Self Awareness

Why self-awareness?

This really started, with my becoming an Innermetrix Consultant – which immediately led to a fascination in axiology (or formal axiology, or axiological science.. whatever..)

As an Innermetrix Consultant, the Genius Study kind of shook my world. Basically showing that the more self-awareness we had, the more authentic we could be, and the more successful we were (the more value we had) in our work, and lives. And so to be true to ourselves, first requires that we know ourselves. And the Innermetrix Advanced Insights, was, and probably still is – the most powerful (but not the only) tool for building reliable self-awareness.

In terms of axiology, the Hartman Value Profile, was one part of the three part Innermetrix Advanced Insights. And by far the most valuable part for me.

“The most fundamental presuppositions of axiological science are that human personalities and behaviors are structured around human values, that values are the keys to our personalities, and that by measuring values we can gain powerful insights into who people are and what they are likely to do.” [1]Preface to the Hartman Value Profile Manual of Interpretation 2nd edition 2006, Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D.

This may well start with something as simple as knowing what is good and bad for us. Situations, people, things, contexts, environments. What’s important, is to understand that the goodness and badness doesn’t exist within the thing itself – what is good or bad for us, depends on the combination of us and the thing. Some things are good for some people, and bad for others. Value – is different to goodness and badness. A bad thing, can have certain value in certain contexts. A good thing can not have value in certain contexts.

The things themselves – remain static. They don’t change. And so it  is ‘us’ that needs to be understood – as it is ‘us’ that makes a thing good or bad – for us. We are not good or bad, we are are ‘good for’ and ‘bad for’ – i.e. our value is contextual in terms of the world. BUT – our value is inherent in terms of our basic human-ness.

We all have the right to respect, appreciation, love, acceptance. As a human being.

BUT – our behaviours are contextual, and are subject to approval or disapproval – depending on what the context (other people, or our health/pleasure) requires. So  we (our behaviours) can be ‘good for’ some people, and ‘bad for’ others. We (our behaviours) can be ‘good in’ some contexts, and ‘bad in’ others.

Axiology, as mentioned above – presupposes that our behaviours are driven by our values. Behaviours, are a product of thinking and decision making. For the purposes of this subject – feelings – are seen as a part of thinking – the part the brain uses to attribute importance. The more emotion or feeling there is attached to a thought or idea, the more important it is.

So our brain gathers information, through our senses – processes that information (applies historical data to the current situation, to assess likely outcomes in advance) – and makes decisions on the best action to take.

How it thinks and makes decisions – is value based, not purely information based. The more value an ‘idea’ has, the more likely it is to be chosen as the best idea.



1Preface to the Hartman Value Profile Manual of Interpretation 2nd edition 2006, Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D.

A Quick Guide to Journaling

The primary goal of journaling, is self-development. Positive change. Growth. Self-development, or personal growth, comes from closing the gap between where we are now, and where we aspire to be.. In order to close the gap, we need to see the gap, and embrace the gap. We discern the gap – through reflection. Reflection in the sense of looking back at ourselves, from a place which is different from the place we were.

The key – is to separate the writing, and the in-the-moment thinking, from the later reflection back at what we wrote.

Because, we want to be able to ‘see’ how our own mind works – we need to be able to look at our thinking – by looking back at how we thought and reflected on what happened that day. And when we (critically) go over our journal entries – we will remember what we were journalling about – and we will see how we reflected at the time – and we will learn something about how we think and make decisions. Which is what we aim to become self-aware of.

So there are two critical aspects to journalling;

  1. Journal
  2. Reflect – ideally at the end of each wek – on what and how and why, you journalled the way you did. See your patterns. See ‘how’ your mind works, it’s biases and habits. The difference between when you’re exhibiting good judgement, and when it’s not so good 🙂

Write openly, honestly, and without judgement.

Aspects of Journaling

Expressing Our Emotions and Sensations

We need to be seen, heard and validated, for what we are experiencing in the moment. This is best done by using the emotion wheel, and the sensation wheel. And expressing what we see and feel when we look inside ourselves, cleanly and simply. No story of the why, who, when, where. Just the observation and description of the emotion or sensation.

I am feeling abandoned. I am feeling angry. I am feeling small. I feel tightness in my neck. I feel butterflies in my gut. I feel wobbly. I feel sick. I feel rage. I feel depressed.

If you want, you can also attribute that sensation or emotion to a part, or sub-personality, especally when it is things like shame, guilt, regret, humiliation, embarrasment, self-consciousness.

Then acknowledge that feeling or sensation, or part. And tell yourself you are ok at the same time. Thank the part if there is one.

Observe them, accept them, write them all down. Appreciate that you are ok, whilst feeling and observing them.

Write About What Has Happened, and What You Think

This is where you can write about what happened, again, observationally.

And then importantly – highlight what you noticed, what you didn’t, what you felt, what you didn’t, and what you concluded about the situation – what did it mean to you? The mind is a meaning-making machine. What meaning did your mind give to the event/situation/person/action.

