Can you be too self aware?

Someone told me at a conference recently that she was impressed by how self aware I was. And then, letting go of the point of the exercise (which was to give a compliment) she added, "almost too self-aware."

I know what she meant. Being self aware can lead to too-much-information syndrome. The self is a complex entity: getting to know it is a task that consumes a lot of mental energy. Using what you know requires even more. It can seem that it would be easier to just take a shot in the dark and hope you were making the right choice. It often seems easier not to notice that the self of which we are not aware is already having an impact on the people around us.

Being too self-aware is like being too alive: it means you can't hide from your interdependence with the world and it means you're going to get hurt. Sometimes you will be hurt because you will be aware of things in your life that you love and that other people threaten. Sometimes you will be hurt because  you will have to own up to things in yourself that scare you or shame you or make you anxious. Sometimes you will know your own desire and that will scare people who want you to stay safe and not take chances.

There is no such thing as too alive, even though alive comes with disadvantages. There is no such thing as too self-aware. There is only a endlessly complex journey into a self that is bigger and more complicated than you can know in awareness. Everything you discover in yourself is yours, and there is no point from hiding from the one person you carry with you in each moment.

Within you at this very moment there are strengths that you are afraid to own. They are the strengths to do the hard stuff, the strength to go it alone, the strength to lead. Owning them means doing something with them, even when what you do is a struggle and a challenge. But without owning them, they are like the mischievous fairies in children's stories, always showing up and making change when you least expect them.

The best way to predict your future is to work at knowing yourself better.


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