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The most effective self-awareness exercise I know – Joshua …

Posted: September 20, 2015 at 8:47 pm


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Know thyself.

Every system of improving your life has some concept of increasing your self-awareness. But what is self-awareness? People with low self-awareness, who could benefit from it most, tend to understand it least. The self self-awareness is aware of refers to something different than, say, knowing you have ten fingers and breathe air.

Experience increases self-awareness best. I wrote below the most effective exercise I know of to increase your self-awareness. I often assign this exercise to my clients, usually as the first. This exercise increases your awareness of how your mind works, in particular a part of it that influences your perception of your environment and how you react to it every moment of every day.

Mental chatter (or self-talk, internal monologue, or voice of judgment, among other names)

Your mental chatter is the voice in your head that runs nearly every waking moment. It runs on and on. It communicates in English. A different part of your mind observes it. It often takes cues from your environment but can jump on its own to whatever topic. It often evaluates and judges.

Comparing mental chatter with how people answer What are you thinking? helps illuminate it. You might say Im thinking about what to eat, but your mental chatter goes more like

Im hungry I wonder what Ill eat is it 12:30 yet? oh no its only noon, its too early to eat now but Im hungry man, Ive been eating too much lately if I make it another half hour Ill be good Im so bad at controlling my diet I better work out after work today thatll be good, Ill work out then I can eat early what time is it now?

it goes on and on. The first thirty seconds of this preview to the movie Adaptation illustrates a characters mental chatter.

Like breathing, you can consciously control mental chatter but if you dont it will run on its own. Learning to control and manage your mental chatter is one of the most fundamental elements to improving your life. And awareness of your mental chatter is the foundation to managing it. Amazingly, people tend not to notice their mental chatter despite its presence nearly every waking moment of their lives, like a fish in water.

The exercise

Each time you write will probably take a few minutes. The whole exercise will take about an hour over a week or two.

At first writing your thoughts will feel like drinking from a fire hose. You cant write fast enough to keep up with your thoughts. Writing changes your thoughts, so you have to figure out how to write what you were thinking. Part of the reason to do the exercise over a week is to get past initial distractions to observe your mind at work.

To get more out of the exercise, write up what youve observed when you finish, especially trends in what you noted in step 3. To get yet more, do it with others and compare results.

EDIT: I created another self-talk exercise that builds on this one, helps build self-awareness, and gives a great social skill too http://joshuaspodek.com/communications-skills-exercises

EDIT 2: I put examples of self-talk here and here.

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The most effective self-awareness exercise I know - Joshua ...

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September 20th, 2015 at 8:47 pm

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Self-Awareness Workshops – Increase Your Self-Awareness

Posted: September 18, 2015 at 12:42 am


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I was training a group of managers who had been through a difficult time in their organization. I asked the question, Why is it that you all were able to move forward when others couldnt? What is the difference between those who can overcome adversity and those who get stuck in it?

The answer is simple but worth highlighting. The leaders who overcome obstacles are those who are able to focus on the positive. This doesnt mean that they minimize problems or dont acknowledge difficulties, its simply that they are able to focus on actually doing positive things.

Leaders have an amazing ability to move in any direction they want to. Right this moment you could start doing something to change your workplace if you wanted to. It just requires making a conscious decision that you are going to do something, anything. Being positive is about focusing on the things you can change and that you have control over.

You are able to make any changes you choose to because you decide how to focus. The next time you feel like there is no hope try taking action to interrupt those thoughts and that will move you in a positive direction. Time after time Ive had leaders tell me that all it took to change their organizations was thinking positively about something they used to think of negatively and taking action to make it happen. What will you do to use the power of positive thinking?

Take care,

Guy

When I help leaders figure out how they want to lead their organization a common theme arises time after time: that change in their workplace starts with them. This seems like a basic concept but it can have profound implications. You can choose to move in a different direction at any time but you have to start. Think of the following ideas as you plan your next leadership step:

1. Think of something you want to achieve in your workplace.

2. Think of one thing you can do today to achieve your goal.

3. Take action and do that thing.

4. Praise yourself for the actions you complete.

5. Ask yourself, What did I learn about myself?

6. Repeat.

Leaders just like you create amazing changes in their workplaces by taking action. Its remarkable how much control you have over your leadership style and workplace results when you consciously do things that create change.

Take care,

Guy

Its easy to focus exclusively on our own perspective when were dealing with conflict in the workplace. We tend to deal with disputes in our organizations in ways we are familiar with and this often means we keep repeating the same patterns and acting the same way we always have. This works well if we get great results but what happens if our behaviors always lead to less than satisfactory outcomes?

We all know people who can never quite resolve their differences with someone else and we watch them repeat the same pattern over and over. Ive noticed that it is helpful to let in some new information and get a fresh perspective. When we let new information in its like opening a window in a stuffy room, we can breathe better and think more clearly. Think about some of the following ideas next time you feel like you will never resolve an ongoing conflict.

1. Who can I turn to that is not involved in my situation and can give me impartial advice?

2. Am I willing to let an outside person offer me advice?

3. How open am I to talking about difficult issues with an outside person?

4. How open am I to doing the work necessary to move in a different direction?

5. What actions will I commit to doing?

Think about these questions and keep in mind that none of us has all the answers but we all have the ability to acquire new information if we are open enough. Let some air in, enjoy a fresh perspective and start moving in a new direction.

Take care,

Guy

Many leaders stare blankly when I mention diversity, to the point where I wonder whether they even realize that diversity is all around them. Think of your regular workplace. Are there two people who think exactly alike? Do any two people look exactly the same? Does everyone have the same leadership style? Does everyone have exactly the same knowledge? Did everyone grow up exactly the same way?

Every workplace is made up of people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This isnt due to some cosmic plan, its just that no two people are alike. So why is it that people get all bent out of shape about diversity?

Perhaps its just that we dont like to think about new and different things. Humans are generally resistant to change but are amazingly capable of assimilating it over time.Why should you care about diversity? It really comes down to getting stuff done. Imagine if everyone on your team felt included. Think about what would happen if you could get rid of much of the problems related to people not getting along at work. What would your business look like if people trusted each other and worked as a team?

Diversity can be a powerful tool for businesses and individuals to succeed. It allows you to harness and use the wide range of talents and experience of your workforce. Best of all it makes sure that everyone is part of a thriving team rather than the alternative.

Take care,

Guy

Micromanaging is the act of inserting yourself into every task you employee is doing. At its most basic, micromanaging is the inability to let other people do their jobs. Why does this happen? Often it is simply that we dont know any other way to manage people. You can enjoy even better results from you employees if you keep the following tips in mind:

1. Let employees do tasks alone and only help if they ask. 2. Give people the opportunity to show you what they do well. 3. Provide education only when employees ask you. 4. Figure out why it is you choose to micromanage. 5. Picture what you could do with your business if you werent micromanaging.

They myth in business is that you have to be a hands on manager to get results. Regrettably, this approach does not allow employees to grow or to experience the learning that comes from doing things oneself. True growth occurs on the job when we are allowed to learn from our mistakes and our successes.

Take care,

Guy

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Self-Awareness Workshops - Increase Your Self-Awareness

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September 18th, 2015 at 12:42 am

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Home – Happyyen’s Self Awareness in the Rain Forest Tour

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Psycho-Cybernetics inaction

Come, learn and have an experiential day with Happyyen to enjoy the following:

High Light of the 10 hours trip is:

1-Jungle trekking

Jungle trekking in the Malaysian rain -forest for an hour and a half to learn about the flora, fauna and the TAO Philosophy (approx. 3 km, includes five river crossings which most guests, really will appreciate) before you reach this magnificent waterfall (approx. 27 meters ).

Trekking time is approximately 90 minutes.

2-Mental Training

Learn about mind over matter ie. Learn how to submerge your body in a 41 C to 49 C hot-spring pool. Once you have immersed in it, you will realize that you are the master of your own destiny. You set your own imagination.

3-Understanding similarities of various religion

With the right understanding, you will learn to accept that religious belief is a personal affair between the person and his personal GOD.

4-Experience good Malaysian meals

During the trip you will experience Indian, Malay and /or Chinese cuisine.

Trip recommended by LONELY PLANET (Jan 2010)

Visit TripTripAdvisorReviews

(click above)

Certificate of Excellence

2013 WINNER

For more infomation:

email: happyyen5@gmail.com telphone:+60173697831 skype : happyyen

Chiling Waterfall

Click on photo for more pictures

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Home - Happyyen's Self Awareness in the Rain Forest Tour

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September 18th, 2015 at 12:42 am

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Self-awareness – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: September 14, 2015 at 5:03 am


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Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.[1] It is not to be confused with consciousness in the sense of qualia. While consciousness is a term given to being aware of ones environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that awareness.[2]

There are questions regarding what part of the brain allows us to be self-aware and how we are biologically programmed to be self-aware. V.S. Ramachandran has speculated that mirror neurons may provide the neurological basis of human self-awareness.[3] In an essay written for the Edge Foundation in 2009 Ramachandran gave the following explanation of his theory: "... I also speculated that these neurons can not only help simulate other people's behavior but can be turned 'inward'as it wereto create second-order representations or meta-representations of your own earlier brain processes. This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self awareness and other awareness. There is obviously a chicken-or-egg question here as to which evolved first, but... The main point is that the two co-evolved, mutually enriching each other to create the mature representation of self that characterizes modern humans."[4]

Studies have been done mainly on primates to test if self-awareness is present. Apes, monkeys, elephants, and dolphins have been studied most frequently. The most relevant studies to this day that represent self-awareness in animals have been done on chimpanzees, dolphins, and magpies. Self-awareness in animals is tested through mirror self recognition. Animals who show mirror self recognition go through four stages 1) social response, 2) physical mirror inspection, 3) repetitive mirror testing behavior, and 4) the mark test; which involves the animals spontaneously touching a mark on their body which would have been difficult to see without the mirror.[5]

The Red Spot Technique created and experimented by Gordon Gallup[6] studies self-awareness in animals (primates). Toivanen says on a study done on perceptual self-awareness,"The attribution of self-perception to animals is based on a distinction between the experiential awareness of the soul and the intellectual understanding of its essence, a distinction postulated."[7] In this technique, a red odorless spot is placed on an anesthetized primates forehead. The spot is placed on the forehead so that it can only be seen through a mirror. Once the individual awakens, independent movements toward the spot after seeing their reflection in a mirror are observed. During the Red Spot Technique, after looking in the mirror, chimpanzees used their fingers to touch the red dot that was on their forehead and after touching the red dot they would even smell their fingertips.[8] "Animals that can recognize themselves in mirrors can conceive of themselves," says Gallup. Another prime example are elephants. Three elephants were exposed to large mirrors where experimenters studied the reaction when they saw their reflection. These elephants were given the "litmus mark test" in order to see whether they were aware of what they were looking at. This visible mark was applied on the elephants and the researchers reported a large progress with self-awareness. The elephants shared this success rate with other animals such as monkeys and dolphins.[9]

Chimpanzees and other apes species which have been studied extensively compare the most to humans with the most convincing findings and straightforward evidence in the relativity of self-awareness in animals so far.[10] Dolphins were put to a similar test and achieved the same results. Diana Reiss, a psycho-biologist at the New York Aquarium discovered that bottlenose dolphins can recognize themselves in mirrors.[11]

Researchers used the Mark test or Mirror test [12] to study the magpies self awareness. As a majority of birds are blind below the beak, Prior and colleagues[10] marked the birds neck with three different colors: red, yellow and a black imitation, as magpies are originally black. When placed in front of a mirror, the birds with the red and yellow spots began scratching at their necks, signaling the understanding of something different being on their bodies. During one trial with a mirror and a mark, three out of the five magpies showed a minimum of one example of self-directed behavior. The magpies explored the mirror by moving toward it and looking behind it. One of the magpies, Harvey, during several trials would pick up objects, posed, did some wing-flapping, all in front of the mirror with the objects in his beak. This represents a sense of self-awareness; knowing what is going on within himself and in the present. The authors suggest that self-recognition in birds and mammals may be a case of convergent evolution, where similar evolutionary pressures result in similar behaviors or traits, although they arrive at them via different routes.[13]

A few slight occurrences of behavior towards the magpie's own body happened in the trial with the black mark and the mirror. It is an assumption in this study[10] that the black mark may have been slightly visible on the black feathers. Prior and Colleagues,[10] stated "This is an indirect support for the interpretation that the behavior towards the mark region was elicited by seeing the own body in the mirror in conjunction with an unusual spot on the body."

The behaviors of the magpies clearly contrasted with no mirror present. In the no-mirror trials, a non-reflective gray plate of the same size and in the same position as the mirror was swapped in. There were not any mark directed self-behaviors when the mark was present, in color, or in black.[10] Prior and Colleagues,[10] data quantitatively matches the findings in chimpanzees. In summary of The Mark Test,[10] the results show that magpies understand that a mirror image represents their own body; magpies show to have self-awareness.

Just as Swiss cleaning robots perform behaviors that effectively cleans a room without being aware of it or having any program to detect debris, an organism can be effectively altruistic without being self-aware, aware of any distinction between egoism and altruism, or aware of qualia in others. This by simple reactions to specific situations which happens to benefit other individuals in the organism's natural environment. If self-awareness led to a necessity of an emotional empathy mechanism for altruism and egoism being default in its absence, that would have precluded evolution from a state without self-awareness to a self-aware state in all social animals. The ability of the theory of evolution to explain self-awareness can be rescued by abandoning the hypothesis of self-awareness being a basis for cruelty.[14][15]

Self-awareness has been called "arguably the most fundamental issue in psychology, from both a developmental and an evolutionary perspective."[16]

Self-awareness theory, developed by Duval and Wicklund in their 1972 landmark book A theory of objective self awareness, states that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.[17] However self-awareness is not to be confused with self-consciousness.[18] Various emotional states are intensified by self-awareness. However, some people may seek to increase their self-awareness through these outlets. People are more likely to align their behavior with their standards when made self-aware. People will be negatively affected if they don't live up to their personal standards. Various environmental cues and situations induce awareness of the self, such as mirrors, an audience, or being videotaped or recorded. These cues also increase accuracy of personal memory.[19] In one of Demetriou's neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, self-awareness develops systematically from birth through the life span and it is a major factor for the development of general inferential processes.[20] Moreover, a series of recent studies showed that self-awareness about cognitive processes participates in general intelligence on a par with processing efficiency functions, such as working memory, processing speed, and reasoning.[21]Albert Bandura's theory of self-efficacy builds on our varying degrees of self-awareness. It is "the belief in ones capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations." A persons belief in their ability to succeed sets the stage to how they think, behave and feel. Someone with a strong self-efficacy, for example, views challenges as mere tasks that must be overcome, and are not easily discouraged by setbacks. They are aware of their flaws and abilities and choose to utilize these qualities to the best of their ability. Someone with a weak sense of self-efficacy evades challenges and quickly feels discouraged by setbacks. They may not be aware of these negative reactions, and therefore do not always change their attitude. This concept is central to Banduras social cognitive theory, "which emphasizes the role of observational learning, social experience, and reciprocal determinism in the development of personality."[22]

Individuals become conscious of themselves through the development of self-awareness.[16] This particular type of self-development pertains to becoming conscious of one's own body and mental state of mind including thoughts, actions, ideas, feelings and interactions with others.[23] "Self-awareness does not occur suddenly through one particular behavior: it develops gradually through a succession of different behaviors all of which relate to the self."[24] The monitoring of one's mental states is called metacognition and it is considered to be an indicator that there is some concept of the self.[25] It is developed through an early sense of non-self components using sensory and memory sources. In developing self awareness through self-exploration and social experiences one can broaden their social world and become more familiar with the self.

According to Emory Universitys Philippe Rochat, there are five levels of self-awareness which unfold in early development and six potential prospects ranging from "Level 0" (having no self-awareness) advancing complexity to "Level 5" (explicit self-awareness).[16]

By the time an average toddler reaches 18 months they will discover themselves and recognize their own reflection in the mirror. By the age of 24 months the toddler will observe and relate their own actions to those actions of other people and the surrounding environment.[26] There are multiple experiments that show a childs self-awareness. In what has come to be known as The Shopping Cart Task, "Children were asked to push a shopping the cart to their mothers but in attempting to do so they had to step on the mat and in consequence, their body weight prevented the cart from moving".[27]

Around school age a childs awareness of personal memory transitions into a sense of one's own self. At this stage, a child begins to develop interests along with likes and dislikes. This transition enables the awareness of an individuals past, present, and future to grow as conscious experiences are remembered more often.[26]

As a childs self-awareness increases they tend to separate and become their own person. Their cognitive and social development allows "the taking of another's perspective and the accepting of inconsistencies."[28] By adolescence, a coherent and integrated self-perception normally emerges. This very personal emerging perspective continues to direct and advance an individuals self-awareness throughout their adult life.

One becomes conscious of their emotions during adolescence. Most children are aware of emotions such as shame, guilt, pride and embarrassment by the age of two, but do not fully understand how those emotions affect their life.[29] By age 13, children become more in touch with these emotions and begin to apply them to their own lives. A study entitled "The Construction of the Self" found that many adolescents display happiness and self-confidence around friends, but hopelessness and anger around parents due to the fear of being a disappointment. Teenagers were also shown to feel intelligent and creative around teachers, and shy, uncomfortable and nervous around people they were not familiar with.[30]

An early philosophical discussion of self-awareness is that of John Locke. Locke was apparently influenced by Ren Descartes' statement normally translated 'I think, therefore I am' (Cogito ergo sum). In chapter XXVII "On Identity and Diversity" of Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) he conceptualized consciousness as the repeated self-identification of oneself through which moral responsibility could be attributed to the subjectand therefore punishment and guiltiness justified, as critics such as Nietzsche would point out, affirming "...the psychology of conscience is not 'the voice of God in man'; it is the instinct of cruelty ... expressed, for the first time, as one of the oldest and most indispensable elements in the foundation of culture."[31][32][33] John Locke does not use the terms self-awareness or self-consciousness though.[34]

According to Locke, personal identity (the self) "depends on consciousness, not on substance.[35] We are the same person to the extent that we are conscious of our past and future thoughts and actions in the same way as we are conscious of our present thoughts and actions. If consciousness is this "thought" which doubles all thoughts, then personal identity is only founded on the repeated act of consciousness: "This may show us wherein personal identity consists: not in the identity of substance, but ... in the identity of consciousness."[35] For example, one may claim to be a reincarnation of Plato, therefore having the same soul. However, one would be the same person as Plato only if one had the same consciousness of Plato's thoughts and actions that he himself did. Therefore, self-identity is not based on the soul. One soul may have various personalities.[36]

Locke argues that self-identity is not founded either on the body or the substance, as the substance may change while the person remains the same. "Animal identity is preserved in identity of life, and not of substance", as the body of the animal grows and changes during its life.[35] describes a case of a prince and a cobbler in which the soul of the prince is transferred to the body of the cobbler and vice versa. The prince still views himself as a prince, though he no longer looks like one. This border-case leads to the problematic thought that since personal identity is based on consciousness, and that only oneself can be aware of his consciousness, exterior human judges may never know if they really are judgingand punishingthe same person, or simply the same body. Locke argues that you may be judged for the actions of your body rather than your soul, and only God knows how to correctly judge a mans actions. Men also are only responsible for the acts of which they are conscious. This forms the basis of the insanity defense which argues that one cannot be held accountable for acts in which they were unconsciously irrational, or mentally ill[37] In reference to mans personality, Locke claims that "whatever past actions it cannot reconcile or appropriate to that present self by consciousness, it can be no more concerned in it than if they had never been done: and to receive pleasure or pain, i.e. reward or punishment, on the account of any such action, is all one as to be made happy or miserable in its first being, without any demerit at all."[38]

The medical term for not seeing what ails you is anosognosia, or more commonly known as a lack of insight. Having a lack of awareness raises the risks of treatment and service nonadherence.[39] Individuals who deny having an illness may be against seeking professional help because they are convinced that nothing is wrong with them. Disorders of self-awareness frequently follow frontal lobe damage.[40] There are two common methods used to measure how severe an individuals lack of self-awareness is. The Patient Competency Rating Scale (PCRS) evaluates self-awareness in patients who have endured a traumatic brain injury.[41] PCRS is a 30-item self-report instrument which asks the subject to use a 5-point Likert scale to rate his or her degree of difficulty in a variety of tasks and functions. Independently, relatives or significant others who know the patient well are also asked to rate the patient on each of the same behavioral items. The difference between the relatives and patients perceptions is considered an indirect measure of impaired self-awareness. The limitations of this experiment rest on the answers of the relatives. Results of their answers can lead to a bias. This limitation prompted a second method of testing a patients self-awareness. Simply asking a patient why they are in the hospital or what is wrong with their body can give compelling answers as to what they see and are analyzing.[42]

Dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder is a disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control an individual's behavior at different times.[43] One identity may be different from another, and when an individual with DID is under the influence of one of their identities, they may forget their experiences when they switch to the other identity. "When under the control of one identity, a person is usually unable to remember some of the events that occurred while other personalities were in control."[44] They may experience time loss, amnesia, and adopt different mannerisms, attitudes, speech and ideas under different personalities. They are often unaware of the different lives they lead or their condition in general, feeling as though they are looking at their life through the lens of someone else, and even being unable to recognize themselves in a mirror.[45] Two cases of DID have brought awareness to the disorder, the first case being that of Eve. This patient harbored three different personalities: Eve White the good wife and mother, Eve Black the party girl, and Jane the intellectual. Under stress, her episodes would worsen. She even tried to strangle her own daughter and had no recollection of the act afterward. Eve went through years of therapy before she was able to learn how to control her alters and be mindful of her disorder and episodes. Her condition, being so rare at the time, inspired the book and film adaptation The Three Faces of Eve, as well as a memoir by Eve herself entitled I am Eve. Doctors speculated that growing up during the Depression and witnessing horrific things being done to other people could have triggered emotional distress, periodic amnesia, and eventually DID.[46] In the second case, Shirley Mason, or Sybil, was described as having over 16 separate personalities with different characteristics and talents. Her accounts of horrific and sadistic abuse by her mother during childhood prompted doctors to believe that this trauma caused her personalities to split, furthering the unproven idea that this disorder was rooted in child abuse, while also making the disorder famous. In 1998 however, Sybils case was exposed as a sham. Her therapist would encourage Sybil to act as her other alter ego although she felt perfectly like herself. Her condition was exaggerated in order to seal book deals and television adaptations.[47] Awareness of this disorder began to crumble shortly after this finding. To this day, no proven cause of DID has been found, but treatments such as psychotherapy, medications, hypnotherapy, and adjunctive therapies have proven to be very effective.[48]

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurodevelopmental disabilities that can adversely impact social communication and create behavioral challenges (Understanding Autism, 2003)[49] "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors."[50] ASDs can also cause imaginative abnormalities and can range from mild to severe, especially in sensory-motor, perceptual and affective dimensions.[51] Children with ASD may struggle with self-awareness and self acceptance. Their different thinking patterns and brain processing functions in the area of social thinking and actions may compromise their ability to understand themselves and social connections to others[52] About 75% diagnosed autistics are mentally handicapped in some general way and the other 25% diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome show average to good cognitive functioning.[53] When we compare our own behavior to the morals and values that we were taught, we can focus more attention on ourselves which increases self-awareness. To understand the many effects of autism spectrum disorders on those afflicted have led many scientists to theorize what level of self-awareness occurs and in what degree. Research found, ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention. It can be affected physical health issues as well such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. As a result of all those problems, individuals are literally unaware of themselves.[54] It is well known that children suffering from varying degrees of autism struggle in social situations. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have produced evidence that self-awareness is a main problem for people with ASD. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance scans (FMRI) to measure brain activity in volunteers being asked to make judgments about their own thoughts, opinions, preferences, as well as about someone else's. One area of the brain closely examined was the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex (vMPFC) which is known to be active when people think about themselves.[55]

A study out of Stanford University has tried to map out brain circuits with understanding self-awareness in Autism Spectrum Disorders.[56] This study suggests that self-awareness is primarily lacking in social situations but when in private they are more self-aware and present. It is in the company of others while engaging in interpersonal interaction that the self-awareness mechanism seems to fail. Higher functioning individuals on the ASD scale have reported that they are more self-aware when alone unless they are in sensory overload or immediately following social exposure.[57] Self-awareness dissipates when an autistic is faced with a demanding social situation. This theory suggests that this happens due to the behavioral inhibitory system which is responsible for self-preservation. This is the system that prevents human from self-harm like jumping out of a speeding bus or putting our hand on a hot stove. Once a dangerous situation is perceived then the behavioral inhibitory system kicks in and restrains our activities. "For individuals with ASD, this inhibitory mechanism is so powerful, it operates on the least possible trigger and shows an over sensitivity to impending danger and possible threats.[57] Some of these dangers may be perceived as being in the presence of strangers, or a loud noise from a radio. In these situations self-awareness can be compromised due to the desire of self preservation, which trumps social composure and proper interaction.

The Hobson hypothesis reports that autism begins in infancy due to the lack of cognitive and linguistic engagement which in turn results in impaired reflective self-awareness. In this study ten children with Asperger's Syndrome were examined using the Self-understanding Interview. This interview was created by Damon and Hart and focuses on seven core areas or schemas that measure the capacity to think in increasingly difficult levels. This interview will estimate the level of self understanding present. "The study showed that the Asperger group demonstrated impairment in the 'self-as-object' and 'self-as-subject domains of the Self-understanding Interview, which supported Hobson's concept of an impaired capacity for self-awareness and self-reflection in people with ASD.".[58] Self-understanding is a self description in an individuals past, present and future. Without self-understanding it is reported that self-awareness is lacking in people with ASD.

Joint attention (JA) was developed as a teaching strategy to help increase positive self-awareness in those with autism spectrum disorder.[59] JA strategies were first used to directly teach about reflected mirror images and how they relate to their reflected image. Mirror Self Awareness Development (MSAD) activities were used as a four-step framework to measure increases in self-awareness in those with ASD. Self-awareness and knowledge is not something that can simply be taught through direct instruction. Instead, students acquire this knowledge by interacting with their environment.[59] Mirror understanding and its relation to the development of self leads to measurable increases in self-awareness in those with ASD. It also proves to be a highly engaging and highly preferred tool in understanding the developmental stages of self- awareness.

