One of the finest qualities of being human

"The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself."
— Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

"You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another."
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises


Some people are not at all interested in exploring who they are, why they do what they do, and believe what they believe. Many of them are quite successful. Many are not.

Others seem to explore every detail of their psyche and motivation for everything they think, do and say. Many of them are quite successful. Many are not.

However, I have observed that the happiest people among us have at least some interest in the role they play in what happens to them.

Their life is worth living, according to Socrates, because they do not operate on automatic pilot, but stop once-in-awhile to explore how the decisions they make impact the world in which they find themselves. They also recognize the world has a major impact on them and they are not masters of everything they do.

Many years ago, I suggested a metaphor that explains the way in which we can examine our lives. It is an invisible backpack into which we keep the should’s and ought to’s that were placed there by our caregivers. We also add our own experiences, beliefs, failures, successes, etc.

Exploring how all of that impacts our lives today can be a very liberating experience. That is why we have developed a whole subsection in “Ideas Worth Considering” that is devoted to “Your Invisible Backpack.” I suggest that it is the best way to explore the important quality of Self-Awareness.

Exploring SELF-AWARENESS in Your Life

What does self-awareness mean to you?

There have been times in your life when everything worked out just as you expected it would. Other times, nothing seemed to work as planned. When you look back on the former and the latter events, to what extent do you feel that there was something you did to contribute to that success or failure of an event and hesitate looking any closer for fear of what you may discover?

If an important plan failed and you suspect you played a role in that failure, how might a sense of guilt keep you from looking more closely at what you did or did not do? Most importantly, if you haven’t forgiven yourself for your error because you don’t know how, please read the article on the quality of forgiveness of others and of oneself.

What symbol best represents self-awareness—something that can remind you of this important quality when you would rather not examine your role in how things have turned out in your life?

This exploration of self-awareness was created by Arlene Harder, MA, MFT, resident of Villa Gardens, a Front Porch Retirement Community in Pasadena, California. The material is not copyrighted and may be used with attribution. (Photo on Pexels by Adbiram Prakash.)