What’s your name? How tall are you? Have you been feeling any dizziness or fatigue lately? Getting to know the real you is about asking yourself lots of questions. Much better questions than these.
It’s about exploring your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a good free throw shooter? If not, then that’s a weakness. How about dribbling or shot blocking? Hopefully one of those is a yes or your weakness column is starting to look like a nightmare.
Becoming self-aware may mean discovering aspects of yourself that you didn’t notice before, like, that you’re double-jointed or divorced. But amidst all the positives, there is always the risk that you could end up liking yourself less. This happens rarely, but when it does, boy, is it a suckeroo.
You might think you know yourself, but how about the time in that restaurant when you were so sure you wanted the salmon, then spit it right out of your mouth? Or the time you bought that expensive shirt then spit it out of your mouth? That doesn’t sound like someone who knows themselves very well or who understands what’s supposed to go in their mouth.
According to the renowned German psychologist Erick Erickson, people who lack self-awareness are experiencing an “identity crisis,” a condition that comes about when the person you think you are is different than the person you truly are. This happens a lot when you catch a glimpse of your Best Buy name tag.
Self-awareness can often be the gateway to personal change. If you want to quit smoking, for example, you have to know that you’re a smoker first, so look down at your hand and see if there’s a cigarette there. If not, then what is that in your hand? A gun? What are you, some kind of murderer?
Only when you truly know who you are will you feel the sense of freedom to mock others. Someone might walk funny, for example, but before you can safely mock him, it’s important to know for sure that you don’t walk funny, too. Once you’re clear, let ’em have it.
Looking through old photos can be a great window into your relationships—a big piece of the self-awareness puzzle. Study the body language of the people in the photos with you. Do they seem to like you, or are they glaring at you and hitting you? Are there any pictures of you whitewater rafting? This can be a huge help in determining whether or not you like doing that.
Try writing your obituary. Do you know yourself well enough to write about your life, or do you keep getting facts wrong? Are you even sad that you died? Because you sure aren’t acting like it.
Look into a mirror and say hello to yourself. Did you say anything back or just leave yourself hanging? Try smiling, now frown, now look frightened, now embarrassed, now shocked like you just got slapped by a snooty maître d’. Do any of these emotions feel natural to you? Try walking away from the mirror, then sneaking up on yourself. Is your first reaction, “Oh, there I am”? Or is it, “Who the hell’s this Chinese guy?”
Install a mirror above your bed so the first thing you see every morning is you. Use the little camera in the mirror to film yourself having sex with someone, then post it on the Internet. Check the comments section to see if people are generally pretty positive. If so, then someone may have just found that strength he was looking for.
Remember, achieving self-awareness is a process. Even with all the mirrors and sex videos, the path is rarely clear, but rather lined with mirages of our false selves. Each of us plays so many different roles in our lives: You might be a husband, father, brother, son, boss, hungdaddy9999, and a soccer coach all at the same time—so which “self” is the real you? It’s difficult to say, but fingers crossed it’s not the porny one.