Self-awareness and perceptions of self.
Have you ever thought ‘this person seems to think I completely different to who I am?’
Or have you ever been grouped with people who are ‘said’ to have the same characteristics as you?
Well this is what happened to me. I was psychometrically tested and joined with a group who were supposed to be like me. Imagine, you do a test and are placed with people just like you – or are supposed to be just like you? Do you think that you would like them? What do you think they would be like to work with? Are you more likely to consider their good traits or find their faults? If you are noticing them, they will be noticing these in same qualities in you. So, I looked at this group of individuals who were highly ambitious, focused, motivated, competitive and leaders and thought ‘my goodness’ do I really come across like this? I looked across the room at the ‘the nice friendly section’ – the people who were reliable, methodical people who were loyal and nice. I liked that group best and wanted to wander across the room and hang out with them rather than with a group of leaders who were trying to out-lead each other.
The next group were introverts who simply got on with work, they did not need recognition. They were perfectionist who simply produced what was needed. They were slower but did things well. They were the ants that built the ant farm. I liked these people too. They got on with things. There was no competition, they could be utilised to their best ability to build and progress projects. Once you had set them on a course or a project they would continue until completion. Brilliant.
The final group were the detail group. Who asked endless questions. They are the type that go through everything with a fine-tooth comb and again are quite introverted and take an enormous amount of time to make sure everything is absolutely correct. They often lack confidence to let a piece of work go because they need to check and re-check to make sure it is right.
After this grouping took place, I wondered how many people were truly aware of themselves and how they came across in general. Sometimes we are not aware of how we come across or how people see us until someone gets us complete wrong (according to our self-perception). We think we are a type inside, yet our actions and behaviours can be interpreted in other ways.
So the question – how can we be truly aware of ourselves?
Write down the qualities that you really like in people.
Now write the qualities you dislike.
What is it that you like about each quality and what you don’t like?
Who do the qualities remind you of?
The parts that you don’t like in others – why is that?
This is quite a shocking process to realise the things you like in others are often the parts you like about yourself and the same with the parts you dislike. Now this is where it becomes a little more complex. We can only know in others what we know of ourselves. The parts of ourselves that we don’t know will be invisible in others because we have not recognised those parts… Think about it. We can’t know what we don’t know. So this is why I believe that people can get people so wrong. They use others as a mirror to themselves and sometimes see themselves in others. What I realised is that one never needs to take people’s interpretations personally because they are simply seeing themselves. Now with this in mind, have you noticed in your friendship group that you have different friends that bring out different aspects of you? Well I believe there is reason for this too. Having a variety of friends with different qualities enables you to know and see more of yourself.
So… if ultimately the goal is to really know yourself then how do we do this?
A big question – yet one of the most effective way is to journal and consider the three selves.
Try a bit of automatic writing, this is where you write fast without conscious thought. You take the question and simply write.
Write rapidly the answer to this: Who am I as my ultimate self? What would I be doing if I lived without limitation?
Who am I with my current self? What is my usual approach to life?
Who am I as my most frightened self? What do I stop myself doing through fear?
These are big questions and will take time to digest. This little exercise will provide quite an insight into how removed we can be from our ultimate self and how we hinder ourselves through fear and take the middle road rather than take the risk and aspire to be the ultimate self.