“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole.” — Carl Jung
Self-awareness is critical for achieving your highest potential and is essential in forming satisfying relationships and living a fulfilling life. In fact, research has shown that people who score high on self-awareness are happier, perform better, are more motivated, suffer from fewer psychological disorders, report greater wellbeing, learn faster, are more creative, have higher levels of empathy and score higher on emotional intelligence.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” Carl Jung
However, modern culture has popularised self-awareness by narrowing it down to merely “knowing your strengths”. Being aware of your strengths is definitely a valuable component in achieving better self-awareness, but strengths only forms a small part of the equation. To achieve complete self-awareness, you cannot just focus on identifying the “good” aspects of yourself, you also need to be aware of the “bad” aspects, or which Carl Jung refers to as “your darkness”. According to Carl Jung, people will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls. Yet, it is exactly this difficult, and often overlooked, part of achieving self-awareness that is not discussed. Facing your own darkness comes with pain, it does not comfort, but instead, disrupts, disturbs, and creates discomfort. However, it is only when you are absorbed in this period of discomfort that you are afforded the opportunity to fully grow and develop. Only once you get to know your own darkness, can you fully appreciate the darkness of others.
Personal transformation, can only occur when we have the courage to face our own shadows. We do not become enlightened by pretending to be perfect, but through having the courage to acknowledge and embrace our own darkness.
I’ll leave you with this quote as to the instrumental gift that self-awareness offers:
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Carl Jung