There cannot be self-development without self-awareness. The Self is the consciousness that you are who you are. Many writers and philosophers tried to explain what it is. It is a complex concept and I try to elucidate it in few lines but will come back to it in this series about self-development.
We are all unique conscious being
For all of us, it started with few cells that multiplied and specialized to create your body. Then you were born and grew up to develop consciousness. This is true for all human beings. Everyone realizes around 6 or 7 years old that he or she is unique. You are you and the others are themselves. There is no doubt about that.
The interconnected Ego and Self
The Self is the observer. The one that watches the movie of your life without commenting it, without judging it. It is a presence. The part that judges and comments is the Ego. When exploring self-development you end up differentiating the concept of Self and Ego. They are complementary. The Ego pretends to know better, be better and do better but it does not represent “reality” or “facts”. The Ego interprets everything to center the attention on him. The Self knows that he is whole and a fraction of the whole. We are part of the universe and a universe at the same time. We are all connected to each other through our common denominator: the cells and atoms. We are stardust.
Self-development requires that you learn to distinguish your Ego and your Self alone. It is your responsibility to make the effort to become more self-aware which means to focus on the Self and not the Ego. Learning to distance yourself and learn from your Ego compels you to a wholesome, fulfilling and connected life. The Ego will never go away but the Self can learn from it to grow. Some define the Ego as the shadow and the self as the light. One cannot exist without the other.
Business development relates to self-development because businesses are made of humans.
In his book Working with Emotional intelligence Daniel Goleman shows how important it is to develop self-awareness. It helps you overcome obstacles by reconnecting to your Self and disconnecting from the drama created by the Ego. The goal of the following series on self-development is to share with you the tools, learning and resources that I cumulated over the years. I learned and discovered many thing while traveling abroad and exploring inside myself.
The Ego leads with violence while the Self leads with love
I always asked myself: Why am here? Why are people so sad and mean? Why are their wars? why can’t we live in peace together. Over the time it became clear that people driven by their Ego were more inclined to use any kind of violence to obtain what they wanted. Once they acquired it they needed more which led to more violence. If we want a world in peace we need more people following their “Self” and less driven by their ego.
How do we transite from Ego driven to a Self-driven life?
There are two complementary ways to experience life: through the five senses of the body and through the mind. In the western world we focus on the mind and tend to forget that our body allows us to feel and to think. It is easier for us to access the Self thanks to our mind because we learned to read, write, and focus on analysing.
Journal about your daily life
I encourage you to journal in order to become the observer, the self. Writing is the best way to put down your thoughts and to physically distance yourself from them. It also allows you to see of the Ego is speaking of the Self. When things are written down, they occupy less your mind. They are saved on paper which means you can focus on something else.
At the beginning it may be difficult to journal because it is a new habit. You can use the following prompts to help you. When writing do not worry about your grammar or if sentences make sense. You can even start with just 3 words or a drawing.
- What happened today?
- What upset me today?
- What made my day?
- How does my body feel? (relaxed, tensed, fit, ill…)
Listen to your body
Listening to our body may sound weird to some of us but scientists proved with the Placebo effect that the mind has a huge power over the body. If we believe that a drug can heal us we heal. By extension we can extrapolate that our mind can make us ill if we believe we are. Knowing that it seems important to understand the messages of our body to stay healthy.
Our body communicates with us thanks to physical sensations. We identified some of those physical sensation as emotions. Different “emotions” like fear and excitement trigger the same physical reactions which means that our interpretation of the sensation in a specific context makes the emotion. In fact, the body can feel tensed, relaxed, ill, weak, tired, energetic and so on. The question is how do you label your sensations?
People that experience depression, burn out or any kind of “negative” psychological effect did not listen to the warnings of their body. We ignore the anger, the fear, the back pain… We focus on their mind and push the body too far until the break down. Developing self-awareness also comes with learning to listen to the body.
When anger takes hold of me, for example, I feel my heart racing, my cheeks getting hot and my hands sweating. It rarely happens to me, however, when I face injustice to myself or someone else.
So in your journal you can answer the following questions when a strong emotion is going through you.
- What emotions are you feeling? (fear, anger, happiness….)
- Where does the emotion manifest itself in your body? (heart rate, belly, head…)
- How many times do you feel it?
- In what situation do you feel it?
These self-awareness exercises are not easy at first. You’ll need determination. What works for me and could work for you is that I set myself an alarm at a time of day when I know I have time (right after dinner for me). I give myself 15 minutes to write down what happened during the day and the emotions I felt using the questions above.
At first you will need only a certain amount of time between the time something happens and the time you write. Then, with time and practice you will be able to instantly answer his questions which has the power to refocus you on your Self.
Let me know in the comments how those exercices are helping you or ask me any questions. I will gladly answer:
Next time we will explore the origin of our thoughts. Register to the newsletter to get each article.
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