Change of pace in topics. (and yes, that’s a real formula, see the end of this post for more on that).
If you have read enough of my posts, you know I am a champion for vulnerability… being vulnerable to those around you fosters communication, trust, openness, oneness. I have found tremendous happiness through vulnerability. But there is more to my “happiness formula” than just vulnerability and I want to share what that is.
Indulge me as I take up a post to write about something other than my sexcapdes and spankplotations.
MY HAPPINESS RECIPE
No, it’s not the above formula. Mine has two ingredients. Vulnerability (no surprise) is one. And it shares space with another key ingredient of my core beliefs regarding happiness. This ingredient, combined with vulnerability, creates a magical elixir. Through it you can see yourself clearly, you can be more confident, more creative, make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.
Having this thing makes you less likely to lie, cheat, or steal. You can be a better partner, better parent, better employee, better citizen – a better version of yourself.
And what is this second ingredient to my magical elixir?
It seems simple. Who should know us better than ourselves? But – it’s actually not so easy because our ego often warps our views of ourselves. Ignoring our shortcomings is one thing, but we all have a tendency to justify them. Self-awareness means not just being aware of our shortcomings, but actively working to change them.
Most of us have some degree of one or the other type of self-awareness (discussed below). But studies have shown only about one-in-eight people fit the criteria of being fully “self-aware.”
WHAT IS SELF AWARENESS?
Definitions are tricky as words mean different things to different people. Generally, we are talking about how one monitors their inner self. I like to think of it as consistency between how WE see ourselves and how OTHERS see us. For most people, those two views are grossly inconsistent.
ARE WE TRULY WHO WE THINK WE ARE? (Internally Self Aware)
Internal Self awareness is not thinking of ourselves in the context of how we control or influence our lives. Internal self-awareness is thinking of ourselves in the context of how we impact those around us.
Internal self-awareness can be how we see our values, passions, and aspirations. How we see our thoughts, our feelings, our behaviors, and how we evaluate our strengths and weakness — all in the context of how these things impact those around us. There are many studies that show the more we truly understand how we impact the environment around us, the happier we are and the less anxious, stressful, or depressed we are.
ARE WE TRULY WHO OTHERS PERCEIVE US TO BE? (Externally self-aware)
External self-awareness is not just understanding how others view you. External self-awareness is being open to allowing your understanding of how others view you to influence you.
External self-awareness is understanding how others view us in terms of our values, passions, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. People who know how others see them are more skilled at feeling empathy and are better at taking other’s perspectives into account. People who see themselves as their partners do (or family members, friends, etc., do), have better relationships with those people.
ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER?
You can have one type of awareness without the other. You can be clear on who you are (high internal self-awareness) but never challenge your own views or try to identify “blind spots” in your views (low on external awareness).
You know your shortcomings but don’t want to address them nor seek feedback from others regarding them. I know people like this. I was once very much like this. The challenge is that your ego creates a false narrative of how others view you. You are duped into thinking others either see you as you see yourself and if they don’t, they are the ones with a problem, not you.
You could be someone very focused on outward appearance…wanting to appear a certain way to please (high external self-awareness) but at the expense of what is important to you and fulfilling to you (low internal self-awareness). I know people like this. They are pleasers…pleasant to be around at times. But in my experience they also display passive-aggressive tendencies because they are not truly happy and might just be downright depressed.
Then there are those that have neither. They don’t have a good understanding of who they are, what they stand for, or how others see them.
And if they are completely devoid of these understandings, they become the “victim” of everything around them – overly sensitive to slights or insults and quick to assume everyone is “against them.” They strive to perfect and dramatize a personal narrative of suffering. And soon it becomes self-fulfilling as they become frustrated with themselves and their relationships.
What’s worse is I find these types of people tend to seek out others like them, to form an alliance in their victim-identity. They may even go so far as to seek out an offense in order to complain (Twitter trolls!). They are crybullies!
VICTIM AS A VERB
I am differentiating being a victim of things that happen to you and becoming a victim. Clearly, people are truly harmed by people, nature, and circumstances. There are many injustices out there that negatively impact a lot of people. I am not writing about that type of victim. I am writing about a victim mentality. I am writing about victim as a verb, not a noun.
At one point in my life, I let too many people like this in my life. They are emotional drainers and if you aren’t careful, you can become co-dependent in their victim-hood.
I am not going to try to give my how-to’s. You can Google “how to become self-aware.”
It simplest terms, it requires self-reflection — that’s easy.
Oh, but wait… the trick is HONEST self-reflection — that’s hard.
That’s where vulnerability can help. Being vulnerable with those around you makes you open to sharing your self-reflection and hearing and understanding their perceptions of you.
And self-awareness is not a destination, but an ongoing process. Once achieved, it can be easy to slide out of it. It’s that ego thing that can trick us into over-valuing the beliefs we are deeply invested in and devaluing things that are contrary to those beliefs. It doesn’t take long for something nefarious to sneak in and before you know it, you are beholden to a false narrative about yourself and the world around you.
And that is not a recipe for happiness.
Btw, that formula in my heading, that’s a real thing someone came up with. While I think mine is so much easier, check out this article if you want to decipher that formula.
Okay, enough lecturing from Jenny. I’ll get back to my typical tantalizing tales of steamy self discovery. I guess that’s part of my happiness formula too!