What underlying belief does your ‘perception and conclusion’ confirm or deny?

Can you see any patterns?

The hardest part here, is complete honesty with yourself. If your results are poor, your judgement is likely poor. Our results are simply consequences of our actions. What understanding might you be missing? What did you not see, and might be blind to?

Write and Speak Your Primary Affirmation

Write your primary positive affirmation, and read it out loud to yourself 6 times, slowly and with emotion and conviction.

Write About Your Future Self

Highlight any obvious progress you have made towards your future self. Define your future self in terms of values, and how those values are expressed through behaviours.

Express Gratitude

What are three things, people, situations you feel gratitude for?

Reflections on Yesterday’s, or the Last Week’s Journal Entries

This is where you read yesterday’s entry (or your last one) and then write about what you notice.. can you ‘see’ yourself? where you are, how you think, how you make sense of situations, how you see yourself, what you aspire to, focus on, give attention to?

What are your conclusions – for change going forward?

What specifically will you do differently?

Write out scenarios that incorporate and enable you to express your reflective learning and growth.

Congratulate yourself on doing good work.

Intuitive Writings

Finish off by asking yourself if there’s anything you intuitively feel ought to be written out. Trust your intuition.

Traits of Giftedness

Note: These are traits of giftedness i.e. how it might show up, and not the kinds/areas of giftedness!

For a more in-depth coverage of the kinds of and areas of giftedness, see (intellectual, emotional, creative, sensual, physical, and existential)

Keen power of abstraction

Interest in problem-solving and applying concepts

Deep fascination with ‘how things work’

Constantly questions ideas/beliefs/concepts with ‘why’

Voracious and early reader

Large vocabulary

Intellectual curiosity

Power of critical thinking, skepticism, self-criticism

Persistent, goal-directed behavior

Independence in work and study

Diversity of interests and abilities

Creativeness and inventiveness

Keen sense of humor

Ability for fantasy & imagination

Openness to stimuli, wide interests



Independence in attitude and social behavior

Self-acceptance and unconcern for social norms


Aesthetic and moral commitment to self-selected work

Unusual emotional depth and intensity

Sensitivity or empathy to the feelings of others

High expectations of self and others, often leading to feelings of frustration

Heightened self-awareness, accompanied by feelings of being different

Easily wounded, need for emotional support

Need for consistency between abstract values and personal actions

Advanced levels of moral judgment

Idealism and sense of justice


Boundless enthusiasm

Intensely focused on passions – resists changing activities when engrossed in own interests

Highly energetic – needs little sleep or down time

Constantly questions

Insatiable curiosity

Impulsive, eager and spirited

Perseverance – strong determination in areas of importance

High levels of frustration – particularly when having difficulty meeting standards of performance (either imposed by self or others)

Volatile temper, especially related to perceptions of failure

Non-stop talking/chattering

Source:  Clark, B. (2008). Growing up gifted (7th ed.)   Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Prentice Hall.


Kazimerz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist whose work has been applied to the field of gifted children and adults, created a theory on ‘overexcitabilities’. An idea which has illuminated the concepts of intensity and sensitivity as they relate to giftedness.

In a nutshell – everyone responds to environmental stimuli – but the giften often seem to respond at much higher levels of intensity – as well as also being more sensitive to the stimuli themselves. Importantly – this happens in the brain. They experience the same stimuli as other people, but their brains process those stimuli at a more detailed and subtle level, and more intensely, than neurotypical people. This creates a heightened response in gifted individuals.

This heightened response, leads these gifted individuals to be so reactive, that their feelings, experiences, or visible reactions far exceed what one would typically expect.

Dabrowski categorised these or over-excitabilities, or over-sensitivities – into five main themes:

1. Intellectual Overexcitability

Insatiable curiosity, asking probing questions, concentration, problem solving, theoretical thinking – all of these are hallmarks of intellectual overexcitability.

These indidivuals have incredibly active minds that seek to gain knowledge, search for understanding and truth, and endeavour to solve problems. As youngsters, they devour books; as adults, they are still avid readers. Or some, still voracious readers.

Intensely curious as children, they ask so many questions that adults find their ears are tired. They are introspective and enjoy mental puzzles and challenges that involve focus, concentration, and problem solving, and they may be content to sit and contemplate by themselves for long periods of time.

Intellectually overexcitable people often focus on moral and ethical concerns and issues of fairness. They are independent thinkers and keen observers who may become impatient if others do not share their excitement and enthusiasm about an idea.

2. Imaginational Overexcitability

About three-fourths of gifted children during their pre-school years have one or more imaginative playmates who have imaginary pets and who live on imaginary planets in imaginary universes.

Adults with imaginational overexcitability are often dramatic in their interactions with others, as exemplified in persons like the improvisational comedian Robin Williams.

Adults can also be daydreamers. They can be gifted story tellers, fiction writers, and lyricists. Their mind-wandering may be quite creative and divergent and their mental reverie quite detailed and ornate, although they appear to be ‘spaced out’.

