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Building Self-Awareness


Would you like to see some changes in your life? You can begin making these changes by building self-awareness.

The Bahá’í Writings have a lot to say about the importance of knowing oneself:

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter igno¬rance of his self.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 156).

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abase¬ment, wealth or poverty.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 34-35).
What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is a self-conscious state where you’re focused on yourself and your well being.

It’s often said, “We cannot change what we will not see.” Self-awareness is the process of acknowledging not only our strengths, but our weaknesses as well. Becoming self-aware entails listening to your body and feelings and taking action based on what you hear.

Bahá’u’lláh, in the Hidden Words (Arabic 31), tells us to:  “Bring thyself to account each day” – so this is the best time to check in.  If you’re in tune with your body, you’ll know when to say no to that extra piece of cake or say no to staying up late, because those things lead to abasement. You’ll become more in tune with your body the more often you respect it. Self-awareness is a process. The more we do it, the better we become at it.

How do you become self-aware?

These tips will help you in your journey to self-awareness:

1. Reflect on who you are and who you’d like to become. While it’s important to notice your faults and weaknesses, it’s equally important to acknowledge your strengths. Bahá’u’lláh tells us to bring ourselves to account – and bookkeepers who do accounting, always look at both income and expenses; profit and losses – but so many times those from Judeo-Christian backgrounds, just look at the things we didn’t do well.  When we only dwell on the negatives, we are continuing to abase ourselves, and we’re not being truthful.

The better we understand ourselves, the better we’ll be able to accept ourselves as we are or change the things we’d like to be different. Self-awareness requires us to be honest with ourselves and have the courage to change the things we can.

• A full recognition of yourself gives you the opportunity to become the self-fulfilled person you’re destined to be.

Looking deep within your soul, you’ll find the many character traits that make you unique. Begin by acknowledging the positive things. This will strengthen and encourage you to face the less favorable character traits without abandoning your new venture.

On the other hand, when evaluating your strengths, don’t let your ego get the best of you. If you magnify either your strengths or your weaknesses, you can’t possibly get a realistic picture of yourself.

• Until you examine the truth of who you are, you cannot move into the person you can become.

2. Pay attention to your likes and dislikes, what makes you happy and unhappy. Far too often, people make life-changing choices without acknowledging deeply rooted personal preferences.

• Before you embark on goals for your future, have a full awareness of the things you especially enjoy and those you prefer not to have in your life.

The best tool for this is to call yourself to account each day:

Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 31)

And recognize what’s good for you:

The first Taraz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.  (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 34)

3. Face your inner self. During your self-awareness process, think about your motivations, dreams, fears and stressors. Think about why you feel the way you do, then begin to work toward overcoming these inner battles.

“Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting”.

I love this quote!  For years following my abuse, I was so resistant to looking inside.  I’d lived through it once when I was a child, and again in therapy.  I knew there was a lot more stuff to clean out and I wanted no part of it.  But where I wasn’t willing to “turn my sight unto myself” to find more memories, I could “turn my sight unto myself” to find God!  That was a whole lot better than finding more abuse, with all its attendant negative emotions!

When I went there, it’s amazing what was released . . . all the neutral and positive memories!  A flood of them!  They came back all at once, and it helped me to see that as awful as my childhood was, there was something I could build on:  my relationship with God.   And I am grateful!

4. Ask your loved ones’ opinions. The Bahá’í Writings tell us to consult in all things.  Talk to people who know you best and really listen to what they see as your dominant character traits and motivations. Ask them to be completely honest with you and be prepared to hear their opinions.

For further assistance in this complex matter of self and its attributes you may find it helpful to consult Bahá’ís who have been trained in psychology and psychiatry (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer 14 August 1977)

• You may not be your own best judge of character. Accept the way your loved ones see you as part of this process. Consider their opinions along with your own analysis in order to see the full picture of who you are

Self-awareness is a necessary part of self-esteem and change. If you want to grow as an individual, begin with a complete and honest picture of who you are now. This total awareness will start your journey to becoming the best you can be.

What have you done to become more self-aware?  Post your comments here: