Developing Self-Awareness The 5 Stages of Awareness Mastery

Posted: August 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm


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Developing self awareness The 5 stages of awareness mastery

When I was young I remember listening to my elders promulgating that knowledge is power.

Learn, my child, they used to say, for knowledge makes you smart and smart people have a chance to thrive in this world we inhabit.

Their words sounded vague to my callow ears. What is the knowledge they are referring to? Knowledge of mathematics? Knowledge of physics? Knowledge of languages? Street knowledge? Knowledge of human relationships?

Unable to properly fathom their equivocal advice, I grew up to become a generalist. That is a person with a wide array of useful knowledge. Although I did complete my studies in Electrical Engineering and Business, I didnt choose to specialize in them. I preferred to use them as a stepping-stone to acquire more knowledge. Knowledge that could help me achieve generalist status.

I did that hoping that a generalist reality can grant me access to a huge network of information that will allow me to view reality from a holistic perspective. For I thought that this was the secret to decoding the hidden message of the knowledge is power adage. I thought that this was my only good chance of finally understanding.

I cant really say that I regret my decision. The generalist pathway urges you to delve into different topics and, eventually, try to develop an interdisciplinary approach when it comes to thinking. I started to think in systems and this mode of cognition led me to deeper states of consciousness that challenged the way I interpreted the world. I became more aware of my own existence, my own limitations, and my own potential.

And thats when it dawned on me.

The elders were right, but not right enough.

In their quest for knowledge, bewildered by its intimidating nature, they ignored the true essence of what knowledges purpose actually is.

Knowledge is indeed power. But the path from knowledge to power is not immediate. There is a succession of steps one needs to follow and it could be summarized in the following sequence:

Knowledge -> Awareness -> Control -> Power

Knowledge breeds awareness. That is the consumption of knowledge leads to a collection of wisdom nuggets that, when properly construed, can raise awareness. Awareness is the ability of the individual to make sense of oneself and, consequently, of the world around him. Once this process manifests itself, one is able to transition from a state of cluelessness and incompetence to a state of control and power. For power transpires when you focus on things you can control. And you can control only what you can understand what you are aware of.

So the imperative word here is not knowledge, but awareness.

Allowing oneself to embrace this word and immerse into the totality of its nucleus is akin to allowing oneself to become totally free. For awareness has always been the key to a life defined by clarity, intent, and cohesion.

Apropos, there is a path that one needs to follow in order to properly grasp what constitutes awareness and where its real potency lies. And this path I endeavor to lay out today.

In the following paragraphs, I will examine 5 stages one needs to cover in order to develop extreme self-awareness. For awareness does not develop overnight. It is a gradually evolving process that is predicated upon the willingness of the individual to battle through the obstacles encountered in every stage.

The major issue young people face and have always been facing is cluelessness and incompetence. Empirical investigation has led me to believe that the reason for that is twofold and has little to do with intelligence or experience.

The two major forces that enforce this circumstance are the education system and the development of our frontal cortex.

A brief history of how modern education came about (you can read the detailed summary here) reveals that from the 17th century onwards the purpose of school was to create better workers, not better humans. Employers in industry viewed school as a means to teach future employees the rules of punctuality, following directions, tolerance for long hours of tedious work, and a minimal ability to read and write. On top of that, as nations became more centralized, national leaders saw a great chance in schooling to lay the foundations for the facilitation of future patriots and soldiers.

In essence, the school was not a place where the child could enjoy a holistic education and develop a healthy personality. It was more like a prison where he or she would, eventually, lose his or her identity, become a virtual nonentity and blend into the uniformity of collectivism.

Prolific biologist Robert Sapolsky revealed in one of his lectures something groundbreaking: The frontal cortex is the last part of the brain to fully develop.

The red part is the prefrontal cortex Wikipedia

On average, the frontal cortex manages to completely mature at the age of 25. This astonishing finding postulates two things:

If we take into account these two factors and combine them with the proclivity of humans to, usually, choose the path of least resistance when it comes to action taking, we find ourselves in a very unfavorable situation. Developing self awareness under such circumstances becomes a far-fetched goal. We end up with a huge amount of the population feeling not only clueless about who they are but also lacking the necessary context that would empower them to discover their individual constitution.

Nonetheless, the first stage is possible to overcome, firstly if the individual understands his or her limitations and secondly by methodically accruing knowledge relevant to the alleviation of these limitations.

How to stop feeling clueless: Patience is key here and when coupled with an incessant tendency to question conventional wisdom, it can produce extremely interesting outcomes. My suggestion would be to delve into the fundamentals of personal growth and attempt to internalize them. Such fundamentals include: Meditation, working out, improving productivity, improving social skills, to name but a few. 30 Challenges 30 Days Zero Excuses is a great place to start.

