The only constant in my life are: change, and my healthy appetite. All the different iterations of me seem to pine for something wildly different. In some seasons, I wanted to settle down and have children, in some others I want to move to a monastery and forsake the world.
Often, I wonder if I have a gypsy soul or have caught some sort of an ‘adventure bug’ that compels me to chase new experiences ’til the end of the world.
My current adventure bug has metamorphosed into: big hikes and new sports. So, essentially, challenging both my physical and mental limitations.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
My last proud achievement was summiting Black Tusk in Squamish in one day (on a sprained ankle). Looking forward to unlock more mountains!
Self-Awareness has been identified as one of the meta-skills of the future. Meta-skills, as defined by Gustavo Razzetti, are the master skills that activate and magnify your other skills. They are “high-order skills that allow you to engage with functional expertise more effectively. They [are] catalyst[s] for learning and building new skills faster.”
So then, How Self-Aware are You?
Based on the research by many reputable psychologists, we are actually regrettably less self-aware than we’d like to think we are. In fact, our illusion of how self-aware we are, is a hindrance to becoming more self-aware (Eurich).
One of the examples of this illusion is the Dunning-Kruger Effect, whereby one’s limited knowledge of the matter causes them to overestimate their ability and competence in the matter. The reverse is also true: when someone excels at a task, they tend to undermine the complexity of the task and subsequently undermine their ability relative to the ‘average’.
For example: when one first starts learning a new language, their limited understanding of the verb tenses and conjugations may mislead them into thinking that the language is quite simple, subsequently overestimating their ability and the time it will actually take to master the language.
Self-awareness is the same. We often overestimate how much we actually know ourselves. It is mind-boggling to wrap our heads around it, isn’t it? If we don’t even know ourselves, then who does? The reality is, there is a substantial part of our subconscious that we are not privy to, particularly when it pertains to fear, guilt, and our social and biological need to belong. We sometimes arbitrarily justify and glorify the ‘why‘ behind our actions.
Here are some examples:
“I should better do some more work than going to the networking event,” Fear-of-Social-Gathering declares righteously.
“I’ll buy Charlie the Nintendo Switch she’s been asking for,” Guilt justifies after you have been working too much and not spending enough time with your child.
How Do We Get to Know Ourselves Better?
This is probably not a surprise but one of the most effective ways of getting to know ourselves better, is to humbly seek feedback from those who are closest to us. It is optimal to seek feedback from 3-5 stakeholders that have been supportive, honest, and transparent. To help us gain insight into our values, we can ask them questions such as:
“What are some of the principles I operate as the central point of my life?”
“What do you think I invest the most time and money in?”
“What are the top 3 adjectives you would use to describe me?”
“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”
It takes tremendous courage, vulnerability, and humility to hear other people’s perception of your values and principles. I hope their perception is not too far from your internal awareness, and even if it is, I hope that you will have the wisdom to disarm your ego and hear them out.
Thank you for reading! This is only the tip of the iceberg for Self-Awareness. Next up: Self-Awareness Archetypes. Then finally, with enough Self-Awareness, we can talk about Episodic Future Thinking. Stay tuned!
Our experiences that inform our perception of reality and our behaviour are built upon both explicit and implicit memories. Explicit memory, are the ones we can actively recall; whereas implicit memory, are much less articulable. They are our expectations, modes of relationships, emotional proclivities, and outlooks on life. Interestingly, many studies have shown that what shapes our perception of the world, are predominantly unconscious. In other words, in order to effectively and meaningfully rewire our brain for a more positive, optimistic, happier outlook, we need to consciously work on our subconscious.
1. Understand the Negativity Bias of Your Memory
In order to work on your subconscious, it is important to understand this: our memory has an innate, biological preference to not only hold onto, but also intensify, negative memory. Evolutionarily, this bias has been instrumental in keeping us safe, by preventing us from repeating the same mistakes, from traversing back into dangerous, hopeless territory.
The sheer act of recognizing and identifying how your memory gravitates and magnifies negative experiences will allow you to take a deep breathe when you are faced with a less pleasant experience, and to mindfully interrupt the pattern of intuitively cataloguing the negative aspects of this experience as the dominant, default baseline reaction for the future.
2. Actively Seek Out Good News
Besides Negativity Bias, we are also susceptible to two other biases: perceptual bias and response bias. Both of these biases happen when we are motivated to shape our perception to better suit our intents and purposes. To favourably utilize these biases in rewiring your brain, you can actively seek out good news; this will motivate and prime your perceptual and response biases to perceive and translate the received neurological signals positively.
3. Bask Yourself in Good News
Now that you have carefully curated and fostered more positive experiences, the final step is to securely fasten them onto your implicit memory, to your subconscious, so they become the intuitive, default physiological and psychological response for the future.
Since your implicit memory is derived from your emotions and bodily sensations, the key to fortifying and securing your positive experiences to fully immerse yourself in the visceral responses of them.
And there you have it—3 simple steps to a happier life!
Isn’t it humbling and mind-blowing to think that: every time we consciously work on our subconscious, we are literally, synapse by synapse, rewiring our brain?