Insight The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World

987baz

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I just started reading, or rather listening to this book (via Audible) here is the link to Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Insight-Power-Self-Awareness-Self-Deluded-World/dp/1509839623

I found it through a SOTT article Getting to know how others see you can help you see yourself where the author and the book was mentioned.

Here is the synopsis:
Do you understand who you really are? Or how others really see you? We all know people with a stunning lack of self-awareness – but how often do we consider whether we might have the same problem?

Research shows that self-awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st century – the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships. Unfortunately, we are remarkably poor judges of ourselves and how we come across, and it’s rare to get candid, objective feedback from colleagues, employees, and even friends and family.

Integrating hundreds of studies with her own research and work in the Fortune 500 world, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich shatters conventional assumptions about what it takes to truly know ourselves – like why introspection isn’t a bullet train to insight, how experience is the enemy of self-knowledge, and just how far others will go to avoid telling us the truth about ourselves. Through stories of people who’ve made dramatic self-awareness gains, she offers surprising secrets, techniques and strategies to help readers do the same – and therefore improve their work performance, career satisfaction, leadership potential, relationships, and more.
Another example of why networking is so valuable!

And here is a review left on the amazon page which I think sums up the book (from what I have read so far)

This was an interesting book about the importance of being self-aware. A fact that's noted throughout the book is that one can be externally self-aware without being internally self-aware and vice versa. Self-confidence doesn't have anything to do with self-awareness as studies quoted concluded that the most confident are generally the least competent. Interestingly, despite all the literature on self-confidence, this book mentions that the overall confidence of the population has dramatically gone up over the last decades as opposed to the mid-twentieth century. Self-absorption has gradually become the norm with the proliferation of the social media outlets and obsessions with selfies, though paradoxically, the practices are more about presenting oneself than connecting with others. The books also delves into the differences between people who are truly delusional and those who are aware but don't care. The book cautions to avoid self-awareness thorns like ruminations (thinking and analyzing too much something that has already happened) or being too introspective (obsessed with past events as a way to explain one's present struggles). Instead, the author advises to focus on what will happen, and, when studying the reasons for one's happiness, as the "what" ("what do I not like, and what can I do to change it") rather than the "why" ("why I don't like something) question, which can sometimes be too hard to answer and ultimately get one confused and even more stuck in his problems. The book is filled with personal stories, and various studies. Many phrases are typed in bold throughout the book, making it easy to extract the main point from the sections or to skim. One repeated advice throughout the book is to ask others about how you come across, since they're more objective than self-analysis. On the other hand, it's also mentioned that most people have a hard time being truthful with others, and are thus unlikely to really tell them, making this a challenging endeavor. Overall, an interesting book.
Rumination and overthinking is something I am currently working hard to overcome, so hopefully there will be some more information in this book to get me thinking and doing. I do like her idea of asking what instead of why. And I am trialing not writing in my journal every night, as one of her recommendations, as I tend over-analyze .
 

beetlemaniac

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When I'm alone I find it all too easy to fall back into those old mental thought-loops about why things are the way they are. "Dredging and mulling" the past seems to be part of that default mode network's modus operandi. It's painful to see this disconnected-ness and hard for me to get out of it solely by willpower. It's so fulfilling to be connected to others and to be able to be vulnerable enough to receive feedback. It will hurt somewhat but in the long run it's so good for you. By being connected to others we end up being more connected to our true selves as well. The only caveat being it doesn't work instantly and it's a slow process of strengthening that ability to connect, while at the same time nurturing a feeling of safety and security within oneself that will allow one to better weather storms ahead.

I also agree and have a similar experience regarding journaling being counterproductive when it seems to be just "circling the drain" i.e. reinforcing ruminative and regressive patterns of thinking that prevent one from being able to move ahead in life. Truth is such a beautiful thing as it really can set us free - but our psychophysiological make-up is such that we can only handle a limited spectrum of it - if it is associated with past pains, hurts, shame, anger and regret (add your "favorite" negative emotion to the list). I guess this is one of the lessons that life in 3D offers a lot of us, and each person in the forum and out of it seems to have their own unique way of dealing with it, whether it be through art, music, community service, their vocation, yoga, all kinds of pathways towards healing.

That doesn't preclude the fact that the truth of things won't be revealed in the future. In fact - I think it inevitably does. It's only a matter of when those emotional patterns get unlocked and the information sort of gets released to our consciousness. Much like how suffering works at a DNA level, to change embedded past traumatic patterns gradually?

