Thursday, August 6, 2009

Awareness of Self

For the Christian to be mindfully aware of self it requires a willingness to be focused on the here and now as well as examine oneself in light of what God has revealed in His Word.  We can easily get focused on ourselves as we want to be or how we have been.  These are distractions from mindful awareness of self.  You have to be "all there" in order to achieve this level of awareness. 

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;  for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:21-25 (NASB)

This passage deals with effective action which I will address in a future post.  It also deals with self-awareness.  Note those that do not have a awareness of themselves are deluded.  Those are strong words.  The image is of a person that looks in the mirror and then proceeds to forget what they look like.  Note also that the Bible (the gospel in particular) is the mirror by which we see ourselves.  When we look into God's word He makes us aware of Himself, but He also is revealing something about ourselves as well. 

Interesting the psychological test for self-awareness is using a mirror.  In this experiment a red dot (or some other object) is put on the toddler's forehead and then place them in front of a mirror.  The level of self-recognition is dependent on the toddler's reaction to the object.  If they reach up and touch the object on themselves then it is hypothesized that they recognize that it is them that is in the mirror.  This is fairly reliable research finding .

Spiritually speaking we achieve self-awareness when we can reflect on ourselves (meditation on the Bible is good for this) and our place in this world, then see "that is me."  It is authentic awareness of who you are, your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.  It is recognizing who you are not who you were or who you would like to be (in the moment here and now).

Another tool of self-awareness is called the Johari window.


Known to self

Unknown to self

Known to others

Public Self

Blind Self

Unknown to others

Private Self

Unknown Self

The goal of the Johari window is to minimize the "Blind Self" which is what others know about us that we ourselves are not aware of.  This is accomplished by asking others for feedback on a list of adjectives from others that know you well.  By performing this exercise you become aware of your "Blind Spots."  Interestingly this term blind spots has made it into our cultural lingo for a person lacking self-awareness. 

In the "Christian Mindfulness" we have the ability to not only minimize our blind spots, but we can also minimize the "Unknown."  This unknown is revealed to us as we trust in the Spirit's ability to examine our hearts, thoughts, motives, and desires.  Below is a Christian Johari Window if you will.


Known to self

Unknown to self

Known to others


Bearing one another up 

Unknown to others

Intimacy (with God and trusted others)

Known to God

God can either use others or His Spirit to make us more self-aware. 

One last area of self-awareness.  Mindlessness can become a way to escape painful self-awareness.  There are within all of us things that we do not like to admit.  These weaknesses, fears, disgusts, hatreds, sufferings are pushed away from awareness.  This can be intentional or subconscious.  It is useful in that it protects us from experiencing pain or suffering.  However, this defensive approach to life is not mindful and many times leads to problems as well.  I am sure that you can all recall a time where in an effort to escape suffering or the hard work of change you created more problems than if you were more honest with yourself and confronted this issue.

Self-Awareness is essential to being mindful.  Seeing your self as God sees you is ideal and leads to more authentic (and more spiritually healthy) living.