There have been many different theories and studies done on what degree of self-awareness is displayed among people with autism spectrum disorder. Scientists have done research about the various parts of the brain associated with understanding self and self-awareness. Studies have shown evidence of areas of the brain that are impacted by ASD. Other theories suggest that helping an individual learn more about themselves through Joint Activities, such as the Mirror Self Awareness Development may help teach positive self-awareness and growth. In helping to build self-awareness it is also possible to build self-esteem and self acceptance. This in turn can help to allow the individual with ASD to relate better to their environment and have better social interactions with others.

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric illness characterized by excessive dopamine activity in the mesolimbic tract and insufficient dopamine activity in the mesocortical tract leading to symptoms of psychosis along with poor cognition in socialization. Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, people with schizophrenia have a combination of positive, negative and psychomotor symptoms. These cognitive disturbances involve rare beliefs and/or thoughts of a distorted reality that creates an abnormal pattern of functioning for the patient. Multiple studies have investigated this issue. Although it has been studied and proven that schizophrenia is hereditary,[60] most patients that inherit this gene are not aware of their disorder, regardless of their family history. It is believed that Schizophrenia, in individuals of a family history of the disease, can be triggered by stressful life events.[61] The level of self-awareness among patients with schizophrenia is a heavily studied topic.

Schizophrenia as a disease state is characterized by severe cognitive dysfunction and it is uncertain to what extent patients are aware of this deficiency. Medalia and Lim (2004),[62] investigated patients awareness of their cognitive deficit in the areas of attention, nonverbal memory, and verbal memory. Results from this study (N=185) revealed large discrepancy in patients assessment of their cognitive functioning relative to the assessment of their clinicians. Though it is impossible to access ones consciousness and truly understand what a schizophrenic believes, regardless in this study, patients were not aware of their cognitive dysfunctional reasoning. In the DSM-5, to properly diagnose a schizophrenic, they must have two or more of the following symptoms in the duration of one month: delusions*, hallucinations*, disorganized speech*, grossly disorganized/catatonic behavior and negative symptoms (*these three symptoms above all other symptoms must be present to correctly diagnose a patient.) Sometimes these symptoms are very prominent and are treated with a combination of antipsychotics (i.e. haloperidol, loxapine), atypical antipsychotics (such as clozapine and risperdone) and psychosocial therapies that include family interventions and socials skills. When a patient is undergoing treatment and recovering from the disorder, the memory of their behavior is present in a diminutive amount; thus, self-awareness of diagnoses of schizophrenia after treatment is rare, as well as subsequent to onset and prevalence in the patient.

The above findings are further supported by a study conducted by Amador and colleagues.[63] The study suggests a correlation exists between patient insight, compliance and disease progression. Investigators assess insight of illness was assessed via Scale to Assess Unawareness of Mental Disorder and was used along with rating of psychopathology, course of illness, and compliance with treatments in a sample of 43 patients. Patients with poor insight are less likely to be compliant with treatment and are more likely to have a poorer prognosis. Patients with hallucinations sometimes experience positive symptoms, which can include delusions of reference, thought insertion/withdrawal, thought broadcast, delusions of persecution, grandiosity and many more. These psychoses skew the patients perspectives of reality in ways in which they truly believe are really happening. For instance, a patient that is experiencing delusions of reference may believe while watching the weather forecast that when the weatherman says it will rain, he is really sending a message to the patient in which rain symbolizes a specific warning completely irrelevant to what the weather is. Another example would be thought broadcast, which is when a patient believes that everyone can hear their thoughts. These positive symptoms sometimes are so severe to where the schizophrenic believes that something is crawling on them or smelling something that is not there in reality. These strong hallucinations are intense and difficult to convince the patient that they do not exist outside of their cognitive beliefs, making it extremely difficult for a patient to understand and become self-aware that what they are experiencing is in fact not there.

Furthermore, a study by Bedford and Davis[64](2013) was conducted to look at the association of denial vs. acceptance of multiple facets of schizophrenia (self reflection, self perception and insight) and its effect on self-reflection (N=26). Study results suggest patients with increased disease denial have lower recollection for self evaluated mental illnesses. To a great extent, disease denial creates a hardship for patients to undergo recovery because their feelings and sensations are intensely outstanding. But just as this and the above studies imply, a large proportion of schizophrenics do not have self-awareness of their illness for many factors and severity of reasoning of their diagnoses.

Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes shifts in mood, energy, and ability to function. Self-awareness is crucial in those suffering from this disease, as they must be able to distinguish between feeling a certain way because of the disorder or because of separate issues. "Personality, behavior, and dysfunction affect your bipolar disorder, so you must 'know' yourself in order to make the distinction."[65] This disorder is a difficult one to diagnose, as self-awareness changes with mood. "For instance, what might appear to you as confidence and clever ideas for a new business venture might be a pattern of grandiose thinking and manic behavior".[66] Issues occur between understanding irrationality in a mood swing and being completely wrapped in a manic episode, rationalizing that the exhibited behaviors are normal.

Theater also concerns itself with other awareness besides self-awareness. There is a possible correlation between the experience of the theater audience and individual self-awareness. As actors and audiences must not "break" the fourth wall in order to maintain context, so individuals must not be aware of the artificial, or the constructed perception of his or her reality. This suggests that both self-awareness and the social constructs applied to others are artificial continuums just as theater is. Theatrical efforts such as Six Characters in Search of an Author, or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, construct yet another layer of the fourth wall, but they do not destroy the primary illusion. Refer to Erving Goffman's Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience.[citation needed]

In science fiction, self-awareness describes an essential human property that often (depending on the circumstances of the story) bestows personhood onto a non-human. If a computer, alien or other object is described as "self-aware", the reader may assume that it will be treated as a completely human character, with similar rights, capabilities and desires to a normal human being.[67] The words "sentience", "sapience" and "consciousness" are used in similar ways in science fiction.

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Self-Awareness and Personal Development

In a Nutshell With our busy schedules it might be difficult to find time to think about who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, our drives and personalities, our habits and values. Besides, many of us just aren't inclined to spend much time on self-reflection. Even when personal feedback is presented to us, we're not always open to it, because honest feedback isn't always flattering. Consequently, many of us have a pretty low level of self-awareness. That's unfortunate, because self-awarenessis an essential first step toward maximizing management skills. Self-awareness can improve our judgment and help us identify opportunities for professional development and personal growth.

In This Issue

Does Eisner Have CEO Disease? The board members who led the coup that brought current CEO Michael Eisner to Disney in 1984 are poised to lead another coup. Earlier this month Roy Disney (nephew of founder Walt Disney) and his ally on Disney's board, Stanley Gold, resigned. On their way out the door, the duo wrote scathing critiques of Eisner's leadership and vowed to lead stockholder and employee revolts against him. Specifically, Roy Disney and Gold criticized Eisner's failure to develop a successor, empower the creative staff, and generate marketable innovations and programs.1 For years press reports have suggested Eisner is a politically minded manager who develops power bases better than he develops executives. Michael Eisner could very well be suffering from what Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee refer to as "CEO disease" in their best-selling book, Primal Leadership. They describe CEO disease as "the information vacuum around a leader created when people withhold important (and usually unpleasant) information."2 Eisner is the prototypical candidate for CEO disease. He is notorious for filling Disney's board of directors with cronies and others who would be unlikely to be very critical of his decision-making and performance. Consequently, he can act with virtual impunity and caprice. It would be risky for an executive to criticize Eisner's actions or choices. Hence, Eisner is unlikely to be offered much of the constructive criticism a CEO needs to improve his or her performance. Just as being able to see your reflection in the mirror helps you to fix your hair, feedback on your characteristics and behaviors helps you to develop your management skills and improve your judgment. Self-awareness--i.e., knowing your personal characteristics and how your actions affect other people, business results, etc.--is an essential first step toward maximizing your management skills. Self-awareness is the antidote to CEO disease.

