Awareness 101: How To Be Self-Aware

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Why This Is Worth Reading

To improve ourselves at all, we must be perceptive of ourselves

To make changes, we must perceive ourselves

  • Awareness is the first start to anything we want to consciously change
  • Without self-awareness, we let fear guide our lives, which makes sense in the short-term
    • Fearful people are more inclined to focus on safety, which can sometimes reduce risk
    • Distrust focuses on others’ faults, which can protect them
    • If someone is afraid of losing something, they work harder to keep it
  • Awareness of anything else starts with the self, since we are most familiar with our own bodies and minds than anyone or anything else

Most people are afraid of improbable things, and this ordered list shows that:

  • Attacked by a shark – 1 in 300,000,000
  • Injury by roller coaster – 1 in 300,000,000
  • Contracting mad cow disease – 1 in 40,000,000
  • Death by food poisoning – 1 in 3,000,000
  • Struck by lightning – 1 in 2,300,000
  • Death by constipation – 1 in 2,215,900
  • Injury by spider’s bite – 1 in 716,010
  • Injury by a meteorite – 1 in 700,000
  • Death from drowning in a bathtub – 1 in 685,000
  • Winning an Olympic medal – 1 in 662,000
  • Getting a royal flush in poker – 1 in 649,740
  • Death by fireworks – 1 in 615,488
  • Death by a tsunami – 1 in 500,000
  • Death by an asteroid impact – 1 in 500,000
  • Death by choking on food – 1 in 370,000
  • Bitten by dog – 1 in 147,717
  • Death by spousal murder – 1 in 135,000
  • Death by an earthquake – 1 in 131,890
  • Death by venomous bite or sting – 1 in 100,000
  • Death by skydiving accident – 1 in 100,000
  • Death by a terrorist attack – 1 in 88,000
  • Death by lightning strike – 1 in 83,930
  • Injury by falling, jumping or being pushed from a high place – 1 in 65,092
  • Death by tornado – 1 in 60,000
  • Death by legal execution – 1 in 58,618
  • Death from playing American football – 1 in 50,000
  • Death by floods (#1 natural disaster) – 1 in 30,000
  • Injury from fireworks – 1 in 20,000
  • Death by air trouble accident – 1 in 20,000
  • Finding a pearl in an oyster – 1 in 12,000
  • Getting a perfect score of 300 in bowling – 1 in 11,500
  • Injury by toilet – 1 in 10,000
  • Death by drowning – 1 in 6,162
  • Death by electrocution – 1 in 5,000
  • Getting a hole in one in golf – 1 in 5,000
  • Death by bicycle accident – 1 in 4,717
  • Injury while mowing lawn – 1 in 3,623
  • Death by any natural forces – 1 in 3,357
  • Injury by firearm – 1 in 2,500
  • Death by fire or smoke (~50% from smoke) – 1 in 1,454
  • Complications from medical or surgical care – 1 in 1,170
  • Assault by firearm – 1 in 358
  • Death by being murdered – 1 in 300
  • Accidental poisoning (includes drugs, alcohol & vapors) – 1 in 281
  • IRS audit – 1 in 250
  • Death from falling down – 1 in 246
  • Victim of assault – 1 in 214
  • Having identity stolen – 1 in 200
  • Death by intentional self-harm – 1 in 121
  • Death by motor vehicle accident – 1 in 113
  • Death by accidental injury (all accidents) – 1 in 36
  • Death by stroke – 1 in 23
  • Death by cancer – 1 in 7
  • Death by heart disease – 1 in 5
  • Death by hayflick limit – ~125 years

Fear-based thinking has long-term downsides, even if it has a short-term benefit

  • More stress due to constant fear of loss
  • Less connection with others
  • More frequently ignored needs
  • Less consideration for all the elements in a situation
  • Much harder to be a loving person
    • We can only see others as thoroughly as we see ourselves
    • We are incapable of perceiving others’ needs more than ours
    • Love extends the perspective of meeting our own needs over to what other people need

