My favorite definition of the word “self-awareness” is found in the book “The Secret” by Sherry Turkle. It reads: “We are not only aware of our own thoughts, but that of others as well”. In other words, we are highly self-aware and this is something that the majority of us struggle with.
Turkle’s definition is probably closer to what we’d expect. It’s not just awareness of the thoughts of others, but awareness of the thoughts of ourselves as well. The problem is that it can be easily dismissed as the “blame the victim” excuse. You might say, “I’m not that kind of person. I wouldn’t do that.” Well, that’s true, but it’s still something we struggle with.
This is where the self-awareness comes in. We can control our thoughts, but we can’t control our actions. For example, if you want to go to the grocery store, you need to go. You can control your body, but you can’t control your mind. The same thing goes for buying a car, having sex, or any other activity. When we think about these things and we know we are doing them, we can’t help it.
The good news is that we can. And we can decide not to do it. But we can control how much of those thoughts we allow to go through our brains and still get ourselves to the grocery store. It’s a matter of willpower. We can choose to exercise this willpower when we go to the grocery store, but we can also decide to let it slide for the rest of the day. So if we want to eat really well at the grocery store, we can.
We can also choose to eat the food we want in the way we want to eat. That can be a good thing as well. For example, you know how you always eat something with your hand when the food is very hot? Well, I do. I don’t want to eat the spinach that’s way too hot. I want to eat it cold. But the same principle applies to our thoughts. Think of a conversation you had with your mom the other day.
I was talking with my mom about the latest game title and I said “If I can just get my thoughts right, I’ll be able to get through this game.” She said, “You are so clever, how did you know?” I said “It’s very simple. I just know how I feel.
You know what I find fascinating? That we spend so much time trying to think straight and be so “smart” all the time. That just makes it even more difficult to actually be smart which is scary. So if you’re just trying to be smart, do it with other people, not with the computer.
We all have our own ways of being smart. Some of us are good at it, while others are really not so good at it. It depends on what kind of personality you’re looking for in a friend. If you’re looking for someone smart to share your life with, then you’ll likely need to find that person on your own.
While we live in a world of information, we don’t always know what it means. When we are so busy keeping up with our phones and social media accounts that we forget about what real life is about, then it would seem that we have been eating our words. It’s true that we spend our days and nights trying to be smart, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are. If you want to really get to know someone, try making them your friend.
The concept of “being open” is one that has come up a lot in our life, especially with regard to relationships. There is a lot to learn about what it means to be open and authentic, but even more so, there is a lot to learn about how to be a person who accepts others for who they are, rather than trying to change them.