Yea yea yea we know the old cliches “Clothes make a man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. – Mark Twain” and “Naked I come and naked will I depart. – Bible” but today we are not here to debate what you should wear or where you came from.
Before we dive into “the art of being naked” how often have you ever gone stark naked? I mean! Apart from the thrilling feeling you get from stripping off your work clothes and swaying on the sofa or bed in time to binge your favorite show. On a more serious note, I will like to invite you to try this, if you have never consciously stripped yourself for assessment. I’m referring to Self-awareness, dummy) haha! Bring your mind all the way home.
Self-awareness according to Google, means ‘conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.’ On this very rare occasion, I agree with Uncle G. It is true that when you achieve some level of self-awareness, then you achieve some degree of freedom. In turn, reaching a complete self-awareness, means attaining absolute freedom. Haha, I do not believe in such a thing as absolute freedom so be careful when you think that is the goal in the process of discovering yourself.
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson compared self-awareness to peeling an onion, that whatever you’re thinking/feeling, there’s always another layer underneath, and the deeper you go, the more layers you peel back, the more likely you are to spontaneously burst into tears. The self-questioning involved in self-awareness can lead to this kind of endless spiral. Layer upon layer upon layer. And, in many cases, not only do deeper levels not elucidate anything useful, but the mere act of peeling them back can generate more anxiety, stress, and self-judgment.
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” – Pema Chödrön
Without insulting your intelligence on the understanding of this quote, I will like us to analyse it together starting with the words/phrases in bold;
- Fundamental Aggression/Harm: Aggression is defined as “any sequence of behavior, the goal response to which is the injury of the person toward whom it is directed.” Aggression can take a variety of forms, including physical and psychological. When you take the time to get to know your self, your personality, your core values, your body, your likes and dislikes your triggers and so forth, it keeps you away from self aggressive and harmful behaviors. Let’s take knowing your personality as a case study. You suffer from low self-esteem but you really do not know because you have not taken time to examine why you react ( emotionally or physically) to situations in certain ways. You then enter the dating phase of your life and suffer from one terrible heart break to the next or find your self in toxic relationships. You do not know how to break away from these destructive patterns because you project your inadequacy on your partner while simultaneously causing harm to your self. Our inability to look inward and learn ourselves can lead to damaging consequences. Knowledge of self, helps you work through your problems making you and the world a much better place.
- Ignorant: The word preceding ignorant, clearly says ‘remain’, indicating a choice and decision made. It’s a conscious effort to either take an action or remain in the same position of self-unawareness. We choose to put in the work to understand ourselves better. Reading a book, trying out a new hobby, taking up a skill…all need some level of dedication and hard work. Heck! even putting yourself out there to understanding others which by the way, Carl Jung said that “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” still requires us taking an action.
- Courage: Now while taking a trip to self-awareness arena, it’s an axiom that you need to buckle up and brace yourself. Facing the hard truth about yourself in it’s nudity can be very shocking. We all like to believe we are so woke that we end up not digging below the surface. Like Tennessee Williams rightly said, “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.” Hey, I am clearly not saying you should take your own life but we all know that acceptance is the first step to growing or healing. Realizing you are not all that and a bag of potato chips is a hard truth to come to and only then will your ignorance be alleviated and journey to self-discovery start.
- Respect: How many times have you lost an ample amount of self-respect because you constantly yearned for the approval of others? No, take your time and answer that question. I’ll wait…! What if I told you that the moment you come to the knowledge of who you are(aka self-discovery), what your values are, what your stance in life is and/or what purpose you are driven towards, only then would you suddenly develop a strong sense of self-worth and quite frankly don’t need the approval of others anymore. Think on that and stop making a fool of yourself in a desperate effort to be loved and approved by others who only treat you with just the same level of esteem you reflect of yourself. SMH!