3. Emotional Overexcitability

This area, with its extreme and complex emotions and intense feelings, is often the first to be noticed in children by their parents, as being ‘highly sensitive’.

Emotionally overexcitable people show a heightened concern for and reaction to their immediate environment. They form strong emotional attachments to people, animals, places and things, and are often accused of overreacting.

The intensity of their feelings is seen in their compassion, empathy and sensitivity. These are the people who may begin to cry when they see a homeless person on the street, a small creature being killed, or when looking at powerful vista in nature, such as a sunset, a mountain range or the ocean etc.

They may show frequent temper tantrums as a child, and displays of rage, possibly related to losing a game, feeling left out, needing to be the best, or not getting their way.

Their strong emotions – profound sadness over the plight of others, as well as elation over some expected good fortune (or cognitive breakthrough when combined with intellectual overexcitability) – can be extreme, and also puzzling, to neurotypical people, or people who do not recognise these overexcitabilities as part and parcel of giftedness.

Adults who display emotional overexcitability tend to become involved in social or environmental causes, idealistically trying to help others or the natural environment.

They may become quite cynical or angry when they discover that their idealism and sensitivity is not shared by others.

4. Psychomotor Overexcitability

People with psychomotor overexcitability appear to have a heightened excitability of the neuromuscular system and an ‘augmented capacity for being active and energetic’.

They love movement for it’s own sake and they show a surplus of energy that is often manifested in rapid speech, fervent enthusiasm, intense physical activity, and a need for action.

When feeling emotionally tense, these persons may talk compulsively, act impulsively, display nervous habits, show intense drive (tending towards ‘workaholism’ or constant busyness), compulsively organise, become quite competitive, or even act out and behave antagonistically.

Though they derive great joy from their boundless physical and verbal enthusiasm and activity, others may find them overwhelming. They seem never to be still, and they may talk constantly, and so are often to be seen being told to sit down and be quiet.

People with psychomotor overexcitability are most at risk of being diagnosed as ADD/ADHD. Although children or adults with psychomotor overexcitability may be riveted to a task mentally, their bodies are likely to fidget and twitch in their excitement, in ways that can resemble hyperactivity. As adults, these individuals can be exhausting to be around.

Many of them learn to manage their psychomotor overexcitability through vigorous exercise or through doodling or knitting – activities that are generally acceptable – or they may jiggle their foot or legs, particularly when they are engaged with rapt attention.

5. Sensual Overexcitability

For the sensually overexcitable person, the sensory aspects of everyday life – seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing – are much more heightened that for others.

They may object to tags in the back of shirts, cannot wear socks with rough seams, or their seams have to be perfectly straight. The flicker and buzz of flourescent lights bother them greatly and may give them headaches. Odours, such as perfume, feel overwhelming to them. They react strongly to the texture or taste of certain foods. They become exhausted from the continuous presence of background noise.

Adults may find that the noise of meetings or the work setting bothers them significantly, or that they have an aversion to perfume, deodourants and strong scents.

Not surprisingly, many gifted children and adults with this particular overexcitability attempt to avoid or minimise environments of overstimulation and overwhelm.

On the other hand, they may get great pleasure from their unusual sensitivity to experiences with music, massage/touch/bodywork, language, art, and foods. They may even focus on pleasurable experiences so intently that the world around them ceases to exist for a time – which can also be a way of escaping the overwhelming environment.

Mostly taken from ‘Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Giften Chidren and Adults’, Webb, 2012

Ten Billion..

Well there’s something to think about..

Core Issue

These are characteristics of a particular issue..

People with this issue may;


  • think and feel responsible for other people – for other people’s well-being, needs, feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny.
  • feel anxiety, pity and guilt when other people have a problem.
  • feel compelled – almost forced – to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unsolicited advice, giving a rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings.
  • feel angry when their help isn’t effective.
  • anticipate other people’s needs.
  • wonder why others don’t do the same for them.
  • find themselves saying yes when they mean no, doing things they don’t really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing themselves.
  • not knowing what they want or need or, if they do, telling themselves that what they what and need is not important.
  • try to please others instead of themselves.
  • feel safest when giving.
  • feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them.
  • feel sad because they spend their whole lives giving to other people and nobody gives to them.
  • find themselves attracted to needy people.
  • find needy people attracted to them.
  • feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don’t have a crisis or drama in their lives, a problem to solve, or someone to help.
  • abandon their routine to respond to or do something for someone else.
  • over-commit themselves.
  • feel harried or pressured.
  • believe deep inside that other people somehow responsible for them.
  • blame others for the situation they find themselves in.
  • feel that other people make them feel the way they do.
  • believe that other people are making them crazy.
  • feel angry, victimised, unappreciated and used.
  • find other people becoming impatient or angry with them for all the preceding  characteristics.

Low Self-Worth

People with this issue tend to;

  • come from troubled, repressed or dysfunctional families.
  • deny their family was troubled, repressed or dysfunctional. Think their family was fairly normal.
  • blame themselves for everything.