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The Gift of Self-Awareness

Several years ago, my friend Steve had a job as a business executive. His slide into a life of drugs was breathtakingly quick. He used drugs and when he ran out of money, he began to steal whatever he could find – even from his family. It devastated them. His wife told me that she was sick to de…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Several years ago, my friend Steve had a job as a business executive. His slide into a life of drugs was breathtakingly quick. He used drugs and when he ran out of money, he began to steal whatever he could find – even from his family. It devastated them.

His wife told me that she was sick to death of all the lies. She was sick of having to work three jobs and worry about the safety of her children while she was away. She was tired of having her life jeopardized by his irresponsibility.

When Steve hit bottom and was ready to commit suicide, a friend of mine I’d introduced to him took him in. But one night Steve repaid my friend’s kindness by taking his valuables and selling them for money.

How does someone like Steve become a user of other people? How is it that our world shrinks to a place where we don’t see other people or feel their pain, a place where we’re consumed by our own needs?

Self-Awareness is seeing your context

Self-awareness is more than just seeing yourself, it’s perceiving yourself in a broader context. It’s being able to understand how your actions impact those around you. Self-awareness involves moving from the subjective point of view – one we’re all born with – to a more objective perspective that asks the question, “What is really going on here?”

Piaget defined the stages of child development and from that came the theory of mind. It addresses the notion that our reality is inevitably subjective – how do any of us become aware of ourselves as sentient beings?

Some people never move from a place of self-absorption to a gradually dawning awareness of the world around them and how they impact it. Children are born narcissistic, but good socialization helps them become considerate adults.
When I was in high school, we not only received grades on our report cards, teachers scored us for our interpersonal behavior in class as well. The idea was to promote self-awareness through feedback.
Many parents inadvertently retard their child’s development by protecting him or her from feedback. Buffered from the perspective of others, they remain stunted in a narcissistic state.
Children need pain to become self-aware

Parents fail to realize that children need pain if they are to grow. Pain communicates that there is something wrong with the status quo.
Children who are accustomed to getting their way or being protected from the natural consequences of their actions become self-willed, comfortable in a place of stunted development.
They grow into adults who deflect pain to others. A common posture for such socially oblivious people is that of a victim. Unable to take responsibility for their actions, they hold others responsible for the pain they feel.
Periodically, we’ll make a mistake in who we accept to go on the World Race. Usually it’s in one of three areas that we look for in all candidates:

  • Overall Health  – you can’t have so much baggage that it slows down your team. 
  • Desire To Grow – you want to do what it takes to get rid of your baggage. 
  • Self-Awareness – you have to see the baggage for what it is. 

Elephants in the room

One of our racers was deeply wounded. She saw herself as a victim and bullied those on her team. When our leaders gave her feedback about her behavior, she rejected it and declared them abusive. Back home, she continues to wear her victim status and now is waging a campaign to attack those who brought her feedback.

She lacks self-awareness. She doesn’t see her responsibility.

Wounded people who lack self-awareness are dangerous to those around them. They are the elephant in the room and they are the last to know it. It’s a sad way to live.
Perhaps you’ve had a parent who was not self-aware. If so, you’re not alone. So many parents try to meet their own needs through their children. It can take years of counseling to unwind.

How to become self-aware

Jesus said, “the truth will set you free.”* But deny the truth and you may find yourself walking a lonely path of self-deception.
The antidote is a healthy dose of feedback. It’s a mirror reflecting reality. See the gift of self-awareness for what it is and you have the opportunity to get on a path that leads to freedom.
How self-aware are you? Do you regularly ask for and accept feedback? Do you have the humility to receive it? Living insulated from reality, the last to see the situation for what it is, is no way to live. Why not make it your goal to live free no matter the cost?

Whatever price you have to pay, it is so worth it.


* John 8:32

Comments (11)

  • Seth we discussed this very thing this morning. This is great insight and help with what we are defining right now. Thank you again and again.

  • Seth, very good read this morning. As a Grand Parent it is very hard to see your children go through this and only through prayer and His Love can I exist. I find myself hanging more on His Word as i get older. Thanks again for your Heart and word, Frank III

  • That’s what’s so hard about being a parent – you have answers that you don’t necessarily have permission to share. You have done a great job with Frank. He’s become a wonderful coworker.

  • Excellent. This post serves as a mirror to every reader. Don’t forget what you look like after reading it.

  • This is INCREDIBLE!!!! From one “almost” World Racer to it’s founder… I’d simply say this is 100% truth!!!! I don’t think the staff at AIM would recognize me at this point lol, not to the person they met at TC in October of 2012 anyways. God is so GOOD but it is definitely NOT an easy path to get to the other side – and being “self-aware” as you call it:o) But it is worth it!!

  • That’s wonderful news, Dana. I went back and checked your blog to see what “the old Dana” looked like. Thanks for pressing into the hard work it took to grow!

  • My WR blog has all but one blog from my trip to Thailand in November with AIM and Connie… I LOVE that woman! She has been a true God-sent to my life and truly helped “redeem” how I view AIM after my experience And my blog that has the missing Thailand blog is attached to my name. Thanks again Seth!!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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