- Honestly/Gently: While evaluating yourself and trying to find out what makes you YOU, try not to be too hard on yourself. But be sure to ask yourself the hard questions. Questions like ‘How do I really feel about the shit happening in my life?, How do I honestly feel about the relationships in my life? Do I really like hanging out with Susan or I just tolerate her? Why am I unhappy that nobody complimented my new pink shoes today? Well…I bet you $34.70, you will not like the answers. You’ll start to realize things like, “Oh fuck, I’m really sensitive and that am sad a lot, and holy smokes, I never allowed myself to feel that because I thought it made me weak or pathetic, but actually my sadness is part of what makes me different. We ever so follow societal norms and strive to live up to politically correctness that at no point are we allowed to express our emotions and reactions to what’s going on around us.
I do not claim to be fully aware of myself and frankly don’t care to attain absolute self-awareness, neither am I telling you that you aren’t full of shit excuses as to why you lack self-awareness at age 26.
Here is a quick interview I did on self-awareness. They each had 24 hours to get me their answers to the following questions, translating to ‘enough time to think.’
- What does “self-awareness” mean to you?
- Tell a short story about the realization that you weren’t so self-aware.
My name is Maria Vovchok and I’m 27yo.
1. For me self-awareness means to feel my soul inside of me, to understand it’s intentions and bring them to reality. It also means to realize that there is a deeper level behind my thoughts. When they are understood, there is a sense of inner peace. I really started to feel this more clearly after reading “The power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I strongly believe that curiosity will eventually bring me there. The more I search for it and ask questions, the more I discover who Maria is. I have also reached a level of self-awareness where I’m more open to different views. Whether it conflicts with mine or not while still being true to my own beliefs.
2. There is quite frankly no elaborate story to tell behind my self-awareness. My self-awareness, happened gradually and I’m still trying to figure it out. To figure out the balance between my destiny and my fate and the path I create. In retrospect, the people I met always left some sort of impact in my life. I moved to Kiev, Ukraine 6 years ago and have met lots of people who taught me a lot about who I am and there is no particular story that stands out.
My name is Ian Adley and I’m 30yo
Self awareness is honestly not something I consciously contemplate everyday – at least not that I’m aware of! But in reality, it plays a huge part in everyday communication, behavior and routines when you think about it. Looking inwards, I’d say my values and beliefs are pretty grounded – such as respecting and understanding people’s views (although I might not agree with them 100%), helping others, not lying or cheating etc. I think my family and social circles since childhood were key to this. As for life goals and ambitions, these are not so clear. As creatures of habit, I probably fall straight into the category of those who just get used to the daily routine. This is, of course, not bad as such, although I do think one day, I might wake up (probably in my late 30s) and feel that after two decades of work, I haven’t achieved much. So I’m already thinking how to avoid this and what I can give back. I also think I attach too much importance on how people perceive me – although I don’t think it changes me that much. After all, if you have a solid foundation of values and beliefs and are generally an optimist, not pessimist, I think other people will center towards you anyway….but perhaps that’s too optimistic!
My name is Peter Bann and I’m 25yo
Hmm, self-awareness. I usually don’t think of this so much and just assumed I’m fully aware of who I am. To keep this short, I will say that for me, it means being conscious of who I am at any given point in time. That sounds a bit vague I know. Over the years, my values and beliefs have evolved so much that I try not to say firmly, this is who I am because that might change in x number of years. That is also not to say, I don’t have core values like family. I like to be in the now and consciously insert myself in a situation so as to enjoy every moment of it. Another thing to note, which I noticed about me is that I am not easily influenced by others. It took me a long time to get to this point but it is true that I can be among people with different outlooks in life and not be the least tempted to give in what I believe to be right.
A story that comes to mind, happened in high school although it took more than 3 years after that to grasp the lesson. I believed myself to be incredibly shy as a young boy and would often not speak up on issues that still bothers my mind today. Due to this, I got bullied a lot, shied away from people and all that. One day, I witnessed another boy get beaten up by the regular school bullies and something in me snapped. At that moment, I asked myself if this is truly how I will lead the rest of my life. Long story short, I screamed at the bullies so loud that, they fled. Now I know that it is not exactly a captivating story but it did something to me. I didn’t feel invincible anymore and went on not giving a care about what the other kids thought of me. Even ended up having the courage to ask a girl out. Hahaha!
You might be able to relate to these responses or have a completely different perspective. Either way is fine as long as you don’t claim to have absolute self-consciousness, hence denying yourself the thrill of the discovery process who you are.
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