No matter how long or how often we reflect on our lives, self-awareness seems to be a fleeting concept that many of us have very little understanding of today, including me. First, let me say that I became interested in this subject simply because I realized I was interested. I became aware of a new curiosity. As a creative storyteller and entrepreneur, I am always seeking new ways to broaden my knowledge and understanding of skills that will make me better at telling stories.
Though many don’t think they are creative, the truth is, every single one of us is creative and every one of us is a storyteller. That’s what it means to be human. Photography is our most powerful creative key simply because we all love to capture our stories visually and instantly.
The camera is a tool we use to create a visual story that happens in our physical experience. When we capture our stories creatively and bring them to life the way we want, we inevitably build self-awareness. That’s the beauty of photography, it expands our awareness naturally.
Where does self-awareness come from?
Think about this. The physical act of capturing a photo, being captured in a photo, or simply looking at a photo, all of these experiences naturally build our self-awareness. This is because as a photograph pulls you into the present moment, it connects you to a feeling.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that self-awareness doesn’t actually start in the mind. It starts in the body. We can not think about being aware. The awareness we have of ourselves and the world around us expands when we connected to an experience we are having.
Only after we connect to that feeling do we about what to do with it. But when we can simply become aware of that feeling, without reacting, that’s when we’ve truly grasped a new level of awareness. We learn to build self-awareness by being present in our bodies, by doing and feeling. Not thinking. Thinking is when we lose self-awareness.
There are ebbs and flows through every experience we have. We can be aware in one moment and completely unaware of the next. Or we may think we’re aware but maybe we really aren’t. When we are unaware (not fully in our bodies, not fully in the moment) we are in reactive mode, and living in the ego. When we are fully aware, we see our truth, we feel connected to the universal ‘self’.
Many authors and philosophers, when describing the self and the ego, tend to fixate on the contrast of the two. They like to distinguish their differences and what makes the self good and the ego bad. This leads many to believe that as we build awareness, we will leave the ego behind. We will not live in our ego anymore. But the reality is, as we become more self-aware, we actually see that the ego is within the self. They are two sides of the same coin. Their contrasts cannot exist without their connection.
The ego is merely a manifestation of the self. Your personal self, your soul, the inner you, (what is only love and joy) can only manifest itself through the ego, through your physical experiences. We need our ego. It gives us clues and points us in the right direction, the direction towards the self. It shows us what we’re interested in, and drives us towards our creative powers, helping us to evolve. This is our outer journey through life. It is a different journey for each one of us.
Our inner journey is the same for all of us. It is to find peace, joy, and love by expanding our consciousness and FEELING connected to everything. We must discover our own personal powers by going within, leaning into our curiosities, and trusting they are our truths. By being fully present to both our inner and outer journeys, we expand our awareness.
A Clogged Mind Is An Unaware Mind
More often than not we live in a perpetual state of “busyness”, constantly going from one thing to the next without giving our minds a break. When your mind is running the show, you don’t have self-awareness. This is when stress and anxiety show up.
When we can’t seem to slow down, when we are so stuck in our thoughts, we cannot clearly see how clogged our mind really is. We can not feel into our bodies and ground ourselves in the present moment. We have no confidence. We are unsure. We can not see our truths and trust them. When our minds are running wild, we have no self-awareness which means we have no true inner journey. Therefore whatever outer journey we are on (whatever it is we are doing in that moment), has no clear purpose.
Build Your Awareness Muscle Anytime, Including Right Now.
Just like with any other muscle we want to build, we have to practice to build our full body awareness muscle. We have to become more in tune with our entire body and how it is existing to us, including our minds. As we become more physically aware of our body, how it feels, and what it’s focused on, we can begin to truly find self-awareness.
So how do we go about building our self-awareness muscle? I’ve learned a few different techniques that you can use anywhere, anytime, to help you become more aware. Let’s do an exercise. No matter where you are right now, you can do this while you keep reading.
Start by taking a deep breath. The act of consciously breathing immediately brings you into the present moment allowing you to feel grounded in your physical experience. You’ll notice too, as soon as you begin to breathe consciously, you stop thinking. The racket in your mind starts to dissipate.
Next, as you acknowledge your breath, begin to feel your body wherever it is. Notice your body expand and contract as you pay attention to your breath. Notice the weight of your body sitting or standing. Notice your level of comfort. Just notice your body in the space it takes up on this earth right now.
Now, as your awareness continues to expand, begin to notice your surroundings by identifying the world around you through your five senses. Ask yourself, What do I hear, smell, taste, see, and feel?
Ready to take it to the next level? Now notice the light around you. Is it bright, dark, soft, direct, or dim? Is it cooler or warmer?
Now notice any movement within that light. Now notice what your attention falls on. What do you naturally focus on?
That’s it! You’ve just expanded your awareness and you can continue to come back to this exercise time and time again. There is no right or wrong answer here. That’s the beauty of building awareness. You’re just allowing it to come to you.
Building Creative Confidence And Self-awareness With Photography Is Easy
Light, motion, and focus are the elements of photography that we identify to create our visual stories with a camera. We use self-awareness to build a more creative visual story by simply paying attention to our personal curiosities and expanding our awareness of the moment. If you want to skyrocket your skills now, check out our creative photography classes. Our classes are not only fun, interactive, and full of great photo tips, they will help you build your self-awareness every single time you pick up a camera to snap a shot.
Do you love photography and already notice it helping you build your self-awareness? Tell us your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.