Monday, December 28, 2009

What We Don’t Know About Ourselves and How to Fix It

It’s one of the saddest truths for us to get our heads around. We will always be unaware, to any certain extent we choose, of our own unawareness’s. There is, however, hope.

At a party, a workplace meeting or a social function, we relate with people from our unique worldview and we do so quite unilaterally—we do not generally see through others’ eyes or hear through others’ ears. Face it. We have one set of eyes and one set of ears; these equal one set of antennae for establishing the known context from which we respond to the world about us. It’s a pretty linear outlook. Well, that’s the jumping-off point.

This problem is probably central most to all our relationship “issues.”


When we’re acutely aware of this lack—that inability to know our many situational faults until it’s too late—we’re then possibly motivated to break through and force change within ourselves.

Impetus for change is mandatory if we’re going to want to be aware of our faults and be courageous enough to face the truth. And the benefit? Solid relationship outcomes. More confidence. Better and more frequent opportunities. The list goes on.

Awareness is the key issue, particularly regarding a problem relating intrinsically to a lack of awareness.

A process for increasing awareness in social situations includes:

1. Start to see yourself through the eyes and ears of others. Think, ‘With what I just said/did, what would Todd/Jessica (and others here) be thinking?’

2. Importantly, you don’t need to overanalyse the above situation there and then. You simply ask the question, thinking for a moment—ensuring you get a visual and audio recording of the cues to others’ body language—and then you forget it, moving on in your socialising. You then leave your subconscious brain to do the background work for you. (Our subconscious minds are marvels for this very thing.)

3. Sooner or later, with lots of practise, you’ll begin doing this activity quite subliminally—without being that aware of it—until you find yourself doing it. Then you’ll be rather impressed with yourself.

4. Don’t stop there though. Action is needed and that involves more analysis.


Addressing the stimuli brought up in the process of becoming aware simply takes more courage. We’re masters of our own destinies. The more ruthlessly courageous we are in addressing our shortfalls the better.

But, likewise, this above must also be matched with a rising sense of self-worth which facilitates critical thinking over whether to capitulate or stand one’s ground—for not all stimuli we get is of value. Do we take heed of everything? We employ our judgment to discern what we’ll heed and what we won’t.

This is where wisdom must enter the rooms of our hearts and minds, swathing a path of truth for both our wellbeing and development. Here wisdom clears out the rickety furniture and cleans the walls and carpets to good effect—character makeover bound.

Action is the final frontier in character development, especially regarding emotional intelligence. Let’s go through a process that can help:

1. Choosing the Behavioural Analysis Method: Depending on your personality type you might wish to simply either think deeply about the behaviours you might wish to transform about yourself or you might even like to write them down. Others—especially extroverts—might want to employ a coach or mentor.

2. Pinpoint Development Areas: Keeping it fun, you identify no more than two or three key personal traits to do either less of or more of. You must now work out the specifics involved in each. If it’s focusing on the other person to the exclusion of eavesdropping on others’ conversations you might focus on each word said, visualise the sentences, practice the ‘listener’s head-tilt,’ maintain eye contact, practice asking for specifying clarifications to prove you’re interested etc.

3. Visualise: This is a key ingredient even for those who wouldn’t ordinarily get into visualisation. It’s important to see yourself in the situations you’re endeavouring to develop in yourself—see them both through your eyes and through the other person’s. And thirdly, see yourself as a neutral observer (or third party) would. Only through visualisation do we get to practise our techniques before they’re performed “live.”

4. Seek Feedback: No one will be upset at you for being humbly honest. Find a couple of trusted mentors (if possible) and with their permission task them with giving you feedback. You must then seek the feedback. Receiving feedback will require courage from you, but most people find that once the elephant in the room has been identified they can then simply work with it. The fear’s stripped away very quickly. This is paradoxically very empowering.

Gaining the insights of others and truly being able to see a full picture of reality in social situations is a skill almost anyone can learn. It’s not simply a case of peripheral vision or hearing—it’s even more insightful and dynamic than that.

This ‘sixth sense’ can give us some great advantages in helping others:

è Feel more comfortable as we predict their needs, serving them;

è Find interacting with us inspiring and desirable;

è See that what they’re thinking about us, and our corresponding reactions, gives them a—‘They took notice of what I was not saying’ (in other words, ‘They’re listening to me’)—higher esteem for us, and likewise, makes them feel more positive about our rapport; and,

è Feel at ease with us. Having a trusting rapport helps as we light-heartedly cut to the chase with the other person on issues that might otherwise hold us back.

We can have almost anything our hearts are set upon if we have others truly at the centre of our focus.

Good relationship outcomes for others are generally always good outcomes for us too. That’s got to be our focus: others first. Get this right and everything seems right all of a sudden. You’ll see!

© 2009 S. J. Wickham.

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