Saturday, October 12, 2013

Self-Awareness + Choice = Happiness

One of the benefits of developing self-awareness is the availability of self-honoring choice.  Self-awareness in and of itself does not guarantee happiness or contentment; however, implementing what you know about yourself just might.  Self-awareness will allow you to choose or make decisions that accurately reflect you, who you are, what you value, what you want.

When we do not know who we are or what we want for ourselves we either avoid making choices altogether or decide what we'll do based on the expectations of others.  Neither of these options typically leads to happiness or contentment.  We end up acting in ways that are best for others - not ourselves.

Of course it is just as possible for us, despite our self-awareness, to make choices that do not reflect our true selves.  We may deny ourselves and our desires for fear of the consequences we believe may be waiting for us: being ridiculed, ignored, shunned, even oppressed.  If we've self-activated (i.e., make choices based on who we really are) and were ever ridiculed, ignored, shunned or oppressed as a result then the consequences we fear aren't simply imagined.  They really happened.  That can certainly make it more difficult for us to take a deep breath and forge ahead with expressing our authentic selves.

Part of the journey, then, is to learn when it is safe to self-activate.  Literally, when.  But also around whom - mostly that.  Even if you pick an inopportune moment to self-activate if you do so around those who appreciate you they'll have your back - or at least won't throw you under the proverbial bus.

I'm fairly certain that the process I went through to reach my current version of being as authentic as I can, is similar to that which I recommend to those who are working with me in my role as a psychologist.  When we find those whom we want to let into our lives, we should do so slowly and with small, less important, parts of who we are.  That way if that part of us is rejected it won't be nearly as painful as if we had expressed larger parts of ourselves.  Each of us alone can decide what are the "big" things and what are the "little" things.  But often our preferences for things like music, food, movies, favorite colors, etc. may be a place to start.  If we reveal our preferences in these areas and are ridiculed or rejected, we can be pretty sure that more important, sacred parts of ourselves may not be treated with respect either.

If, on the other hand, our preferences are accepted for what they are - our preferences - then we can share more important parts of ourselves with that person and see what kind of reception we get.  Still accepted, or something else?

When we express our real selves and not the version of us we think others want to see, we can be more certain that those who accept us truly accept WHO WE ARE rather than some facade we've created.  If on the other hand we've only shown them a gilded version of ourselves then what?  It becomes even more scary to reveal our true selves.  What if they don't like the REAL me?

We make choices nearly every moment of every day.  How often are the choices you make a reflection of who you truly are?  If you are not deciding/acting authentically, do you know why?  Is it that you don't really know who you are?  Or is it because you don't trust those around whom you spend most of your time.

There are only a select few people in my life who really know who I am.  Others don't necessarily get a gilded version of me, but they don't get a truly authentic version of me either.  Why?  Because I know I can't trust them, I don't need them in my life, or I don't know them well enough yet to let them in.

Most of my decisions about what I do and how I act are on purpose.  Not ALL of my decisions, but most!  I'm a happier person because if it.  Happy all the time?  No.  But what I do know is that I decide if I reveal who I really am.  And I decide when not to reveal my true self because I'm protecting myself.  Either way, I'm being true to myself.

Maybe I'm talking in circles at this point (it all makes sense in my head!) but I hope you get the gist of all this which is: develop your self-awareness so that you can consciously and authentically make decisions that are best for you.  You'll be happier for it!

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