All of your senses contribute to consciousness

  • There are many, many senses beyond the five popular ones

Facial senses

  • Brightness – rods in eyes
  • Color – cones in eyes
  • Smell – sensors inside the nose
  • Sound – vibration sensors in eardrums
  • Taste buds in the mouth
    • Bitterness
    • Saltiness
    • Sourness
    • Sweetness
    • Umami (savoriness)

General body and skeleton

  • Acceleration, direction, gravity, changes in body movement – inner ear and sensors in the skeleton
  • The body’s orientation related to other body parts – sensors in the skeleton
  • Bone and joint pain – sensors in the skeleton
  • Thirst – water sensors

Specific organs

  • Body organ pain – sensors in organs
  • Hunger – stomach sensors
  • Muscle tension – sensors in muscles
  • Stretching in digestive and respiratory systems – sensors that detect blood vessel dilation

Skin

  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Pressure
  • Temperature
  • Touch

Brain

  • Drugs/hormones – chemoreceptors in the brain
  • Magnetic fields and sense of direction – sensors in the brain
  • Time – debated how it works, but amazingly accurate
  • Vomiting reflex – chemoreceptors in the brain

Consciousness starts with identifying all of our needs

Everyone needs the same things, but not in equal quantities

  • We tend to meet our needs as they appear, but often sacrifice others in the process
  • By being aware of these needs, it allows us to diagnose future issues before they arise

Physical needs are necessary for survival and a base sense of wellness

  • Food – can range from needing any food to a specific nutritional need
  • Water – always necessary for survival
  • Shelter – from both the elements and protection from attack

Internal psychological needs are often self-met, but often need attention when unmet

  • The need for happiness and pleasure
  • The need to feel in control
  • The need to feel risks
  • The need to be challenged or inspired
  • The need to feel safe, at peace or comfortable
  • The need to emotionally release through crying, rage or venting
  • The need for evidence of growing or improving
  • The need for certainty about things and to know something for sure
  • The need for something to work towards, look forward to or be a part of
  • The need to feel well

External psychological needs are usually social, and only others will fulfill them

  • The need to belong to and be accepted by a group or affiliation
  • The need to be nurtured and supported by others
  • The need to be valued and cherished by others
  • The need to be respected by others
  • The need to be empathized with and have others identify with
  • The need to be encouraged by others’ behaviors
  • The need to be noticed and to be the temporary center of attention
  • The need to love others and connect with them
  • The need for a connected state with a greater universal purpose than interests of self or others

Unmet needs over a long time eventually create an existential crisis

  • Familiar and common things feel bizarre
  • Severe anxiety from seeing limited possibilities of personal choice
  • Overemphasis on death and mortality
  • Awareness of the fact that major life decisions can be pre-planned
  • Terror upon realizing that nothing can be appropriately premeditated

Over our lives, we create a “center” that becomes the perceived source of those needs

To recognize ourselves and our centers, we often need meditation

Meditation looks mystical, but it isn’t mystical at all

  • Meditation uses hypnotism, and hypnotism is anything that focuses your attention
    • Relax and concentrate on your breathing
    • Repeat a phrase over and over
    • Pray a mantra repeatedly or read something positive
    • Listen to calming music or fixate on familiar music
    • Go for a walk or some other physical exercise
  • Religious groups often meditate, but it’s not religious, and everyone needs to do it
    • Many people add elements to it to over-spiritualize it
    • Though it has spiritual qualities, it’s more about the mind than about anything religious
  • Meditation by itself is very beneficial
    • It allows putting away any thoughts that are negative, deconstructive, harmful or useless
    • It shows critical hot-points where addictions or triggers may reside
    • It enables us to analyze and critically think
      • We cannot predict others or the world around us if we aren’t aware of ourselves
      • Emotional reactions to our thoughts force us to stop thinking about those thoughts

The point of meditation is to slow down your thinking until it is no longer rushing by

  • Meditation is an inventory or audit of the current state of your mind
  • It is a moment-by-moment perspective, not a matter of spirituality or transcendence

