What is the cost of not developing your own individuality?

A life without examination is not worth living“. This is the aphorism that captures the Socratic concept of teaching. Socratic methods appeal to the importance of examining ourselves and others to maintain a critical attitude about our actions and about our lives with the objective of evolving towards the best version of ourselves.

In a very different culture, Shakyamuni Buddha taught a similar message: suffering comes from the impurities of perception and consciousness. For this reason, purifying our conscious mind is a goal of the Buddhist practice. This suffering that Shakyamuni speaks of today can be translated into anxiety, existential crises, work and personal dissatisfaction, problems in social relationships, among others.

The practice of self-exploration is not exclusive to the Buddhist faith or Ancient Greece thinkers. It is a practice that humanity has been using since immemorial times. By raising our level of consciousness, self-exploration allows us to learn about ourselves in ways that no other person can show us. It is the process of discovering ourselves through reflection and introspection to live a more conscious and fulfilling life.

Observing ourselves requires a powerful exercise of non-judgment, trying to look at our inner self from objectivity. While it may not be possible to obtain total objectivity about oneself, one must aspire to look at oneself from impartiality, from not giving an opinion and only observing.

The Theory of Self-consciousness is based on the idea that we are not our thoughts but the entity observing our thoughts. We are the thinkers, separated from our thoughts (Duval and Wicklund, 1972). This theory evokes a concept developed by Alfred Krozybski who maintains that the map is not the territory or the word is not the thing itself.

Krozybski argued that many people confuse maps with territories, models of reality with the same reality. Being prisoners of our beliefs and behavioral patterns can play tricks on us.

We can go through the day without reflection, just thinking, feeling, and acting as we please, or we can choose to focus our attention on consciously thinking, feeling, and acting, a skill Duval and Wicklund called “self-assessment“.

When we commit to self-assessment, we can reflect on whether how we are thinking, feeling and acting is in line with the socio-cultural “should” or with our own values ​​and principles.

Self-knowledge and self-awareness involve the rigorous observation and effective management of our thoughts, emotions and actions, giving us the possibility to regulate our behavior, our stress levels, get rid of beliefs and thoughts that no longer serve us. Self-awareness is one of the major mechanisms for influencing personal growth and experiencing direct changes in individual and global well-being.

Some benefits of self-awareness are:

  • It allows us to be more proactive, enhances our acceptance and our personal development (Sutton, 2016).
  • It gives us new perspectives on others, improves self-control, self-esteem, and helps us work more creatively and productively (Silvia & O’Brien, 2004).
  • It improves our decision-making process (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992).
  • It allows us to improve our communication, trust and well-being (Sutton, Williams, & Allinson, 2015).

In fact, self-awareness has the potential to enhance almost any experience. It is a tool that can be used at any time and in any place so that we can connect with the here and now, and from that state of consciousness allow ourselves to act in a more intentional and meaningful way, creating fulfillment and well-being in our life that extends to those around us.

How can you start this process?

  • Therapy: Therapy is an excellent tool to gain self-awareness, to find answers and to come up with new questions that will allow you to grow. Before starting therapy, it is advisable to review your affinity with the therapist’s specialization to optimize the match.
  • Yoga: Yoga practice forces you to be in the present moment. It is a good tool to develop that mindfulness ability that will allow you to look at life from a state of serenity and lucidity.
  • Art: Art is used in therapy to connect patients with their unconscious mind and allow them to visualize many themes that are not expressed with words. It is a direct route to your inner self. Paying more attention to the colors, shapes that we create, etc., will allow you to obtain very valuable information about yourself.
  • Reading: Reading about different topics and opening up to different views on the same topic will help you develop your critical thinking that you can then use to analyze with more precision and more objectivity what is happening in your inner world.
  • Coaching: Language creates reality. Starting a coaching process with a certified professional can help you understand and identify the biases of your language and therefore issues to be addressed. Through the art of conversation you can get to generate insights about yourself that you did not expect and thus advance in the process of self-knowledge.

It is necessary to take this process seriously, as a long-distance race since one never finishes knowing oneself. It is key to get involved and commit to this process to generate significant learning, to make the unconscious conscious.

Genuine individuality does not go through outward appearances or style; it is something that we generate and manifest from within. If we develop and understand our individuality, it will be our own infallible weapon to get the most out of life.

Why do most people give up on this journey that allows them to unearth their full potential and make the most of their life?