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By | Marc Wilson |

So you think you’re self-aware? 95% of people believe themselves to be self-aware. Recent research shows that just 10 to 15% of people are (Eurich, T – ‘Insight’ – Crown Business – 2017).

Self-awareness may be the most elusive and challenging skill we attempt to gain. It is a foundation for authentic leadership, it is required to be empathetic, it helps us conquer our insecurities, it is critical for robust, true friendship and love. Without it, we can never be sure that we will achieve happiness. Without self-awareness success will be ill-defined. Also, we will never be sure if how we act and react to others is real or merely a result of our attempts to craft our image to meet our own or others’ desires – or in order to avoid being what we fear.

For many of us, there are people around us who have a better understanding of us than we do ourselves. We delude ourselves based on what we want to be or don’t want to be. It is also a sad reality that our true self is often like a shadow – we forever catch glimpses of it (in other people, their reactions to us, etc), but we are often like a bewildered dog, barking in incomprehension. The shadow is our unconscious self.

There is a lovely aphorism that a shadow can only exist in the presence of light. It is explored in the story and metaphors of Peter Pan – a story in itself of growing up, or not. Only when we are self-aware, when we see our shadow, are we aware of the light – the happiness, knowledge and courage that gave rise to it. If we concentrate entirely on the shadow, we lose sight of the light. If we are scared of our shadow or fail to acknowledge it, we never appreciate the light at all. The shadow is not good or bad and neither is the light. Both exist in relation to one another. The shadow is not pretentious or made up – yet it can be skewed, tall and short depending on the angle of the light.

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