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Self Awareness - part 3: Discovering Who You Are

"When we are not afraid to enter into our own center and to concentrate on the stirrings of our own soul, we come to know that being alive means being loved."

Henri Nouwen

Have you ever gone canoeing? It’s been awhile since I have. I remembering paddling across a river in New Jersey with friends and across a lake near our home when our children were small. I remember standing in line to rent a canoe and suddenly having images pass before me of a boat tipping over and people struggling to find their way ashore.

I recently learned of something I wish I knew then. Some canoes, like ancient warships or modern automobiles are designed with tumblehome. A vehicle shaped with a tumblehome is designed to keep you upright. If you lean over one way, the vehicle will lean back, providing stability. The tumblehome keeps you centered.

We have been reflecting on self awareness — on what makes you, you. Self awareness is about understanding our character, feelings, motives and desires. When we see ourselves clearly we are more confident, creative and effective. When we are self aware we make better decisions, have stronger relationships and experience more contentment — we are more centered.

In the day in and day out rhythm of our lives it’s not easy to be centered. We often find ourselves living out who we are based on our success, our relationships or our power. In other words, we drift into autopilot where we are what we do, we are what others say about us, or we are what we have. Of course we know we are more than this. A deeper sense of self can lead us to truer understanding of ourselves.

Each thing in creation, each life brought into being is a living word spoken by God. Each life is a living word like no other word ever spoken. As C.S. Lewis said, each one of us “shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the divine better than any other creature can.” When we don’t fully understand ourselves or our circumstances — when the world presses in or even when it opens up with all kinds of options — it is God who can fill in the gaps and guide the way. We can only understand who we truly are by turning to our maker. With God we discover who we are, who we can be and we are made whole.

"Our to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny."*

There are serval things we can do to become more self aware. We can:

  • Try new things and step out of our comfort zone

  • Ask for feedback from someone we trust

  • Try to identity what triggers our negative emotions or behaviors

  • Look for patterns of thinking or behavior

  • Clarify our core values

  • Be curious about our own life

We also need something more. We need someone to tell us who we are. No one gives themselves their own name. Names are important. They convey meaning and define who we are. Henri Nouwen writes, "When we are not afraid to enter our own center and to concentrate on the stirrings of our own soul, we come to know that being alive means being loved." It is love that defines us.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! That is what we are.” **


*Thomas Merton

** I John 3:1


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