Thanks for posting about this interesting book baz987.
 

Chu

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Thank you for recommending this book, Baz978! I just got it, and it really sounds like a good find. It's next on my list after heavier reading.
 

987baz

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Thank you for recommending this book, Baz978! I just got it, and it really sounds like a good find. It's next on my list after heavier reading.
No worries Chu, it's a pretty "light"book compared to some of the heavier books on the reading list of late for sure, but some interesting insights IMO :)

When I'm alone I find it all too easy to fall back into those old mental thought-loops about why things are the way they are. "Dredging and mulling" the past seems to be part of that default mode network's modus operandi. It's painful to see this disconnected-ness and hard for me to get out of it solely by willpower. It's so fulfilling to be connected to others and to be able to be vulnerable enough to receive feedback. It will hurt somewhat but in the long run it's so good for you. By being connected to others we end up being more connected to our true selves as well. The only caveat being it doesn't work instantly and it's a slow process of strengthening that ability to connect, while at the same time nurturing a feeling of safety and security within oneself that will allow one to better weather storms ahead.
Agreed, I think by instilling an external awareness (how people perceive us) as well as the more obvious internal awareness we get a better picture of ourselves as we are, rather than how we think we are.

I also agree and have a similar experience regarding journaling being counterproductive when it seems to be just "circling the drain" i.e. reinforcing ruminative and regressive patterns of thinking that prevent one from being able to move ahead in life. Truth is such a beautiful thing as it really can set us free - but our psychophysiological make-up is such that we can only handle a limited spectrum of it - if it is associated with past pains, hurts, shame, anger and regret (add your "favorite" negative emotion to the list). I guess this is one of the lessons that life in 3D offers a lot of us, and each person in the forum and out of it seems to have their own unique way of dealing with it, whether it be through art, music, community service, their vocation, yoga, all kinds of pathways towards healing.
I have eased off on the journal for the last week or so, and have only written in the journal when something of significance has happened that day. So far I have not seen any major changes, good or bad, but will continue the experiment and see what happens.

Yes we all have our own ways of dealing with these things that is for sure, for me it's being creative, and I think that with my music especially, the subconscious can be let out more easily.

I just finished the book, the last few chapters deal more with self awareness in a work environment, but there are still a few interesting stories in there about how blissful unaware some people are and even some people who a aware but don't care and how to possibly deal with them.

I had another kinesiology session today and mentioned the book to my kinesiologist. Specifically i told her about an exercise in which you invite a trusted person, who should not be family, to dinner and ask them what the worst thing about you is. You can't get defensive and you must explain to them that you want them to be fully honest with you so you can understand and work on what ever it is that they tell you. My kinesiologist told me that, actually this was a part of her training to be a kinesiologist and that she asked two of her close friends who did not know each other, and they both told her the same thing, which was certainly food for thought for her. I would like to do this exercise but I just need to find someone (or a few someone's) who know me well enough and will be brutally honest.
 

beetlemaniac

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No worries Chu, it's a pretty "light"book compared to some of the heavier books on the reading list of late for sure, but some interesting insights IMO :)
I'm also reading a "light" book that I picked up on Amazon's Kindle store as well. I do think that I'm not at the level where I can handle some of the material in those heavier books, and I need to tamp down my ego a bit regarding my understanding of the material regarding genetics, psychology and other subjects. An intuitive understanding of things isn't enough, and the false confidence borne of that can lead one to wiseacre (I think I did a bit of that in the post above). I have a lot of simpler concepts which I'd do well to get a firm understanding of before I can move to something more complex. Just my feeling about the reading material at the moment. Reading @Chu's post made me reflect and take a step back with the thought, "Ah, so even forum elders need to read more simple stuff once in a while!".

Agreed, I think by instilling an external awareness (how people perceive us) as well as the more obvious internal awareness we get a better picture of ourselves as we are, rather than how we think we are.
If you would, there was a poem that Laura posted some time ago, about the same subject of how knowing what others see in us is a very valuable thing, and gives an individual power over themselves, to the degree that that feedback is accurate. I hope to get more feedback about my behavior. Here it goes:

That's the human problem. We think we are acting this way or that way, driven by good motives, but that may not be at all what others experience in relation to us.

Burns original

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

Standard English translation

And would some Power give us the gift
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!
 