Key Areas for Self-Awareness Human beings are complex and diverse. To become more self-aware, we should develop an understanding of ourselves in many areas. Key areas for self-awareness include our personality traits, personal values, habits, emotions, and the psychological needs that drive our behaviors. Personality. We don't normally change our personalities, values and needs based on what we learn about ourselves. But, an understanding of our personalities can help us find situations in which we will thrive, and help us avoid situations in which we will experience too much stress. For instance, if you are a highly introverted person, you are likely to experience more stress in a sales position than a highly extroverted person would. So, if you are highly introverted, you should either learn skills to cope with the demands of a sales position that requires extravert-type behavior patterns, or you should find a position that is more compatible with your personality. Awareness of your personality helps you analyze such a decision. Roy Disney and Stanley Gold would say that Michael Eisner's personality is too controlling. He has buffered himself from threats to his tenure as CEO by co-opting the board of directors and by micro-managing the executives he should be developing and empowering. As a result, his performance as CEO has suffered. Values. It's important that we each know and focus on our personal values. For instance, if your first priority is "being there for your children" or "your relationship with God," it's very easy to lose sight of those priorities on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis. During the workday, so many problems and opportunities arise that our lists of "things to do" can easily exceed the time we have to do them. Since few (if any) of those things pertain to what we value most, it's easy to spend too much time on lower priority activities. When we focus on our values, we are more likely to accomplish what we consider most important. Habits. Our habits are the behaviors that we repeat routinely and often automatically. Although we would like to possess the habits that help us interact effectively with and manage others, we can probably all identify at least one of our habits that decreases our effectiveness. For example, if you are a manager who never consults your staff before making decisions, that habit may interfere with your ability to build your staff members' commitment to the decisions and their decision-making skills as well. Needs. Maslow and other scholars have identified a variety of psychological needs that drive our behaviors such as needs for esteem, affection, belongingness, achievement, self-actualization, power and control. One of the advantages of knowing which needs exert the strongest influence on our own behaviors is the ability to understand how they affect our interpersonal relationships. For instance, most of us have probably known people who have a high need for status. They're attracted to high status occupations, and they seek high status positions within their organizations. Such people also want the things that symbolize their status. They insist that they be shown respect, and they want privileges and perks that people of lower status can't have. Sometimes these people fight for things that others see as inconsequential--like a bigger office. Needs cause motivation; and when needs aren't satisfied, they can cause frustration, conflict and stress. Emotions. Emotional self-awareness has become a hot topic of discussion recently because it's one of the five facets of emotional intelligence. Understanding your own feelings, what causes them, and how they impact your thoughts and actions is emotional self-awareness. If you were once excited about your job but not excited now, can you get excited again? To answer that question, it helps to understand the internal processes associated with getting excited. That sounds simpler than it is. Here's an analogy: I think I know how my car starts--I put gas in the tank, put the key in the ignition, and turn the key. But, my mechanic knows a lot more about what's involved in getting my car started than I do--he knows what happens under the hood. My mechanic is able to start my car on the occasions when I'm not because he understands the internal processes. Similarly, a person with high emotional self-awareness understands the internal process associated with emotional experiences and, therefore, has greater control over them.

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How Self-Awareness Makes You More Effective Self-awareness helps managers identify gaps in their management skills, which promotes skill development. But self-awareness also helps managers find situations in which they will be most effective, assists with intuitive decision making, and aids stress management and motivation of oneself and others. Skill development. Improvement projects should normally begin with an assessment of the gap between the current situation and the desired future situation. Having an accurate sense of who you are helps you decide what you should do to improve. Often, self-awareness will reveal a skills gap that you want to work on. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness helps you exploit your strengths and cope with your weaknesses. For instance, if you are someone who is good at "seeing the big picture" that surrounds decisions, but not as good at focusing on the details, you might want to consult colleagues and subordinates that are more detail-oriented when making major decisions. Cooperation between big-picture-oriented decision makers and detail-oriented decision makers can produce high quality decisions. Developing intuitive decision-making skills. Leaders with well-developed emotional self-awareness are more effective intuitive decision makers. In complex situations, intuitive decision makers process large amounts of sometimes unstructured and ambiguous data, and they choose a course of action based on a "gut feeling" or a "sense" of what's best. This type of decision making is becoming more important for managers as the rate of change and the levels of uncertainty and complexity in their competitive environments increase. Managers who are highly emotionally self-aware are better able to read their "gut feelings" and use them to guide decisions. Stress. Jobs that don't suit your personality tend to give you more stress than jobs that are more compatible. This is not to say that you should never take a job that conflicts with your personality. However, be aware that you will need to work extra hard to develop the skills for that job, and there are jobs that would be less stressful for you. Motivation. It's very difficult to cope with poor results when you don't understand what causes them. When you don't know what behaviors to change to improve your performance, you just feel helpless. Self-awareness is empowering because it can reveal where the performance problems are and indicate what can be done to improve performance. In addition, awareness of your psychological needs can increase your motivation by helping you understand and seek out the rewards that you really desire such as a sense of accomplishment, additional responsibility, an opportunity to help others, or a flexible work schedule. Leadership. When we understand "what make us tick"--what gets us excited, why we behave the way we do, etc.--we also have insight into what makes others tick. To the extent that other people are like you (and, of course, there are limits to the similarity), knowing how to motivate yourself is tantamount to knowing how to motivate others.

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Practicing This Management Skill You can become more self-aware by seeking feedback from the people who know you, completing self-assessment surveys, and hiring an expert like a professional counselor or executive coach. Ask somebody. If you have open, trusting relationships with the people who know you, you can ask them for feedback about your personality, habits, needs and values. Research shows that your coworkers, friends and family members CAN provide valid assessments of your personality. But, they do NOT ALWAYS provide an accurate assessment. For instance, I once asked my undergraduate students to describe my personality on the four Myers-Briggs personality dimensions, and they described the exact opposite of my actual personality. Their ratings described the personality that is appropriate for a teacher, and they also rated me as an effective teacher. So, they saw me act like a teacher in my role as a teacher, but those behaviors are not representative of my behaviors in other roles. There are two lessons in that: (1) You can develop skills for a role that doesn't match your personality. (2) People who only see you in one role can only describe your behaviors in relation to that role. Analogously, if you mismanage your time so that you spend too much time on things that don't matter much to you, people will have a very different perception of your values than you do. For instance, maybe you say that your family is important to you, but how do you spend your time? Another limitation on the value of the feedback you get from family, friends and especially coworkers is that they may not be completely candid with you. This is where the trust factor looms large. Unflattering feedback is the type that has the most potential for helping you develop your management skills, but it is also the most difficult to give and to accept. People aren't very likely to give you unflattering feedback if there isn't a high level of trust in your relationship with them ... unless they don't mind harming the relationship. For this reason, many experts (e.g., Ed Eppley, Area Manager for Dale Carnegie Training, and Ellen Van Velsor of the Center for Creative Leadership) suggest that managers find a way to get anonymous feedback from staff members and co-workers. Questionnaires. One of the ways to improve the quality of the feedback that you can receive from other people is by asking them to fill out a psychometrically sound inventory of your personality, values, needs, or habits as they perceive them. Those surveys are composed and structured in such a way as to maximize the accuracy of the feedback they generate. With the help of a facilitator, the surveys can be completed anonymously. You can also fill out surveys yourself as a means of self-assessment. Seek professional help. Professional counselors and executive coaches can be a great source of feedback to help you develop your self-awareness. Of course, not everyone who calls herself a coach is qualified. You should evaluate the training and certifications of counselors and coaches. Nevertheless, executive coaching is a great resource, and it's a growing area of management consulting. Coaches not only help you get a better picture of who you are; they also guide you through self-improvement. Often coaches collect anonymous evaluations of their clients from their subordinates, superiors or anyone else who is in a position to provide helpful feedback. Good coaches know how to effectively collect and digest the feedback. Professional counselors, such as guidance counselors and clinical psychologists, are also great resources. Guidance counselors can provide inventories of your personality and interests. Clinical psychologists can help you understand and work on aspects of your personality and habits that interfere with any facet of your life, including work.

In Summary ... To perfect your management skills, the best place to start is self-awareness. Self-awareness means knowing your values, personality, needs, habits, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, etc. With a sense of who you are and a vision of the person you want to become, a plan for professional or personal development can be created. Moreover, self-awareness allows you to motivate yourself and manage your stress better, helps you with your intuitive decision making, and helps you to lead and motivate others more effectively. Self-awareness is very useful.

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Photo Credit AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove: e-mailed to me from Yahoo! News; news.yahoo.com.

Notes

About the Newsletter and Subscriptions LeaderLetter is written by Dr. Scott Williams, Department of Management, Raj Soin College of Business, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. It is a supplement to my MBA 751 - Managing People in Organizations class. It is intended to reinforce the course concepts and maintain communication among my former MBA 751 students, but anyone is welcome to subscribe. In addition, subscribers are welcome to forward this newsletter to anyone who they believe would have an interest in it. To subscribe, simply send an e-mail message to me requesting subscription. Of course, subscriptions to the newsletter are free. To unsubscribe, e-mail a reply indicating that you would like to unsubscribe.

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E-mail Your Comments Whether you are one of my former students or not, I invite you to share any insights or concerns you have regarding the topic of this newsletter or any other topic relating to management skills. Please e-mail them to me. Our interactions have been invaluable. I learn a lot from LeaderLetter subscribers! Let's keep the conversation going.

