reaction or criticism. When you observe yourself having a thought, you are in the present moment.

We are not our thoughts. Thoughts by themselves are not good or bad; it’s how we label them. Thoughts can take us away from the here and now. If we are hanging onto past thoughts or worrying about the future, we are a prisoner of our thoughts. Our power will always be in the here and now. We cannot go back and fix a past result, and we cannot leap into the future. When present and mindful, we can choose to look at our past thoughts differently. We may choose to change the way we anticipate the future by changing our thoughts about it now. We have the power, not our thoughts, and the only we can exercise our power is in this present moment.

These are other modalities to tap into to boost self-awareness:

  1. Assessing Limiting Beliefs
  2. Understanding the Ego & Assessing Fear Patterns
  3. Contemplation & Observation
  4. Study
  5. Emotional Healing
  6. Gratitude
  7. Forgiveness
  8. Releasing Attachments
  9. Coaching
  10. Group Work
  11. Assessments
  12. Physical Practices
  13. Vulnerability

This list is a great beginning to the journey of a lifetime, to you reconnecting with your Authentic Self. We will continue to explore these pathways and others and I welcome your input, experiences and insights.

For more information check out Chapters 3, 4 & 11 in my book Wake Up, Get Real, Be Happy – Becoming Your Authentic Self, or email me!

Personal Perception – The First Step to Becoming an Authentic Leader

The first of twelve facets in being an authentic leader is developing your Personal Perception, or self-awareness. Many thought leaders conclude that the cornerstone of becoming a better leader is having the open-mindedness to self-reflect, self-assess, and to open oneself up to new information, ideas, concepts, processes and viewpoints that may alter the way one thinks and lives. From Peter Drucker to Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith and John Maxwell, and more recently from Daniel Pink, Seth Godin, Simon Sinek and Daniel Goleman, the consensus is that being open to honest self-assessment, and increasing one’s self-awareness quotient is preeminent to growing as a human being and developing our leadership capacities.

Self-awareness is having a clear perception of your make-up as a human being. This includes being cognizant of and knowing your values, passions, strengths, weaknesses, as well as being aware of your thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. Self-awareness is having the open-mindedness to better understand how people perceive you, and being aware of your attitude and your responses to them moment to moment. Self-awareness is a healthy combination of being cognizant of what is going on inside and outside yourself.

When we are not self-aware the focus of our thoughts and behaviors is driven by our own conditioned, repetitive, reflexive, thoughts and behaviors. Our own ‘self’ is the center of the universe, and our selfish, self-centered, narcissistic mindset is focused inward to our own survival, protection, advancement or gratification. Sleep-walking, ‘unconsciousness’, ego-centrism, insensitivity, delusion, indifference, defensiveness, being controlling, bullying, and being grandiose are ways to describe us when we are not self-aware.

So let’s take a look at what it means to be “self-aware.” People who have more self-awareness have processes to:

– Be reflective. They have ways to quiet their minds, to simply think for themselves. They take time to take in situations, things, experiences, people and to let a bigger perspective make itself known. They are able to look honestly at their own and others performance, see what works and honor that, and be open to change where needed.

– Inquire within. They take time to allow inner insights, wisdom, questions, and ideas to naturally form. They play with those thoughts without judging or dismissing them. They ask themselves what do they think and feel, and allow space and time for the new to make itself seen.

– Assess themselves honestly. They are open to taking stock objectively of their strengths and weaknesses. They willingly utilize assessment tools and evaluations like Strengthfinder 2.0, Birkman, 16 PF, Myers Briggs, Spiral Dynamics, EQi, and others to learn more about their natural aptitudes. They are typically life-long learners, and seek to improve and grow by opening themselves up to new concepts.

– Tap into their intuition. Whether you call it your inner feeling, gut instinct, conscience or inner voice, self-aware people more easily access this source, and have learned to listen to it and act upon it. This goes along with quieting the mind-chatter long enough to ‘hear’ from within. These people often can step ‘outside-the-box’ and make choices others are too afraid to make.

– Have higher levels of what’s termed “emotional Intelligence.” Intra-personal and inter-personal skills such as self-regard, self-responsibility, empathy, compassion and accountability are more prevalent in self-aware people, and they use these skills to build healthier and lasting relationships. Higher EQ leads to increased trust, communication, collaboration and higher performance, and luckily for us, can be developed if one chooses to put in the effort.

– Live in state of self-reference. Rather than follow others, these people know their core values, live their root passions, and have a clear, compelling purpose to their life, their work and their relationships. They have developed their own unique authenticity, and courageously go about their days bringing this highest and best Self to every encounter.

– Become self-actualized.  The benefits of self-awareness are best stated by the man who coined the term ‘self-actualization’ – Abraham Maslow, “What a man can be, he must be.” We may call this need self-actualization. It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. People here experience humility and harmony, and seek to help others with their own development.

– Achieve self-realization.  The act of achieving the full development of your abilities and talents, realizing the fulfillment of the possibilities of one’s character or personality is a rare state of awareness. Success is replaced with significance, and work is looked at as an avocation rather than a job or career path.

– Experience unity-consciousness. While rare, some reach a state where they get a heightened sense of being connected to everything, and that level of awareness helps them see the connection of everything at the expense of nothing.

As you look at the above aspects of self-awareness, do your own assessment of where you are. Ego will often jump in quickly and give ourselves much more credit than when we do a deeper dive into what real, what’s true within ourselves. This is not a time for self-diminishment, judging, shaming or blaming. Self-aware people get to be so because they do less tearing themselves down and more looking for the truth and seeing the gap between where they really are and where their higher self would like them to be. Self-aware people are so because they have worked at it a long time, and know that life is about this type of journey rather than some end game.

We will continue to explore self-awareness in future blogs. For now just sit with yourself, see where you are, and decide where you’d like to improve, grow and advance. Begin to see how expanding your personal perception will benefit you and those in your life!