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Self-Absorbed or Self-Aware?

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

distorted reflectionWhat label would you use to describe your most common stance toward “self?”

Self-conscious? (cringe)  Self-absorbed? (preen)  Self-preserving?  (shields engaged!)

How often is your self-regard constructed from distorted assumptions about how others perceive you? We all do it. Not being privy to the thoughts of others, we make assumptions about what they must be thinking based on our own deepest fears. They are judging us. They are competing with us. They are out to get us in one way or another.

Here’s a radical trick to help you reduce the distortion in your self-awareness. Instead of making everyone else a judge, or a competitor, or a predator, imagine that we are your children. How are you taking care of us?

Daniel Goleman wrote, “Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection—or compassionate action.”

To be self-aware is to humbly and joyfully accept our gifts and imperfections as the instruments we’ve been given with which to serve others. In self-awareness lies clarity about capacity and purpose.

The amusing paradox in your journey toward self-awareness is that it’s not about you. It’s about us.

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