Becoming Self-Aware in Everyday Life

by Mark Votava


Sometimes I resist self-awareness.  I go through life blind to what is really going on within me.  When I do this it is extremely unhealthy because I end up isolated from my authentic path.

  •  The illusions of the false self

Authenticity is harder to find when I am not self-aware.  My true self is buried within me over all the illusions of the false self that I have created.  The false self is what my ego gravitates toward, but it is not who I am at the core of my being.

  •  Self-awareness and authenticity

I cry out to experience some liberation from my false self to have an understanding of my true self, created in the image of God.  When I am self-aware, I truly live my life from what is authentic to me.  This is my freedom as I live deeply into my body in the place I live.

  •  Confusing, difficult and impossible at times

I have been on a path to understanding myself for the past two decades.  It all started back in the early 90’s.  It has felt confusing, difficult and impossible at times.  I have recognized that my own humanity is very complex and has very deep levels that I do not always fully understand.

I crave food, sleep, sex, comfort, rest, companionship with others, rhythms, integration, mission, learning, thinking, contemplating, silence, meaningful work, healing from pain, freedom from anger, the disappearance of sadness, looking good, cleanliness, exercise, leisure, celebration, touch, affirmation, happiness, money, possessions and fun experiences.

  •  Listening in silence and solitude

In the midst of sorting out what is a healthy expression of my humanity, I have had to cultivate a practice of listening in silence and solitude.  There are boundaries, liberties and limitation to all the things I experience within myself.

  •  Lifelong process

My silence and solitude has helped me to discern what is going on inside of me.  I ask the hard questions within myself constantly to try to understand myself.  I have gotten much better at this over the years, but it is a lifelong process of working out my identity in the parish.

  •  Without deepening your own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love

Thomas Merton writes in his book Contemplation in a World of Action, “He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love will not have anything to give others.  He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas…”

  •  So important to becoming our true self

Understanding ourselves is so important to becoming our true self.  Understanding ourselves is a connection point in our relational context.  The more we understand ourselves, the more ability we will have to live relationally in our local community.  When we are on the path of self-understanding, we will start to experience our spirituality more holistically.

  •  Our awareness becomes alive and free

Our awareness becomes alive and free within the mystical imagination.  Our awareness leads us deeper into ourselves and the place we inhabit together.  Silence and solitude creates this self-understanding, this awareness.

  •  Becoming whole and connected

Phileena Heuertz says in her wonderful book Pilgrimage of a Soul, “Self-Awareness is central to becoming whole and connected…”  

What is something you practice to become self-aware in everyday life?