A Good, Clean Joke In a certain suburban neighborhood, there were two brothers, 8 and 10 years old, who were exceedingly mischievous. Whatever went wrong in the neighborhood, it turned out they had had a hand in it. Their parents were at their wit's end trying to control them. Hearing about a priest nearby who worked with delinquent boys, the mother suggested to the father that they ask the priest to talk with the boys. The father replied, "Sure, do that before I kill them!" The mother went to the priest and made her request. He agreed, but said he wanted to see the younger boy first and alone. So the mother sent him to the priest. The priest sat the boy down across a huge, impressive desk he sat behind. For about five minutes they just sat and stared at each other. Finally, the priest pointed his forefinger at the boy and asked, "Where is God?" The boy looked under the desk, in the corners of the room, all around, but said nothing. Again, louder, the priest pointed at the boy and asked, "Where is God?" Again the boy looked all around but said nothing. A third time, in a louder, firmer voice, the priest leaned far across the desk and put his forefinger almost to the boy's nose, and asked, "Where is God?" The boy panicked and ran all the way home. Finding his older brother, he dragged him upstairs to their room and into the closet, where they usually plotted their mischief. He finally said, "We are in BIG trouble!" The older boy asked, "What do you mean, BIG trouble?" His brother replied, "God is missing and they think we did it." ever!

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Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves. -Gandhi

The other day I got upset over something silly that triggered difficult feelings with deep roots from my past.

In short, someone I love made a reasonable request that, for various reasons, I didnt want to honor, partly because I felt this person wasnt taking my feelings into account. But I had no good reason to suspect this.

I thought this because its a pattern for me.

For most of my young life, I believed my needs wouldnt be met if I didnt push and fight for them.

I saw everything as a battleit was everyone else against me. Though Ive learned to see others as on my side, and I know that Im on theirs, I still worry that people arent looking out for me at times.

In the aftermath of this recent altercation, I talked through my feelings with my boyfriend.

I told him I understood my emotional response, and I knew where it came fromwhen I first felt this way and why and how its been a pattern in my life.

Then I posed a question: In recognizing where and how I learned this behavior, am I blaming people and circumstances from my past or merely being self-aware? What, exactly, is the difference?

I think its an important question to ask, because weve all been wronged before.

We do ourselves a disservice if we sit around blaming other people for our maladaptive reactions and behaviors, but sometimes were better able to change when we understand how we developed in response to former relationships and prior events.

Ive spent a lot of time learning to let go of victim stories, which is a big part of why I dont write about some of the most painful events of my life. Still, for better or for worse, they shaped who I am.

When I allow myself to look back and acknowledge wrong-doing, I reinforce to myself that I did not deserve to be mistreated, and that its not my fault that I struggle in certain ways as a result.

I know, however, that it is my responsibility to change my responses and behaviors. And that, right there, is the difference between self-awareness and self-victimization.

Self-awareness allows us to understand whats going on in our heads and why; self-victimization prevents us from accepting that were responsible for it, and for what we do as a result.

Expanding on this train of thought, self-victimization includes:

As someone whos done all of these things in the past, I can attest that this is often the result of immense pain.

Sometimes we play the victim because we were victims. We learned that we didnt have control and then adapted to that. Because we once felt powerless, we learned to give our power away.

On the other side of the spectrum, self-empowerment includes:

This requires self-awareness, which brings me back to my initial question:

What does self-awareness look like, when it involves acknowledging pain from the pastand how does it differ from self-victimization?

Self-awareness includes:

The fundamental difference between self-awareness and self-victimization, when it pertains to acknowledging weve been hurt: Self-awareness is about observing our response to what happened; self-victimization is about feeding into the story of what happened.

This isnt always easy to do. Sometimes the mere act of remembering something painful can bring up all kinds of old feelings. It helps if we learn to immediately redirect our thoughts to a positive, empowering affirmation.

This means that next time I find myself questioning whether the other person really has best interests at heart, when I have no reason to believe they dont, I can tell myself something like this:

I give people I love the benefit of the doubt. I release my instinctive emotional response from the deepest root cause and do my part to create happy relationships.

In changing my thoughts, I can change my feelings and then effectively redirect my actions.

This process can apply to all kinds of unhealthy relationship patterns that stem from former relationships, but it requires us to work at developing self-awareness.

One way we can do this is by journaling about our feelings and triggersif, for example, you tend to feel mistrusting, or defensive, or angry when specific events occurand then come up with affirmations to use when we get caught up in those patterns.

Some examples of situations and affirmations:

If you frequently mistrust someonesolely becausesomeone else formerly abused your trust, you could use this affirmation when those old feelings arise:

This is a new relationship. I release my instinctive emotional response from the deepest root cause, and accept that I can change it and improve my relationship by trusting.

If you frequently feel guilty in your relationship, in large part because you were emotionally abused in a former one, you could use this affirmation when those old feelings arise (assuming youre in a healthy relationship now):

I choose not to blame myself. I release my instinctive emotional response from the deepest root cause, and free myself from shame and self-judgment.

Whatever the pattern, we can challenge it and eventually change it by changing our thoughts and beliefs.

If were willing to be self-aware, we can empower ourselves, and transform our relationships and in our lives in the process.

Two great, related resources:

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"I am in total awe. I started this course cynical as a lawyer from New York, and from the very first session it has changed my life in ways that I could not even imagined before. I am happier and much more in touch with myself."

~ Jim L.(Originally joined because of his fianc)

"I have been meditating & practicing numerous spiritual courses, workshops and training for over 2 decades, but have never experienced anything like this. This is the most powerful trans-formation I have ever experienced, and I am so much more connected, happy & at peace."

~ Brian D.(CPA & very busy)

"I feel so much more connected with God and myself, I get excited and blissful about life and feel so much more love and compassion; I almost didnt take the course because I was so busy, but I am SO glad I did."

~ Christine A.(Marketing Executive)

"My meditations are incredible and my zest for life has returned. I feel truly blessed."

~ Scott Cahoy(Costa Rica)

"Yesterday, I was deeper in meditation than I ever have been. WOW...I am in a state of metamorphosis, The way I see the world we live in and how I handle day to day tasks have changed. The benefits have been wonderful."

~ Ann Koopman, WA

"Thank you both for helping me to create such profound peace, love and change in my life. Your gift of yourself and your teachings are a blessing to all you touch.

"The retreat was wonderful. I look forward to growing and learning with you and of course seeing you in October."

Blessings and love,

Debbie Tray

MayaTalum Mexico June 2008

"Since I started your 12 week course, my life continues to become even more magical and wondrous. My healing work, seminars, and overall abundance have greatly increased and so have my abilities to help people. I want to thank you for being there to teach, guide and "amp up the joy factor" for me."

Beth Milton, CA

Self Realization Course 2008

"I loved your talk, last night, on the Ancient Wisdom. I felt myself nodding in agreement with many of the statements you made, as if I knew this at a deeper level and you were reminding me of these truths. Many of the things you shared resonated with me at such a deep level... Thank you for your love and your insights and sharing so freely."

Lynda Bancroft, Canada

Looking For God Lecture Series: Ancient Wisdom 2008

"Oh my Gosh!! I am doing -- Being better than I ever have before. Every day is just like my birthday, literally or Christmas. I am LOVING life and the more I meditate the better it gets! The better it gets, the better it gets, the better it gets. Full of love... thank you for your love and guidance, you are a miracle in my life... Blessings and love to you!!"

Lisa Mirante

Post Self Realization Course

2008

SAI Co-Founders with Shivabalayogi

"My meditation has never been so good. Shakti usually came in from crown and 3rd eye very strong, thick, and peaceful. I can stay in a meditated state during the day."

~ Chairon Chow, NJ

"Thank you so much for the meditation experience on Thursday night, I am so relaxed after each experience and I am beginning to see and feel clarity in the activities of my day. Thanks again."

~ Katie, IL

"I continue to meditate an hour a day. It keeps me grounded and in peace. I am enjoying your Sunday calls in the Graduate Program..."

~ Jaqueline Witt, CA

"I have had an amazing shift in my life since beginning to use your meditations. I have recommended them to my friends. I have been newly diagnosed with chronic Lyme and the pain and fatigue I had is no longer present. I truly feel joy. I'm joyful that I have connected with you."

~ Blessings, Ann

"The transformation that has occurred in me the last few months is unbelievable. From habits that have naturally shifted to implementing new things that I never thought possible. Not only within me but the way that I have affected other people is amazing. My mom is reading your Self Realization book and she is totally getting into it too. I'm connecting with her at a new level and that is doing wonders for our relationship. Honored to be involved with you!"

~ Alex Herrera, CA

"Thank you for Sunday morning's Graduate telephone class. Every time I'm discouraged that I'll never 'GET this', you come to me with such wise teachings that I can't help but come away with deeper understanding and trust that I am making progress, despite my fears and feelings of being a wimp at times. I am so grateful to you for the Shaktipat that you shower out to the world which graces my Being. May you receive a Universe full of blessings and love"

~ Beverly, Colorado

The nextSelf Realization Course begins.

Saturday,September 27that 10:00 am PST.

The Self Realization Course is a12 week advanced intensivetraining in Shaktipat, Jhana, Dhyana and Kundalini meditation with Steven S. Sadleir, founder of the Self Awareness Institute. Everything is energy, the Life Force or Spirit within you IS you. To realize the true nature of your Self, to realize God, to find true happiness and peace in live in grace, you have only to go within and connect - it's making your heart beat right now. It's guiding you to read this.

