‘Self-Awareness’ is Contextual and External

Just talking about yourself is not self-awareness, not even talking to yourself about yourself.  Talking about yourself is about influencing your various audiences to see you in certain ways (usually in good ways except for metalheads and goths).  Talking about yourself is just like talking about your friends except that you have other information.  This applies equally when talking about yourself to yourself (thinking about yourself).

Self-awareness is instead all about being able to describe the contexts that engender your actions; being able to describe in detail the various things you do and the thoughts you think, as multifarious, contradictory and situation-specific as these might be.  It is about describing in detail the historical, social, economic contexts in which you have found yourself in life, and how these strategic contexts link to the various things you do and the thoughts you think.  If you can do this you will gain true self-knowledge and self-awareness, but you will have to learn much of this from other people and from detailed inquiry of externalities, not from navel-gazing and talking about yourself to yourself in your room.

To hopefully make this clearer, I could nominate one of your friends and ask you to analyse everything you can about them to write a biography: the social, cultural, historical, economic, and opportunity contexts that have given shape to all the things they do and think and say, the strategies they developed through life with the people and resources that were available to them.  You would need participant observation, a lot of time, a lot of questioning, talking to people, reading records, etc.  You should not, however, sit in your room and ruminate and talk to yourself about your friend.  (Writers even go out and do research for the fictitious characters they portray, let alone material for biographies.)

The point I am trying to make is that if I now ask you to do the same for yourself as for your friend, the methods should not be different; you should not sit in your room and ruminate on your true inner being or your navel, build persuasive words around a new image of yourself, and perhaps construct how you would like to be viewed by people.

True self-awareness, paradoxically perhaps, requires you going outside and analyzing everything you can about your own social, cultural, historical, economic, and opportunity contexts that gave and give shape to all the things you do and think and say, the strategies you have developed through life with people and resources that were available.  You would need participant observation of yourself (observing and recording systematically what it is that you actually do, say and think all day!), a lot of time, a lot of questioning, talking to people, reading records, etc.

Then you would really learn about yourself without illusions or verbal constructions.

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