It’s important we set ourselves free from all cages of our own minds’ creation. Put simply, we cannot let our thoughts, tendencies, or habits become the forces that hold us back from the life we deserve or the goals we set for ourselves.
As Aristotle once said “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom;” it can be the key that sets us free from what within stifles us. This knowing of ourselves or conscious knowledge of our own character, feeling, motives, and desires is self-awareness. While self-awareness can be the key to freedom from our own internal prisons, for some of us, it’s what keeps us trapped.
How does knowing ourselves lead to self-imprisonment? How does it hold us back from a life we truly deserve or our potential?
The answer to both questions is straightforward; we use the awareness reasoning for why things are the way they are or cannot change. For instance, take the person who loses a parent at an early age and fills in the parental role for their siblings as their surviving parent spirals into addiction. This person grows up feeling the need to be in control and due to the addiction also develops co-dependent tendencies. As an adult, this person becomes self-aware of how their upbringing has affected them in their adult life. This person uses it as the reason to define why their relationships have been toxic. They have anxiety when they feel out of control. This person accepts a life of toxic relationships and anxiety, or withdraws from all relationships and only puts themselves in situations they can control.
Circumstances like the previous instance keep us stuck and do not promote growth.
In order to free ourselves from lives of stagnation, we must use self-awareness as a road map to change. To do this we must follow these steps:
- Recognize whether the thoughts, tendencies or habits we become aware of contribute to our growth, goals, or life we’d like to lead
- Commit to doing whatever it takes to work on and heal those thoughts, tendencies or habits
- Develop an action plan to change
- Seek professional guidance and support, when we feel stuck or needed
At the end of the day, knowing ourselves can set us up for either greater life satisfaction and growth, or become the shackles that hold us down. But, we don’t have to let self-awareness become that prison. The choice is ours.
By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author
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