This current time in our history has allowed space for us to reflect on life. Why do we exist and what are we trying to achieve? Life has taken a sharp turn sending us into a place of deep uncertainty and a stark reminder that we need to live differently going forward. The ripples around the world are clearly evident and we are reminded of this every time we look out beyond ourselves. In these Covid times, many of us are challenged as we feel we are unable to make the decisions we want to make. This causes some of us to feel trapped, powerless and frustrated. It creates stress on us and our relationships with others. How do we cope?
Perhaps we need more practice at ‘being human’? What does that mean and how does it differ from being a human being? Wikipedia states the main difference between human being and being human is that ‘human being’ is generally defined as being a member of the species, ‘Homo Sapiens’, while ‘being human’ means displaying characteristics that are unique to human beings. Being human is described as having the ability to communicate systematically using words, symbols, body gestures/posture, and facial expressions. To have the ability to make our own decisions and bear the consequences of them.
One of our best tools to navigate challenging times is self-awareness. Knowing yourself is a very complex journey and requires focus. Being open to learning is key however, learning about yourself is a life-long commitment. Philosopher Krishnamurti advises, “Learn about everything in yourself, because if you learn from yourself about yourself, then you will not be a second-hand human being.” Knowing who you are, being who you are and being open to learning are the core ingredients to living a fulfilled life.
Building self-awareness is a lifetime adventure that takes courage. Mary Daly, a theologian, writes, “Courage is like – it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.” The same can be said for compassion and connection. Living as our best self, not just talking about it. When we have the courage to be vulnerable and honest about ourselves we build compassion for self and others. As we live this way we connect more deeply with ourselves and others. We live an authentic life with its ups and downs and the many human flaws we travel with. It is not striving for the ‘perfect life’ as portrayed by many on social media, which is often a long way from the reality.
Self-awareness requires us to reflect regularly and be honest with ourselves. What do we truly care to make a difference about? What are the deep-seated beliefs and values that drive our behaviour? Are they intentional or unintentional? Brene Brown comments in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” Setting aside regular time to reflect brings clarity, develops our confidence and enables us to identify next steps for action. It supports us in identifying what success can look like. This supports us in identifying the data we need to gather to show growth.
Because our personal view is only one perspective, it is essential we source feedback from others. Identifying people we trust and respect to be honest with us is key here. Asking others for feedback on specific goals we are working on can enhance our wider view. Even unsolicited feedback can increase our sense of self awareness. Never get defensive when given feedback. Always consider – what is the learning here?
Developing deeper self-awareness creates our ‘anchor’ for personal action. Understanding what our own unique ‘anchor’ is enhances the clarity of who we are. This ‘anchor’ is deeply embedded in what we believe, it is what drives our passion and living in alignment with it brings fulfilment and joy. This leads to us being creative, innovative and having a strong sense of wellbeing.
Living successfully together in the 21st century is about having the courage to be who we really are and endeavouring to keep learning and growing. It’s about knowing the strengths we each bring and growing those to add value for a greater good. It’s about living each day as your best self. Always ensuring we display compassion for self and others will develop connections and strengthen wellbeing. Ultimately displaying vulnerability builds trust authenticity and community. It is about being real, being human. In the words of Brene Brown, “To practice courage, compassion, and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, I’m all in.”
Take care, live well
The Bats Team