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Developing Self Awareness as the New Year Begins
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, January 2011

Recently I spoke with a woman who said she no longer recognized herself. She was not referring to her physical body, although we all know what it feels like to look into the mirror and wonder whose reflection we see. Rather, she had spent so much of her life becoming what she thought other people wanted or expected her to be, that she no longer knew: 1) what her own "true" voice was, 2) what she really loved and enjoyed, and 3) what she wanted to do with the rest of her life now that her children were out of the house. She had time. She had dedicated so many years being available to, and reflecting others in her family, focusing on what they expected of her, that she no longer had a "feel" for her core; her essence. This is not uncommon.

As we begin the new year, we can take the opportunity to re-think and re-evaluate our lives and the way we live our lives. We can begin with allowing ourselves to reflect on the kind of life we would live if we lived with intention and meaning. That meaning would reflect the purpose of our life.

Paying attention to our own needs, desires, and opinions is essential for self awareness. To become self aware, we need to pay attention to our unique desires, needs, and opinions. As we grow in self awareness, we will better understand why we feel what we feel and why we behave the way we do. When we do this, we begin to notice who we are as individuals. We learn what "makes us tick," and we understand how we function in the larger world.

Without this self-awareness we are more susceptible to reflect others; to accept their perceptions of who we are and who they believe we are supposed to be.

When we know who we are and what it is that we truly want, we become more focused and able to consciously pursue courses that can make those wants realities. If we don't, we will continue to pursue patterns of thought and action that direct us and reflect others' views of us rather than becoming proactive, and directing our own thoughts.

With a clearer perception of who we are, we can better understand others, our responses to them, and who we actually are. By being more self aware, we are able to assess and interpret what we are thinking and feeling, and having that be a truer reflection of our own essence.

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