What is the difference between awareness and self-awareness?

On the one hand awareness is something that we are all capable of experiencing right now if we allow ourselves to put our mind to it. Self-awareness on the other hand requires another set of listening and fine tuning skills.

Many of us spend most of our day in a state of non-awareness. A good example of this is when we happen to be more preoccupied by things we wish to achieve but haven’t, or by the missed opportunities of the past as opposed to simply being aware of the present moment you happen to be in.

Actual awareness begins with simply noticing what is in my immediate field of experience in the present as opposed to being transported somewhere in the past or some distant or not so distant future.

However, asking oneself questions such as: ‘Why do I think what I do?’, ‘What makes me feel this way?’, ‘Do I have to continue to be this way?’, ‘Can I be different than the way I have always been?’, ‘What can I learn about that?’, ‘Is that the only way to describe this?’, ‘What does this mean about me?’, ‘What does this mean to me?’, ‘ Do I really have to believe that?’ and so on and so forth. These type of questions not only stem from but also lead to develop self-awareness. It is not just about being aware but about inviting oneself to explore what that awareness really means to me and assess whether it is how or where or what I want to be.

Whenever we get overwhelmed by negative emotions for instance like sadness, anger, fear, guilt, shame or other, we typically respond by reacting in non-awareness as an instinctual self-defense mechanism as opposed to being aware of it, in a non-reactive way, and then challenging oneself a step further by uncovering the underlying reason for experiencing the negative emotion and then exploring the various ways one could be responding instead.

Part of releasing oneself from the traps of our mind means to better understand ourselves. Awareness is just a first step, but to really understand the mechanisms of our own mind and the way ‘I’ function- which might be different to the way we each individually function is what will pave the way towards self-awareness. As I become Self-Aware I move towards a different relationship with myself and the world.

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