Self-Awareness Breeds Critical Thinking

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For over thirty years, I pondered the complexities of life, wandering through the arid desert of uncertainty. All around me, people were flailing around frantically, like a mad flock of starlings. Even as I told myself that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing either, one day a profound realization finally struck me. 

At age thirty-five I suddenly realized that it took simply acknowledging my own uncertainties to truly begin to cultivating a deeper understanding of myself and the world at large. Once a source of great unease, this admission of not knowing has transformed into a pillar of enlightenment. 

Daily, I encounter so many minds which appear propelled by impulse rather than reason. The actions of most people I know seem guided by invisible strings, tugged around constantly by the puppeteers of others’ expectations. As I navigate through the uncaring, crashing waves of reality, I’m always struck by the glaring absence of critical thought, which leaves so many souls adrift. 

Each day, I watch a torrent of decisions made without pause or consideration. This cascading waterfall of reckless abandon fueled by such rash choices not only ruins the days of those that make them, but causes collateral damage to unsuspecting victims. All the mistakes I’ve watched my peers make is just a tiny part of the embodiment of human folly. Unfortunately, their mistakes have often left me to become washed up like driftwood on unfamiliar beaches.

Somehow, in the midst of these unscheduled walks on the rocky beaches of an existence on the fringe, I found unexpected comfort in my confession of uncertainty. It was a humbling revelation, as if while looking up to the vast cosmos above or out to the beckoning blue expanse of the ocean, I let either or both swallow me whole. 

I had to remind myself of the limitations of human understanding, and made a promise to myself to reexamine the choices I make and the paths I tread. In the face of the infinite, delusions of grandeur and infallibility wither away like autumn leaves. With this increased self-awareness, I now discovered the transformative power of my own uncertainty. 

Soon, this realization allowed me to break free from the tyranny of blind impulses. I began to seriously question the status quo, and to seek the truth often hidden beneath the murky waters of our collective unconscious. So, I ventured forth, armed with the knowledge that by admitting my lack of understanding, I’d already surpassed the horde of mindless drones that surrounded me. 

To be truly self-aware is to recognize our own fallibility. We must embrace the ambiguity that shrouds our existence, and make a conscious effort to seize the human experience for all its faults. Every day, I continue to walk the tightrope of life, teetering between the precipice of wisdom and the abyss of ignorance. I continue to embrace the power of my confession, which I often repeat to myself. 

In the moments when I once again whisper to myself, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing,” I soon find the strength to challenge the world’s shortcomings and, ultimately, I learn how to grow just a bit more to meet them head-on. 

Today, I invite you to join me in this ongoing introspective quest. Embrace your doubts and uncertainties as catalysts for your own growth. Challenge yourself to step back and observe the whirlwind of life with a curious mind. Ask questions, seek understanding, and allow your natural inquisitiveness to lead you.

Tomorrow, take a moment to consider the choices you make. Are they driven by genuine desire, or are they echoes of others’ expectations? Dare to pause in the rush of daily life. Reflect on your actions and decisions. Then, endeavor to infuse them with thoughtful intention. This deliberate pause will not only enhance your self-awareness, but also pave the way for more mindful living and better critical thinking.

On the next day, I encourage you to take a step further. Embrace the power of your self-awareness to question the norms you’ve taken for granted thus far. Delve ever deeper into the realms of critical thinking. Learn to ask better questions. The quality of your answers will depend on just how specific you frame your intentions. Don’t just ask what you want or what your goals are, but ask instead, what will excite you and bring you satisfaction each day?

Finally, use your newfound perspective to explore new paths and possibilities, to venture beyond the familiar. Let this journey of introspection be a continuous process, one that enriches your understanding and empowers you to navigate our complex lives with wisdom and grace.

But before any of this is possible, It takes a willingness to acknowledge our limitations, then indulge our eagerness to learn from them to truly set ourselves apart. Move forward with an open heart and a keen mind, always ready to embrace any lessons that life has to offer. Remember, accepting that you don’t know what you want, but instead asking what will engage and inspire you, is the very moment that you can set yourself apart from the maddening crowd.

~ Amelia <3

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Should Embrace Your Inner Critic as a Writer | Understanding and Working on Self-Awareness

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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