Steven teaches you how to tune into first your ownlife forceorspiritual energyand consciousness, and then how to develop it - to raise your calibrated level of consciousness to Samadhi and experience, first, the blissful states, then beyond to full realization. You have only to connect with thisShakti within you, and Steven has shown thousands over the phone! Because we are all connected in and by spirit, it does not matter where your physical body is, when you sit at home and call in, or Skype in, you can naturally tune in.

Similar to how the antenna in your cell phone or car radio picks up invisibles transmissions, when you are on the class calls with Steven you will pick up an energy transmission - Shaktipat - andyour body will begin to attune, register with this signal, and gradually move into these higher blissful states. Here the answers come - from within you. Love, peace and joy, come up like a sprinkler of light.

Each week to attune to a higher level, you can actually feel your energy shifting and peace bubbling up from within. During the week you can further this feeling and learn to tune in while not on a call by playing one of the many meditations or satsangs (class calls). So meditation is easy, you just listen and be guided until you want to just sit in silence. You will want to sit, it feels so good. Shaktipat gives you a natural high or bliss.

In addition to theweekly calls, you will also receive viaemail a Preceptor lesson that's just a few pages in a PDF file, so you can download and read about what you are experiencing. The whole science of the Self is explained. Plus you are given a new tool each week, so by the end of the 12 weeks you have a whole "meditation tool kit" to help you deal with real life situations. You will learn to take control of your mind, emotions and behaviors, and a shift from negativity to positivity naturally occurs as you practice.

You will also receive aphone messagefrom Steven each week for moral support, and to personalize the experience. Each week during class Steven makes time to speak to all the students and answers any questions they might have. So the students in the Self Realization Course have VIP access to Steven. These classes are always conducted in small groups so each student can have some time and be heard.

Completion of the Self Realization Course "graduates" the students to advanced courses and trainings. At the end of the 12 weeks you can't help but feel a transformative shift in your life. Even if you've been meditating for years, the exchange of spiritual energy with Steven will build up your own, like having a personal trainer for higher consciousness and making your "aura" bigger and you spiritually stronger. You start glowing. But you have to be ready, and committed.

Each course is conducted in a small group so each individual can get personal attention and he benefit of a class environment. Everyone in rapid acceleration helps everyone, and the more personalized instruction enables you to make breakthroughs. The tuition for this three months course is $1,500. Spouses included.

Group rates also available at 30% off.

If you have any questions or would like to pay in full or by other means email If you have any questions or would like to pay in full or by other means email info@SelfAwareness.com You You can also callBev at 949-355-3249949-355-3249, but she may have to call you back so email typically works best.

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Self-Realization-Course - Self Awareness Institute

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September 14th, 2015 at 5:03 am

Posted in Self-Awareness

Mirror test – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The mirror test, sometimes called the mark test or the mirror self-recognition test (MSR), is a behavioural technique developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether a non-human animal possesses the ability of self-recognition.[1] The MSR test is the traditional method, or "gold-standard" of measuring self-awareness[2][3]"the sense that one is an individual separate from the environment".[4]

Very few species have passed the MSR test. As of 2015, only the great apes (excluding gorillas), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins and potentially other cetaceans, the Eurasian magpie, and some ants, have passed the MSR test. A wide range of species have been reported to fail the test including gorillas, several monkey species, giant pandas, sea lions, pigeons and dogs.

Similar observations are used as an indicator of entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology.

In 1970, Gordon Gallup, Jr., experimentally investigated the possibility of self-recognition with two male and two female wild pre-adolescent chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), none of which had presumably seen a mirror previously. Each chimpanzee was put into a room by itself for two days. Next, a full-length mirror was placed in the room for a total of 80 hours at periodically decreasing distances. A multitude of behaviors were recorded upon introducing the mirrors to the chimpanzees. Initially, the chimpanzees made threatening gestures at their own images, ostensibly seeing their own reflections as threatening. Eventually, the chimps used their own reflections for self-directed responding behaviors, such as grooming parts of their body previously not observed without a mirror, picking their noses, making faces, and blowing bubbles at their own reflections.

Gallup expanded the study by manipulating the chimpanzees' appearance and observing their reaction to their reflection in the mirror. Gallup anaesthetised the chimpanzees and then painted a red alcohol-soluble dye on the eyebrow ridge and on the top half of the opposite ear. When the dye dried, it had virtually no olfactory or tactile cues. Gallup then returned the chimpanzees to the cage (with the mirror removed) and allowed them to regain full consciousness. He then recorded the frequency which the chimpanzees spontaneously touched the marked areas of skin. After 30 minutes, the mirror was re-introduced into the room and the frequency of touching the marked areas again determined. The frequency of touching increased to 4-10 with the mirror present compared to only 1 when the mirror had been removed. The chimpanzees sometimes inspected their fingers visually or olfactorily after touching the marks. Other mark-directed behavior includes turning and adjusting of the body to better view the mark in the mirror, or tactile examination of the mark with an appendage while viewing the mirror.[1]

Animals that are considered to be able to recognise themselves in a mirror typically progress through four stages of behavior when facing a mirror:[5]

Gallup conducted a follow-up study in which two chimpanzees with no prior experience of a mirror were anaesthetised, marked and observed. After recovery, they made no mark-directed behaviours either before or after being provided with a mirror.[citation needed]

The inspiration for the mirror test comes from an anecdote about Charles Darwin and a captive orangutan. While visiting the London Zoo in 1838, Darwin observed an orangutan, named Jenny, throwing a tantrum after being teased with an apple by her keeper. This started him thinking about the subjective experience of an orangutan.[6] He also watched Jenny gaze into a mirror and noted the possibility that she recognized herself in the reflection.[7]

A large number of studies using a wide range of species have investigated the occurrence of spontaneous, mark-directed behavior when given a mirror, as originally proposed by Gallup. Most marked animals given a mirror initially respond with social behavior, such as aggressive displays, and continue to do so during repeated testing. However, only a small number of species have touched or directed behavior toward the mark, thereby passing the MSR test.

Findings are not always conclusive. Even in chimpanzees, the species most studied and with the most convincing findings, clear-cut evidence of self-recognition is not obtained in all individuals tested.[8] Prevalence is about 75% in young adults and considerably less in young and aging individuals.[9]

Until the study on magpies, self-recognition was thought to reside in the neocortex area of the brain, however, this is absent in birds. Self-recognition in birds and mammals may be a case of convergent evolution, where similar evolutionary pressures result in similar behaviors or traits, although they arrive at them via different routes and the underlying mechanism may be different.[24]

A range of species have been subjected to the MSR test but have failed to show any pattern of self-recognition behaviour. These include the -

The MSR test has been criticized for several reasons, in particular, because it may result in false negatives.[24]

The MSR test may be of limited value when applied to species that primarily use senses other than vision.[38][verification needed] For example, dogs mainly use olfaction and audition; vision is used only third. It is suggested this is why dogs fail the MSR test. (With this in mind, the biologist Marc Bekoff developed a scent-based paradigm using dog urine to test self-recognition in canines.[18][38] He tested his own dog, but his results were inconclusive.[39])

Another concern with the MSR test is that some species quickly respond aggressively to their mirror reflection as if it were a threatening conspecific thereby preventing the animal to calmly consider what the reflection actually represents. It has been suggested this is the reason why gorillas and monkeys fail the MSR test.[4][40]

In a MSR test, animals may not recognize the mark as abnormal, or, may not be sufficiently motivated to react to it. However, this does not mean they are unable to recognise themselves. For example, in a MSR test conducted on three elephants, only one elephant passed the test but the two elephants that failed still demonstrated behaviours that can be interpreted as self-recognition. The researchers commented that the elephants might not have touched the mark because it was not important enough to them.[41] Similarly, lesser apes infrequently engage in self-grooming, which may explain their failure to touch a mark on their head in the mirror test.[24]

A fundamental aspect of the mark-test is that the mark/dye is non-tactile. This is the reason why animals in the classical uses of the test are anesthetized. If the animal is marked with a tactile mark, it potentially has a perceptual cue to the mark, therefore confounding the study.[42]

Primates, other than the great apes, have so far universally failed the mirror test. However, mirror tests with three species of Gibbon (Hylobates syndactylus, H.gabriellae, H. leucogenys) have shown convincing evidence of self-recognition despite the fact that the animals failed the standard version of the mirror test.[43]

Rhesus macaques have failed the MSR test, but use mirrors to study otherwise-hidden parts of their bodies, such as their genitals and the implants in their heads. It has been suggested this demonstrates at least a partial self-awareness, although this is disputed.[44]

Pigs can use visual information seen in a mirror to find food, and show evidence of self-recognition when presented with their reflection. In an experiment, 7 of the 8 pigs tested were able to find a bowl of food hidden behind a wall and revealed using a mirror. The eighth pig looked behind the mirror for the food.[45] BBC earth also showed the foodbowl test, and the "matching shapes to holes" test, in the Extraordinary Animals series.[46]