Chu

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I'm also reading a "light" book that I picked up on Amazon's Kindle store as well. I do think that I'm not at the level where I can handle some of the material in those heavier books, and I need to tamp down my ego a bit regarding my understanding of the material regarding genetics, psychology and other subjects. An intuitive understanding of things isn't enough, and the false confidence borne of that can lead one to wiseacre (I think I did a bit of that in the post above). I have a lot of simpler concepts which I'd do well to get a firm understanding of before I can move to something more complex. Just my feeling about the reading material at the moment. Reading @Chu's post made me reflect and take a step back with the thought, "Ah, so even forum elders need to read more simple stuff once in a while!".
Well yes! At least in my case, FWIW, I read as much as I can (first thing in the morning, mostly, because afterwards I know it will be harder to manage on busy days), but as long as I am able to concentrate. I also take notes (not direct quotes, but summarized ideas, thoughts that the reading inspired, and often lots of questions), and pause to think. I see no reason in just reading for the sake of being "caught up with the list". I want to be able to connect some dots, even if they are small. To be able to recount what I read if someone asks, to have a tiny answer for someone in need here. Just the theory is not enough, IMO. So, even when that means slowing down, it's okay. I also sometimes need a dictionary, Wikipedia, or whatever, to understand basic concepts that are taken for granted in a book. AND, sometimes I also pick a book of my personal interest (linguistics), and audiobooks for when I am doing more manual work. It's funny how it works, because the "break" often gives me an idea, or makes me understand better the heavier book I read before.

At night I definitely read light stuff (mysteries, old novels, biographies, books in my native tongue, short stories in a language I'm learning), because I know it's useless for me to read things that require more concentration (I have no trouble falling asleep). I'm almost done with the Karamazov Brothers (Dostoevsky) now. Yes, it's a novel! But it has some really good passages that also make me think. In a funny way, again, it's useful. So, I think that we have to be careful with what we read, of course, but also be a bit flexible and open to as much input as possible, so that those connections have room to grow. Laura did the heaviest job by selecting so many good books for us!

Anyway, that's just my way of doing it, but everyone is different, and we all need to be realistic about what we can do and how to best learn depending on our strength, energy, workload, routine, etc. OSIT.
 

beetlemaniac

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Well yes! At least in my case, FWIW, I read as much as I can (first thing in the morning, mostly, because afterwards I know it will be harder to manage on busy days), but as long as I am able to concentrate. I also take notes (not direct quotes, but summarized ideas, thoughts that the reading inspired, and often lots of questions), and pause to think. I see no reason in just reading for the sake of being "caught up with the list". I want to be able to connect some dots, even if they are small. To be able to recount what I read if someone asks, to have a tiny answer for someone in need here. Just the theory is not enough, IMO. So, even when that means slowing down, it's okay. I also sometimes need a dictionary, Wikipedia, or whatever, to understand basic concepts that are taken for granted in a book. AND, sometimes I also pick a book of my personal interest (linguistics), and audiobooks for when I am doing more manual work. It's funny how it works, because the "break" often gives me an idea, or makes me understand better the heavier book I read before.
My apologies for the late reply, I needed things to simmer down before I could even think of replying. I also don't want to diverge to far from Baz's original post so I won't be too long. Thank you for sharing your personal take on it Chu, it means a lot coming from you. I think I have sometimes been very manic (more than sometimes) in my reading. It seems to me like I am desperate for some kind of connection to what I'm reading which usually entails shifting to a "higher" mode of thinking. I sometimes am frustrated by a sense of meaninglessness in what I read- like the words literally do not mean anything to me. It's weird and disconcerting when that happens.

Regarding taking your time with any reading material, I am reminded of the C's advice to Laura to take her time as she journeys through the various realms of knowledge, so that, as she walks along the winding paths, she wouldn't miss the hidden gems along the way.

At night I definitely read light stuff (mysteries, old novels, biographies, books in my native tongue, short stories in a language I'm learning), because I know it's useless for me to read things that require more concentration (I have no trouble falling asleep). I'm almost done with the Karamazov Brothers (Dostoevsky) now. Yes, it's a novel! But it has some really good passages that also make me think. In a funny way, again, it's useful. So, I think that we have to be careful with what we read, of course, but also be a bit flexible and open to as much input as possible, so that those connections have room to grow. Laura did the heaviest job by selecting so many good books for us!
Since you mentioned Brothers, I picked it up on Kindle and started reading. Boy! thanks for the suggestion! It's so interesting! So many elements I could identify in my own life being played out - the main ones being religion & family. It was so relate-able - especially the part where they were describing the elders of the Russian Church, it's so similar to how I imagine the forum and the elders to be, the resemblance is uncanny, actually!

