What If Self-Awareness Was Not the Cure to All Your Problems
Sometimes, it can even be detrimental to your well-being
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:
“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.
At a meetup I joined a few months back, someone said something that resonated with this idea:
Once you’re self-aware, you can never go back.
That’s neither positive nor negative in itself, but that may raise your standards. And these new standards might be hard to reach at all times. This can lead to anxiety about performance.
So, if you’ve tried to raise your self-awareness and it only made you more miserable, I have good news for you: you can forget everything you’ve read about the benefits of self-awareness and focus on the following important skills.
Adaptability future-proofs you. The more adaptable you become, the less likely you’ll come to a scenario when you’re helpless about your situation, no matter the change.
The more adaptable you are, the less negative stress you’ll feel. As you manage to adapt to different situations, you get used to the uncomfortable. You lose your fear of the unknown and try things you never thought you could do before.
As much as you try, it’s hard to get rid of a bad habit. It works for a few days, then all of a sudden you’re back to square one. How much better your life would be without it?
Similarly, you’ve tried to integrate new things into your routine, like meditation and going to the gym. It works for a short while and then it falls through. Your habits define who you are. Do you want to be someone else? Change your habits!
Learning to learn
Learning to learn gives you the confidence that you can improve your situation. When you start something new, you’re not afraid of failure, you’re excited for the prospect of personal growth.
Knowing how to learn saves you valuable time and stress. You recognize how to approach new situations and have the means to learn anything new while making the best use of your time.
With good time management, you get to do more of what matters to you. And because everything you do moves through time, any life improvement happens at the expense of time.
As such, good time management helps you in any way you want it to. For you, it could mean more time with your loved ones, more time for your hobbies, more time for a side project, etc.
Don’t beat yourself up if self-awareness isn’t magical for you. Learn other important skills and revisit self-awareness later. You never lose when you’re diversifying what you can do. Continue learning new skills and one day you’ll become self-aware.
You can do this!
For more inspiration, check out dannyforest.com.