Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Danger of Self-Awareness

If you don't know that you have a problem—like ADD or dyslexia—it's difficult to figure out the coping mechanisms necessary to mitigate the condition. Self-awareness helps with all sorts of things, from noticing sensitivities that you're developing to realizing that you're about to snap at someone else because you're crabby and blowing things out of proportion.

But like everything else, there's potential danger in practicing self-awareness: it easily leads to pride and assumptions that you actually do know yourself when you only know part of yourself, and that imperfectly.

Jeremiah 17:9 makes that clear. ("The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" [ASV])

Other people have told me I seem more self-aware than most, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The self-awareness helps a ton in figuring out "Okay, is this a take-caffeine headache, a take-allspice headache, or a get-off-the-computer headache?"

The moment you believe yourself entirely self-aware, you lose your ability to be self-aware at all.

If you already know the entire reason you did something, then you won't be open to realizing or noticing that there are other reasons, or that your reasons have changed over time. If you already know a certain pain is normal, you won't be watching for things that stop it.

For example, a bone-deep ache in the right hip means I'm dehydrated. I've had that since I was 12 or younger, and I was 19 before I figured out what it was. Adults scoffed when I complained about it, insisting I was too young for such aches. (Which was maddening when I was trying to figure out the cause.)

But I was so used to the pain that I didn't even realize it left…until months later, when I didn't have sufficient water for a few days, and my hip started to ache. I tested it a time or two, and now a twinge in my right hip serves as a reminder to get some fluids. But I have to be paying attention to notice when that happens.

Such self-awareness easily lends itself to pride.

And that's the real danger in it.

What do you think of self-awareness and its limitations?


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