I'm only now beginning to appreciate the amount of mental labor that went into setting up the Cassiopaean worldview. It was no mean feat. Yes, it's a wonderful legacy that Laura has created and I hope I can do it some justice.

Anyway, that's just my way of doing it, but everyone is different, and we all need to be realistic about what we can do and how to best learn depending on our strength, energy, workload, routine, etc. OSIT.
Thank you for taking the time to provide me with your personal point of view. Mental strength and resilience are currently something I'm working on. I find that writing down things to do for the day the night before really helps in keeping my mind focused for the day. It keeps the predator in check as well - because deviation from the plan is usually the predator trying to get what it wants - which is usually just a distraction or a time-waster.
 

Approaching Infinity

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We covered a lot of the interesting bits on the show linked to above, but here are a few of the things I found interesting. A lot of what she covers has been learned here over the years of forum activity (mirrors, 'billboards falling on your head', others see you better than you see yourself, etc.), but it's nice to have it all in one place - plus a few extra insights that tie it all together. These are culled from my highly truncated notes, so for more details, read the book! ;)

First, she points out the fact that there are two distinct types of self-awareness: internal and external (i.e., how others see you). And she points out that there is no correlation between the two. You can have a lot of internal self-awareness, and no external - and vice versa. Both are necessary, but the vast majority of people need feedback in order to gain external self-awareness.

She points out that the more experience, reputation, and prestige you have, the more likely you are to overrate your own abilities. She calls this "Steve disease" after one of her case studies. And it's not the same thing as Dunning-Kruger, where the least competent people are the most confident. Someone with Steve disease may be competent, but they still overrate their abilities (e.g., 99% of engineers think they're above average, 94% of professors, etc.). Leaders (CEOs, managers, etc.) are in the worst position - "CEO disease" - because not only are you more likely to overrate your self-image and abilities (past successes lead to overconfidence, making it harder to hear feedback), chances are you'll be surrounded by yes-men underlings who are afraid of giving objective feedback. She calls this latter the MUM effect: keeping mum about undesirable messages. The best way around this in a corporate setting is '360 feedback', which is an anonymous feedback system designed to give some basic observations. Anonymity eliminates the MUM effect. Some general advice: "Surrounding yourself with people who disagree with you is one of the most fundamental building blocks of leadership success." Only subordinates (not the managers and CEOs themselves) are able to accurately assess their bosses' performance and promotability.

She points out how hard it is to receive objective feedback, but that it's necessary. So we should be "braver but wiser", brave enough to discover the truth on our own terms. Paraphrased: "Receive feedback with grace, reflecting on it with courage, respond to it intelligently with purpose." You really need a positive mindset in order to do so, otherwise you're more likely to reject the feedback. That's where internal self-awareness helps, i.e., self-acceptance regarding what you know are your strengths - basically reminding yourself that you're not a TOTAL failure, you just have some things to work on. Just thinking about the things you KNOW are good about yourself makes it much more likely that you will receive negative feedback well and work with it. Same with reminiscing about good/happy memories - that makes us less defensive and less likely to be delusional. And we should be actively seeking and asking for it.

Common excuses for avoiding feedback: I don't need to ask (you do, because others are unlikely to give it to you), I shouldn't ask (e.g., because it would make us look weak - no, people are actually socially rewarded for asking for feedback and receiving it with grace), I don't want to ask (yeah, it hurts, but we can do it on our own terms, and she describes the ways we can do that). She recommends assembling a small group of people close to you to ask for feedback. You need to see these people regularly, so they can observe your behavior in action and then give feedback. She recommends not taking on more than 1 or 2 hypotheses at a time. E.g., she gives one example of a woman asking her chosen observers to tell her when she was and wasn't being abrasive. Then over the next month, and after, they had regular meetings to discuss it and give her examples. Take others' opinions seriously, but evaluate it and determine how and if to act on it. Don't just accept it without question. You have to understand the feedback and determine for yourself whether changing some aspect of yourself will be helpful or not. Just changing yourself based on feedback without doing that is to have external awareness, but not internal awareness. You have to know yourself and why it would be helpful or not to put any change into action.

