The Power of Awareness
Bill Cottringer

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” ~Abraham Maslow.

Focusing on one thing in life being more important than any other is a common mistake we often make. This usually results in over-embracing a half-truth and missing 50% of all the other things that are equally important. But, I am going to make an exception to this safe rule in the case of awareness being the one thing to focus on, above all others. This is because it affects everything that happens behind all success and failure—from having and acting on accurate memories of the past, to perceiving and dealing with present situations and realities as they really are, to being able to predict and influence the best future.

Psychologists tell us that the self-awareness component in our consciousness is what sets us apart from other animals. However this may be a conflict of terms. Self-awareness is a bit tricky, being that most of our thoughts, actions and motivations are actually unconscious. We usually have to spend much time and effort trying to translate this unconscious content into our conscious awareness. More importantly, general awareness is above self-awareness in the overall hierarchy and it should be self-evident that all living things have some level of awareness, or they simply couldn’t survive by chance or luck alone.

If awareness is so important, what exactly is it and how do we get more of it? The simplest and most complete definition of awareness is seeing reality as accurately and completely as we can, given our current mental and emotional skills. Maybe Mark Twain said it more eloquently when he was defining his own awareness of what common sense is—“The simple knack of seeing something the way it is and doing something the way it should be done. I don’t think you can add or take away anything from that definition and that often means you have found a truth you can take to the bank.

Now the real challenge comes into play when we set out to get more of this wonderful resource we have named awareness. First, we have to surrender a highly valued, inter-related and secured prize possession we have locked away in our iron safe, to be able to be able to see how we can increase of awareness and all the other good things it can bring.

Pride, Ego, Distrust & False Beliefs

At this point in most of our self-development journeys we know the dangers of these self-defeating afflictions, but somehow they still seem to persist, This is strange when you consider all the libraries of self-help books and programs offering sensible strategies for keeping these things in check, and the money invested for doing so. This is a multi-billion dollar business we are talking about that really can’t come close to justifying itself by the results it gets from the time, money and efforts involved.

So why do these blinders continue to get in the way? They collectively represent a huge, impervious blind spot in our vision, being so close to us like our noses or teeth being not able to see themselves. And mirrors don’t show these things at all, so out of sight, out of mind. These invisible faculties do much harm behind the scenes with their pervasive influence.

The few smart people who grow past their self-limiting pride and egos and let go of their trust issues and false beliefs, begin to access virtually unlimited awareness and become unstoppable. How do they manage doing this? I studied success for decades and never discovered any useful secrets to doing this. But then when I started focusing on my own failures, I quickly had a light-bulb ah-ha moment, repeatedly until it finally stuck with me.

The energy itself arising from pride, ego, distrust and false beliefs keeps us from doing anything about these blinders. Trying to get rid of these things is, as Alan Watts used to say, like trying to pull yourself up by tugging on your own bootstraps. The more you pull up, the more your foot pushes down. It is a dreadful vicious circle to the nowhere zone.

The turning point here is when you decide to quit running from or otherwise denying your own inevitable failures. And in admitting enough failure experiences you begin to have doubts about how you may be wrongly approaching things with wrong thinking, perceptions or actions. From there it is easier to finally become more aware of the real problems—your own ego, pride, distrust and false beliefs—and then work on noticing those things closer and how they get in the way, instead of wasting time trying to deal with all the noisy symptoms they cause.

The key to recovering the awareness you were born with is this simple formula: Don’t take yourself or your beliefs too seriously, don’t run from failure and just look for the few things in life that are whole truths and not just different sides to the same coin. Evolving into awareness seems to be a natural force in our universe, but it can be facilitated by relaxing your grip slightly on all that your think you know to be so, when you know better.

“Ultimately spiritual awareness unfolds when you're flexible, when you're spontaneous, when you're detached, when you're easy on yourself and easy on others.” ~Deepak Chopra.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “Thoughts About Happiness” (coming from Covenant Books). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or