The prominent maxim know thyself has been echoing through history since its first usage by Plato in his dialogues. There are at least six instances during which Plato employs the maxim, and in every one of them he does so in order to stress out the importance of self-discovery in the development of the individual.

Plato Wikipedia

Although the context in each instance is different, the rationale remains the same. A self-aware individual is a conscious individual. Individuals who cant partake in the process of self-exploration will systematically fall victim to their own lack of awareness and to the ramifications that such a state begets. Some of the ramifications include:

Essentially, a lack of self-awareness is the main source of dogmatism in society today. Sam Harris, during one of his podcasts, while examining why dogmatism can ruin a persons life, stated beautifully:

The state of being dogmatic is the state of believing in things strongly, despite an absence of evidence or even in the face of counter evidence. That is the state of having no error-correcting mechanisms in your worldview. Youre simply not available to reality and you will continually bump into hard objects wherever you go.

Sam Harris Wikipedia

Humans will always seek to belong and this lust for tribalism can often yield friction within society. Most people who cling to certain (usually extreme) ideologies do so because they havent sorted themselves out. The absence of a strong individual identity destabilizes the substrate of their being and they are constantly in the look for more stable worlds to grab onto. These stable worlds are often dogmatic worlds that reject certain aspects of reality in an attempt to deal successfully with its innately chaotic nature. Religions, political movements, cults, extremist groups, all fall in that category and are there to remind us what a lack of self-awareness can engender.

In a way, people who belong in these groups are manifestations of a persons inability to face the concept of the shadow as Carl Jung put it forth.

Carl Jung Wikipedia

The shadow is the unknown dark side of our personality. Dark because it is very obscure and also because we need to dig very deep within our psyche in order to discover it. It is a conglomeration of all our fears, desires and impulses like sexual lust, power strivings, selfishness, greed, envy, anger or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature it operates in a subconscious level. A person can never reach the state of self-actualization if they havent managed to face the shadow until they can understand it, deal with it, and eventually internalize it.

Plato also pointed out that understanding thyself, would also result to a greater understanding of the nature of a human being. Syllogistically, understanding oneself would enable a person to form an understanding of others as a result. Which is our next stage.

How to understand yourself: In order to understand yourself, first you need to understand your past and how your past affects your present and your future. The operative word here is past, but I use it to allude to both our past as individuals, but also to our past as species. From an individuals perspective, psychoanalysis is the most pertinent tool one can use to explore certain aspects of their personality. Major events in your past have played a critical role in shaping your persona. Going back to these events, facing them and creating associations with current ones can significantly raise self-understanding. From a species perspective, humans are a work of evolution in progress and our current state cant be fathomed if we dont examine closely the practices and habits of our ancestors and draw parallels to current behavioral patterns.

The complexity of our social fabric is an omnipresent conundrum across the span of our lives. We are egotistical creatures that perpetually try to balance individuality with togetherness. Usually, we fail dramatically in that attempt but it doesnt always need to be that way.

The way a person forms their understanding of social dynamics is fostered during childhood and depends largely on the way the upbringing functions. Within the household, a child can get a glimpse of how real society operates and adopt certain characteristics that will help him or her transition smoothly from the microcosm of his or her family to the wilderness of the real world.

Therein the child develops an intuitive ability to interact and cooperate with others. Hence most people make judgments about others based on intuition. Intuition is indeed a powerful skill but alone is not enough. It can offer a rough understanding of social patterns, but if you want to understand the mechanics deeply, you need to enhance your social repertoire with more skills.

In that respect, I am going to briefly touch upon three major areas one needs to be aware of:

Our perception is usually confined within the limits that our ego dictates. We are raised to think individually and not syllogistically. That process seriously hinders our capacity to understand and cooperate with fellow humans and our ability to form mutually beneficial connections suffers dramatically.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is the process that leads to a complete re-engineering of a persons worldview since it can offer them a completely new perspective on life.

Cultivating empathy is the first step into unweaving the mysterious entanglement that encompasses our social life.

Humans are evolved primates with an extremely sophisticated set of cognitive tools. The way, however, our social structures are formed rely more on power rather than sophistication. For years we have attempted to evolve our social edifice from a dominance hierarchy to a more egalitarian constitution. For years we have failed miserably to do so.

That reality is a result of an eclectic amalgamation of reasons such as cultural discrepancies, environmental influences, intelligence, tribalism, nepotism and a general lack of affinity towards forming collective views. It seems that, on average, our primitive mind tends to dominate our more rational one and the future doesnt look much promising in that respect.

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Developing Self-Awareness The 5 Stages of Awareness Mastery

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Written by grays |

August 2nd, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness