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Self-awareness is the process of identifying the ways we’ve been formed, and inviting Jesus to bring healing.

Self-awareness is the process of identifying the ways we’ve been formed, and inviting Jesus to bring healing. It allows us to live more consciously in line with what we say we believe and value.

Self-awareness is a deeply historical Christian path, beginning with the Psalms, with prayers like, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24). Later in the fourth century, Augustine would write a book called Confessions, in which he considers how his own desires and ambitions had separated him from Christ. Through self-awareness, he found Christ was there all along - sovereignly leading and saving him. John Calvin’s whole premise to his Institutes begins with "Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”

Two Ways Our Identity Has been Formed 

The two common areas through which we form our identities are relationships and culture.

In our closest relationships we learn strategies in order to feel loved and feel safe. Sometimes these strategies can be defenses against harm or safeguards against fear, guilt, and shame. These defenses can desensitize us to the love of Christ and keep us from giving ourselves in love to others. Self-awareness seeks to bring these defenses to light.

We also become formed by the culture around us. The stories we’ve been told, the communities we’ve lived in, the institutions around us, the media we’ve been exposed to, all tell us something about ourselves and what is the good life. Self-awareness tries to give a discerning look into how we’ve been formed by our culture.  

Moving Toward Self-Awareness 

For the Christian, growing in self-awareness is possible only because we’ve received an identity that we don’t have to work for or protect—it’s ours as a gift (2 Cor. 5:17). And as those renewed in Christ, we have the hope for transformation and change; he who began a good work in us will see it through to the end (Phil. 1:6). In order to grow in self-awareness, we need the presence of another mature Christian who can see things that we can’t - discerning with the Spirit the ways we’ve been formed by our relationships and culture. Christians have called this kind of relationship “spiritual direction.” It’s in this kind of discipling relationship where we can experience Christ ministering through a member of his body to heal the wounds and bring about real change.