Self-awareness is defined as a “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires”. People have a choice of whether or not they want to be self-aware, and addiction has the ability to take away our self-awareness as well. For example, a 2014 study conducted by researchers in New York found that drug addiction compromised self-awareness, causing people to exhibit drug-biased attention, disregard for negative outcomes, dissociation with the self, and behaving in ways that are socially unacceptable. The study concluded that treatment interventions that facilitate self-awareness building could serve as an effective foundation throughout recovery.
Recovery programs often incorporate activities through individual or group therapy and other methods to help individuals build their self-awareness. These activities may include:
- Making sense of our life story
- Creating a habit of self-reflection
- Establishing a schedule
- Hearing feedback and honest truths from others
- Tuning in to what’s going on in our body
- Accepting responsibility for our actions
These exercises are important because they bring us back to the basics – life, and ourselves within it. The more we can know and understand ourselves and work towards building a better life for ourselves, the higher we increase our threshold for happiness. If you haven’t allowed yourself to be happy lately, note that it’s you who set that bar lower than it should be. You can raise it. You can take steps towards more self-awareness.
Psychology Today argues that developing self-awareness can be painful, especially if we are triggered when we hear truths about ourselves that we didn’t know about before – otherwise known as “blind spots”. If we’re feeling triggered, we need to identify whether it was a relationship trigger, identity trigger, or a truth trigger. From there, we can further explore why our defense mechanisms kicked in to gain a better understanding of ourselves.
The Harvard Business Review states that it’s only with self-awareness that we can achieve self-congruence – described as the point at which what we say, think, and feel are consistent. Reaching this point takes a lifetime, but it’s well worth it. The sooner you can begin taking steps towards this, the better.
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