The Journey to Self-Awareness
The Journey to Self-Awareness
Robert J. Burrowes
What is Self-awareness?
Self-awareness is the capacity to pay conscious attention to all aspects
of yourself: to use sensory capacities such as sight, hearing and touch to
provide accurate information about the external world; to use feelings
such as thirst, hunger, nausea, dizziness and physical pain to provide
accurate information about the state of your body and what it needs; to
use memory to store and provide access to learning from past experience;
to use your 'truth register' to detect lies and other misinformation; to
use intuition to 'listen' to and remain in touch with 'the big picture' of
life as a whole; to use conscience to enable you to make and act on those
difficult moral choices that, for example, might ultimately require you to
act against social conventions or unjust laws; to use feelings such as
fear, happiness, emotional pain, joy, anger, satisfaction, sadness, sexual
arousal and a vast variety of others to tell you what is happening for you
in any given situation and to give you the power to behave appropriately
in this context when the time is right; and to use intellect to acquire,
interpret, analyse and evaluate information from these and other sources,
such as written material.
also the capacity to synthesise all of the input
these and other sources in order to crystallise the appropriately precise
behavioural option in any given circumstance. To disintegrate or rank
these interrelated components of Self-awareness (for example, to regard
'thinking' as somehow separate from and superior to 'feeling') or to
regard them as in conflict with one another, gets in the way of
appreciating each function as a vital part of the whole even if temporary
indecision precedes an integrated sense of how to proceed.
is genetically programmed to be one integrated whole, not
conflicting set of components, but it is easily damaged so that one part
of its capacity dominates or suppresses others. It is the ongoing
destruction throughout childhood of the capacity to pay attention to all
of this input, and particularly feelings, that progressively destroys the
innate capacity to become Self-aware. What causes this damage? Terror. And
what makes a mind react with terror thus disrupting all other functions
simultaneously? Violence. And particularly the unrelenting onslaught of
'invisible' violence and 'utterly invisible' violence inflicted on
children throughout their childhood. See 'Why Violence?'
If you want
to know how serious this damage is, then consider some
questions: Do you ever do what others tell you? Why? Do you know how to
stand in a perfect posture (and can you do it)? Do you know what food
makes you healthy (and do you eat it)? Do you deliberately frighten
children to make them do what you want? Why do you believe that this is
functional? And do you feel calmly and powerfully able to deal with any
situation, including the looming threat of human extinction (or do you
prefer to delude yourself that it isn't happening)?
Self-awareness also enables the individual to
prioritise but to not
'forget'. For example, if an individual injures their leg while escaping a
dangerous situation, the individual will need to prioritise escape over
the injury. But, as soon as circumstances allow, the Self-aware individual
will stop doing everything else to pay deliberate attention to the injury
by specifically focusing on the pain and, if necessary, by applying the
appropriate first aid treatment. Why?
communications, whether in the form of feelings such as fear
anger, physical symptoms such as nausea and pain, and sensory signals such
as sounds and smells, are designed to give your mind information about
what is taking place but this information can only be fully utilised if
you devote deliberate attention to this or these phenomena. In the case of
physical pain, for example, the pain is designed to attract your attention
and, if you focus your attention on the pain rather than fearfully
suppressing your awareness of it (by distracting yourself or by taking
painkillers, for example) as you were taught and terrorised into doing as
a child, then your body will be in the optimum mode for responding to the
pain, and what it signals, with the appropriate short and long term
Your attention is a vital
ingredient of your healing: first, because it
optimises your body's capacity to identify and efficiently implement the
uniquely appropriate healing strategy for this circumstance, and second,
because it tells you what you need to do and what you need to change (if
anything), both in the short and long terms, if complete healing is to
If you focus attention on the pain, it will
virtually always be both
manageable and short-lived. Once it has your attention for the problem,
your immune system will automatically start to mute the pain. Without
attention full healing will never occur. Even worse, your body will store
the disease or injury of which the pain is a symptom and this will keep
manifesting one way or another repeatedly throughout your life resulting
in chronically declining health, as well as more intense and
longer-lasting bouts of pain requiring more frequent and ever-stronger
distractions and drugs to suppress it, despite the fact that the human
organism is designed to be as vigorous (even if differently so) in old age
as in youth.
The purpose of
emotional pain is the same as physical pain: to get
attention. But if emotional pain is not felt at the time (that is, it is
fearfully suppressed), it will come back later to wallop you bigger and
harder. Or kill you prematurely.
In summary then, just as an individual will
fearfully (and either
consciously or unconsciously) suppress their awareness of physical and
emotional pain, they will also fearfully (and increasingly automatically
and unconsciously) suppress their awareness of all aspects of their mind
as a result of the violence inflicted on them throughout their childhood.
you wish to acquire the Self-awareness that is your
you will need to pay attention to (that is, to spend time feeling) the
fear that makes you unconsciously suppress it.
How do you do this? The short
answer is this: If you feel scared in a
particular situation, try to consciously focus on feeling your fear –
whether from a dream, a memory or some current event in your life – for as
long as you can before reacting to it. For more details of this process,
see 'Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice'
It will be unpleasant but highly instructive.
If you wish to
join the worldwide movement to end all violence
facilitate our shared journey to Self-awareness, you are welcome to sign
online 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'
Self-awareness is your birthright: don't let your fear take it from you.