On self-esteem: people with high self-esteem are actually more violent and aggressive. People who see themselves with rose-colored glasses are worse at dealing with criticism, failure and setbacks. And people see them as more deceitful, arrogant, defensive, thin-skinned. "There is an inverse relationship between how special we feel and how self-aware we are." Employees are good at spotting narcissistic leaders, and they're rated lowest in terms of effectiveness by their teams. Interestingly, there's a correlation between CEOs' narcissism and the size of their signatures.

As I mentioned in another post, introspection isn't useful and rumination is deadly. If you tend to analyze good memories, you'd be better of just reliving them in your imagination. "Analyzers showed less personal growth, self-acceptance, and well-being than those who relived happy memories." And ruminators "generally ignore or avoid feedback, lest it send them down the rabbit hole. They therefore tend not just to be poor perspective-takers, but also to be more narcissistic and self-absorbed than non-ruminators." Ask 'what' instead of 'why' questions. Journal according to the Pennebaker method, not as a way to vent. She also recommends writing an autobiography and gives a structured method to do so.

Mindfulness is helpful, i.e. self-observation, noticing what you're thinking, feeling, and doing without judgment or reaction. But people tend not to do this, and instead to be constantly distracted by something, e.g., their cell phones. But when we're not focused on the present, "We lose the ability to monitor and control our thoughts, feelings and behaviors."

On how to receive feedback: the 3R model: receive (mine it for possible truth), reflect (give yourself days or weeks to understand feedback, see if/how it will affect you long-term, how pervasive it is, if want to act on it), respond only after reflection.

Tools for dealing with delusion people: For lost causes who don't accept any feedback, there's not much to do except go with the flow and reframe things (e.g., see it as a learning experience, an opportunity to manage your own reactions). For people who are "aware but don't care" (i.e., know they're jerks but think it's effective and a good thing), you need to state your needs clearly, set clear boundaries, and walk away if necessary. And for people who are nudgeable, who just don't yet know they need to change, you can confront them (with compassion). Two quotes: "Being on a team with just one unaware person cuts the team's chances of success in half, and unaware bosses hurt their employees' job satisfaction, performance, and well-being." "By managing our own reactions, we often have more control than we think."

There's some good stuff in Chapter 9 on organizations, but I haven't taken notes on that chapter yet.
 

Beau

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Excellent review, thanks AI! This one certainly looks worth checking out, thanks for the heads up baz.
 

987baz

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Thanks AI, I agree with Beau great review! I didn't actually take any notes from this one as I was listening to it rather than reading it, so it's great to have these in writing so to speak for reaffirmation on the subjects mentioned.

For me it was interesting to see how external awareness (or lack of) plays a part in my make nice program, the info of which, I found crossed over in the next book I read called Not Nice (there is a thread on it here Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty )


A little of topic, but I have just started reading The Rational Male trilogy after seeing Scotty and Beau mention it on FB...whoaa nelly, now there's a rabbit hole of worms, woud be very interested to see what others think of this series!!!?
 

Chu

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I recently finished reading this book, and found it to be quite good! I had a hard time liking the author, because she seemed too "business oriented" for my taste, and too shallow at times. But that's just a personal opinion, and she does a good job condensing a lot of research that we actually have done here (Wilson, Pennebaker, Franklin's list, etc.), and adding some more. It really makes clear how important feedback is, and how little we know about ourselves if left on our own.

The parts that I found to be more useful were those where she wrote about the dangers of rumination, the 3R model and the 360 feedback (all summarized by AI above, thanks!) but every chapter contained something new, and other things that most of us here already know, but which are good to keep in mind and put into practice more often. I'd say it is an excellent book for those who haven't been doing a lot of networking here, or haven't had a chance to read much about self-insight and how we come across.
 

luc

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I haven't read the book yet, but I thought your show on it was really excellent! Thanks for that!
 

Joe

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I also agree and have a similar experience regarding journaling being counterproductive when it seems to be just "circling the drain" i.e. reinforcing ruminative and regressive patterns of thinking that prevent one from being able to move ahead in life.
Just a note on journaling. A very effective way (I've found) to approach it is to do it at night, in bed before sleep ideally, and just write out whatever comes to mind in an 'automatic writing' kind of way. There is so much 'noise' and undealt-with thoughts and ideas rolling around in many people's minds. This can cause us to not sleep well (waking up during the night 'wide awake' even though tired), feel anxious and ill-at-ease. When you're done just writing out what comes to mind, leave it there. No rumination. Close the journal and either read a book or go to sleep. FWIW.
 
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