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What If Self-Awareness Was Not the Cure to All Your Problems

Sometimes, it can even be detrimental to your well-being

Danny Forest
4 min readApr 29, 2020


You commonly read articles about self-awareness, but what if it wasn’t that important?

Personally, I prefer the Japanese concept of Ikigai. In Ikigai, who YOU are is only one part of the equation. Self-awareness has the power to help you become more selfless as part of the larger mission that is Ikigai, but first, you might need OTHER skills to be ready for it.

Here’s what Ikigai looks like:

Image: Toronto Star

“What you love” and “What you’re good at” relates to YOU. “What the world needs” and “What you can be paid for” relates to OTHERS.

Can you thrive doing what you love and you’re good at? Can you thrive by simply doing your passion?

I’d argue that it’s quite rare.

Thriving in the 21st century is more complex than it has ever been. Being self-aware may even be detrimental to a few important pillars of your life, like your health, wealth, love, and happiness.

While it’s good to know your strengths and weaknesses and what drives you, it can be quite devastating when you are not able to change your situation. The majority of people feel helpless and have a hard time changing their situation. They know where they need to be going, they just can’t reach it.

There’s generally a big gap between someone who’s self-aware and someone who has the power to take action on it. That’s why I frequently say that self-awareness is the first step.

But now I’ve come to realize that it’s not entirely true. Self-awareness doesn’t have to be the first step. If you can’t change your situation after becoming self-aware, that can lead to some pretty bad anxiety.

Experts agree on its importance, but it’s only one of many important skills to learn. For some people, the impact of being self-aware will be immediate, but from what I’ve observed, it’s rarely the case.



Danny Forest

Polymath. Life Optimizer. Learner. Entrepreneur. Engineer. Writer.