Pigeons are capable of passing a highly modified mirror test, but only after extensive training.[47][48] In the experiment, a pigeon was trained to look in a mirror to find a response key behind it, which the pigeon then turned to peckfood was the consequence of a correct choice (i.e., the pigeon learned to use a mirror to find critical elements of its environment). Next, the pigeon was trained to peck at dots placed on its feathers; food was, again, the consequence of touching the dot. The latter training was accomplished in the absence of the mirror. The final test was placing a small bib on the pigeonenough to cover a dot placed on its lower belly. A control period without the mirror present yielded no pecking at the dot. When the mirror was revealed, the pigeon became active, looked in the mirror and then tried to peck on the dot under the bib. However, untrained pigeons have never passed the mirror test.[3]

The rouge test is a specific version of the mirror test used with children.[49] Using rouge makeup, an experimenter surreptitiously places a dot on the nose and/or face of the child. The child is then placed in front of a mirror and their reactions are monitored; depending on the child's development, distinct categories of responses are demonstrated. This test is widely cited as the primary measure for mirror self-recognition in human children.[50][51][52]

From the age of 6 to 12 months, the child typically sees a "sociable playmate" in the mirror's reflection. Self-admiring and embarrassment usually begin at 12 months, and at 14 to 20 months most children demonstrate avoidance behaviors.[49] Finally, at 18 months half of children recognize the reflection in the mirror as their own[50] and by 20 to 24 months self-recognition climbs to 65%. Children do so by evincing mark-directed behavior; they touch their own nose and/or try to wipe the mark off.[49]

It appears that self-recognition in mirrors is independent of familiarity with reflecting surfaces.[51] In some cases the rouge test has been shown to have differing results, depending on sociocultural orientation. For example, a Cameroonian Nso sample of infants 18 to 20 months of age had an extremely low amount of self-recognition outcomes at 3.2%. The study also found two strong predictors of self-recognition: object stimulation (maternal effort of attracting the attention of the infant to an object either person touched) and mutual eye contact.[53] A strong correlation between self-concept and object permanence have also been demonstrated using the rouge test.[54]

The rouge test is a measure of self-concept; the child who touches the rouge on his or her own nose upon looking into a mirror demonstrates the basic ability to understand global awareness[citation needed]. Animals,[38] young children,[19] and people who have their sight restored after being blind from birth,[18] sometimes react to their reflection in the mirror as though it were another individual[citation needed].

Theorists have remarked on the significance of this period in a child's life. For example, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan used a similar test in marking the mirror stage when growing up.[55] Current views of the self in psychology position the self as playing an integral part in human motivation, cognition, affect, and social identity.[52]

There is some debate as to the interpretation of the results of the mirror test,[38] and researchers in one study have identified some potential problems with the test as a means of gauging self-awareness in young children.[56]

Proposing that a self-recognizing child may not demonstrate mark-directed behavior because they are not motivated to clean up their faces, thus providing incorrect results, the study compared results of the standard rouge test methodology against a modified version of the test.[56]

In the classic test, the experimenter first played with the children, making sure that they looked in the mirror at least three times. Then, the rouge test was performed using a dot of rouge below the child's right eye. For their modified testing, the experimenter introduced a doll with a rouge spot under its eye and asked the child to help clean the doll. The experimenter would ask up to three times before cleaning the doll themselves. The doll was then put away, and the mirror test performed using a rouge dot on the child's face. These modifications were shown to increase the number of self-recognizers.[56]

The results uncovered by this study at least suggest some issues with the classic mirror test; primarily, that it assumes that children will recognize the dot of rouge as abnormal and attempt to examine or remove it. The classic test may have produced false negatives, because the child's recognition of the dot did not lead to them cleaning it. In their modified test, in which the doll was cleaned first, they found a stronger relationship between cleaning the doll's face and the child cleaning its own face. The demonstration with the doll, postulated to demonstrate to the children what to do, may lead to more reliable confirmation of self-recognition.[56]

On a more general level, it remains debatable whether recognition of one's mirror image implies self-awareness.[56]

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Mirror test - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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September 14th, 2015 at 5:03 am

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Self-Compassion: Why it’s Important and How you Can Practice It

Posted: October 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm


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Bad days are a fact of life, no matter who you are and what your circumstances might be. Sometimes, bad things happen and you just can't control them—but what you can control is whether or not you react by turning the negativity inwards. As a society we tend to think that self-criticism is what keeps us motivated, and while that can indeed be a source of motivation to do better, it's a strategy that also reduces self-esteem, increases anxiety, and can ultimately lead to a depressed mental state. On the other hand, self-compassion is linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, and higher self-esteem. People who practice self-compassion feel freer—to take risks, to try new things, to explore the world—because they allow themselves to fail and to make mistakes, without judging themselves and without feeling ashamed. Self-compassion isn't a skill that comes naturally, but it's one that can be learned, and can bring amazing benefits.

What is Self-Compassion?

Associate Professor Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin—author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind—writes that self-compassion is made up of three different components:

  • Kindness—being kind, gentle, and understanding with yourself when you're in physical or emotional pain. Recognizing that failure, pain, and suffering are inevitable facts of life, and that it's healthier to react with loving kindness than with self-hate.

  • Humanity—the recognition that everyone struggles. In times of strife, we feel isolated and alone, and but recognizing our common humanity reminds us that everyone makes mistakes and feels pain. This allows us to feel less judgmental of ourselves; everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has personal faults, and mistakes and faults don't make you a terrible person.

  • Mindfulness—the process of consciously observing what happens in your life without judgment, and without avoiding or suppressing your emotions and thoughts. It also means putting your pain into perspective. Rather than allowing yourself to get carried away with negativity, you'll feel and acknowledge pain, and move past it.

There are a lot of myths about what self-compassion is—that it's about self-pity, or self-involvement, or that it encourages people to ignore responsibilities. In fact, self-compassion is the opposite of self-pity. When someone is in a self-pitying state, they're so immersed in their struggle that they forget that they're not alone in that struggle; self-compassion, on the other hand, recognizes that struggle and suffering are something that everyone goes through, and it's that struggle that connects us to the rest of the world, even when we feel isolated. It's that connection that helps you put your problems into a more realistic perspective, and while self-compassion allows you to acknowledge your own suffering, it also reminds you that you're not alone in it.

Self-compassion also doesn't encourage people to ignore responsibilities or become self-indulgent—again, it's the exact opposite. It simply means that you support yourself, and far from being complacent, it encourages you to change whatever behavior you're perpetuating that's making you feel unhappy or unhealthy. For example, if you're constantly engaging in negative self-talk, then practicing self-compassion encourages you to find ways of reframing negative thoughts. If you're engaging in physically unhealthy behavior, self-compassion encourages you to find ways to reduce the unhealthy behavior, or take care of yourself physically to reduce its negative effects. The key is that when you're practicing self-compassion, you don't judge yourself for engaging in unhealthy behavior, whether or not you're actively trying to change it.

How to Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is an easy concept to understand, but it's hard to practice, and even harder to master. It's a natural reaction to respond to bad moments with negativity, and for many of us it's just as natural to turn those bad feelings inwards and use them to attack your own self-worth. The solution is self-compassion and kindness, and learning how to take control of the negative thoughts to reframe them into something positive.

Perhaps the most important and useful general rule is to treat yourself like your own best friend. Most of us are much harsher on ourselves than we'd ever be on a friend or family member, and we say things to or about ourselves that we'd never say to someone else. When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, try to reframe what you're saying as though you're saying it to your best friend—someone you love very much, and whom you don't want to hurt—and always try to remember that you deserve that same level of compassion and kindness. There are many ways to practice being kinder to yourselfwhether it's with self-care routines for cheering yourself up on bad days, or learning strategies for combating negative thoughts. For example, you can try guided meditation, positive affirmations, or comfort yourself physically with gestures that “take you out of your head” by engaging your physical self. If some of the tried-and-true strategies don't work for, you, don't worry—there's no single "right" thing to do; it's all about what works for you.

Acknowledge your mistakes, and then let them go. It's human nature to bring up old memories of embarrassing moments and errors—things we said or did that we wish we hadn't, errors in judgment, and times when we didn't live up to expectations—and spend far too long internally obsessing over them. While it's virtually impossible to stop yourself from bringing up old memories, you can resolve to think of your past self more kindly when it does happen.

Focus on growth, rather than improvement. Framing personal development as self-improvement can be a subtle way of telling yourself that you're not okay the way you are. Growth is a much more neutral term, because it doesn't imply that there's anything wrong with your current state.

Don't rush yourself or try to force things you're not ready for. Personal growth doesn't need to be rapid, or even consistent—often it's a case of one step forward and two steps back, and sometimes it's just about standing still to appreciate where you are and how far you've come.

References

http://www.psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/27/5-strategies-for-self-compassion/

http://www.vitalaffirmations.com/affirmations.htm

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201202/why-caring-yourself-makes-all-the-difference

 


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