Meditation requires almost no effort

  1. Let the perceptions throughout the meditation naturally come as they flow in and out of consciousness
    • Don’t try to scale it down
      • Don’t block the feelings that are guaranteed to arise
      • Don’t push them away as a separate part of you out of shame or self-hatred
    • Don’t try to intensify it
      • Don’t hold onto the feeling like it’s necessary to make sense of things
      • Don’t increase it to try to get through it faster
    • Don’t act on the emotion
      • You will feel a natural sense of urgency, but avoid doing anything with it
  2. Feel your present physical state
    • Get into a comfortable position and relax your body, one body part at a time
    • Breathe slowly and “release” the stress
    • Let the force of gravity act on you into a natural state
    • Focus on breathing and its components until it is fully recognized and accepted
    • Slow your breathing to increase oxygenation and relaxation
      1. Inhale for 4 seconds
      2. Hold your lungs full for 4 seconds
      3. Exhale for 4 seconds
      4. Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds
    • After focusing on breathing, focus on anything else as it comes into perspective
      • Look at the world around you, but as simply as a perspective instead of something proven real
      • Observe everything as a matter of experience or perspective, not as anything that is or isn’t
    • Close your eyes to drown out most of the information
  3. Become mindfully aware of yourself and your thoughts
    • Become aware of the feelings in the face or head
    • Become aware of the thoughts as they slowly move through your mind
      • Don’t attach any judgments or extra thoughts to them
        • Start looking at the thoughts like they are objects  to be slowly and carefully examined
    • Start observing emotions
      • Recognize the emotions as illusions and simply present in your mind
      • Let the emotions’ changes transition and observe the feelings as they change
        • Focus on other times that you’ve felt different than the current moment
      • Observe the body’s reactions to the emotions
      • Observe other feelings you have at the same time you’re feeling a particular feeling
        • Pay attention to the feelings that come out from those feelings
      • Look at the body’s reactions to the feelings
    • Open up your eyes and watch the feelings and thoughts flood back into consciousness
      • Be mindful that it is all a perspective, and none of it is true reality
  4. Become aware of the world around you
    • Visualize something familiar like a household object
    • Observe how the mind created that visualization, but also how it’s as real to us as everything else from our imaginations
    • Relax that portion of the mind until the world is nothing but its raw information
    • Intentionally forget about the objects or their boundaries or rules and focus only on the data
    • Increase the awareness until it expands beyond what you see
      • Pay attention to other sensations like sounds or smells, and incorporate that into the view
      • Make consciousness a single experience
    • Observe the conscious self and identify where “you” are in the center of the experience, or if that experience even exists
  5. Start paying attention to thoughts as they arise before they occur
    • Look at where the ideas are coming from and where they go
    • We often look at our thoughts like we are the thinker of those thoughts, but we can’t prove that
    • Dwell on what is entirely certain and on the varying levels of uncertainty that something can exist in
    • Accept that your emotions and thoughts are not necessarily you
      • Focus in on specific thoughts, such as a familiar friend’s face or a particular smell of a plant
    • Accept that the constant flow of ideas is outside of your own identity and self

Work to improve yourself in every way only from a meditative state

Any time you become anxious or stressed, realign yourself with meditation

  • Make it a routine to realign throughout your day
  • Try to stay in this frame of mind when walking, driving, studying, or working
  • When you feel anxious or uneasy, force yourself to stop and slow down

Try more advanced self-reflection when you’re more comfortable with it

  • Talk to yourself and have a conversation with yourself
  • Say to yourself “I have the feeling of ___.” instead of “I am ___.”
  • Don’t judge your feeling and be willing to experience it
  • Learn to radically accept all of your feelings as a unique part of who you are
  • Cross-reference new experiences with old experiences
    • Review stories later on in your life to see how your perspective has changed
    • Listen to past music to observe your old mentalities
  • Start looking ahead at what may likely come next in the “chain” of thoughts you have

Once you’ve attained awareness enough to see things as they are instead of your impression of them, then take the time to analyze it more thoroughly

Next: How To Analyze Correctly