Systems of Thought
Wikipedia defines self-awareness as,
...the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. It is not to be confused with consciousness. While consciousness is being aware of one's environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that consciousness.
I have always had consciousness of myself and my environment but the awareness I have developed has set that consciousness in a context that enables me to make sense of it.
There are two systems of thought about awareness, or consciousness, which deserve a mention. They seek to organise our thinking about this subject and they provide good guidelines on how I can understand my own self-awareness.
The first is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. This sequential list of human needs from the most basic to highest sets a context to help me understand what drives me and why. In order of importance they are Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, Self-Actualisation and Self-Transcendence.
These are the basic needs I have for survival. My physical aspect looks in depth at these needs and how they can best be used to shape my current and future life.
Going outside of myself I see my need to feel safe in relation to the world at large. I develop ways of relating to others that holds them at bay focuses exclusively on my needs.
Love and Belonging
Starting in childhood I need to relate in a co-operative way with other people to thrive. Once safety is assured I need to develop a connection with others that makes sense of my life. This includes intimate relationships but also spreads wider. Much of my emotional make-up comes from here and from the need for safety..
Moving beyond love I need to feel good about myself. Self-esteem and respect are crucial in growing a powerful sense of self. I need to know that I make sense to others as well as to myself. This is central to my understanding of myself intellectually.
Maslow said, "What a man can be, he must be." As a full frown man I need to exploit my full potential and realise what I am capable of doing and being. This involves looking back at all the previous needs and fully understanding, accepting and living them.
This is a later addition by Maslow. It concerns the deep need to reach a goal outside of myself, as in my spiritual needs. This one is crucial for me and informs much of what I do.
The second system is similar but places more emphasis on a person's connection to others, to the outside world. It is called Spiral Dynamics. This suggests that we move through a series ways of looking at the world as we mature and grow in understanding. Culture influences and can limit how far we develop and grow through the levels detailed. Colours are used as simple guides to the levels
This is where people focus on their survival. They do not integrate with the world merely exist in it. The human race was here for tens of thousands of years.
This is known as a tribal mentality. People band together for safety, security and belonging. Life is all about the good of the group.
This is the level of the power god, the dictator. He uses others for his own ends. Purples, tribes, often end up being forced to obey a power god. This is classically seen in a cult.
This is again a group mentality where people follow the rules for the group. Religion is a prime example of a grouping which sets out rules for its existence.
This reverts to the level of an individual. It incorporates autonomy and independence. This is the level of the entrepreneur who seeks for gain and wealth.
Greens are about bonding and harmony. This is back to the group where universal togetherness becomes important. The rules are left behind and connections become important.
Back at the individual there is the yellow who believes in the flow of life. He understands complexity and the need for understanding and harmony.
This where as a group life is seen as an integrated whole. Connections through spirituality is essential as we are all part of the one consciousness.
I know I move around the needs and ways of looking at the world. using these systems as guides I can assess where I am on all levels and how I am relating to other people and the world at large.
- How do you see yourself in relation to the world?
- How are your needs being met?
- Do you have a way of assessing the context of where you are?