Dr. Merary Simeon with her children at a race

Self-Awareness is a Continuous Journey—Not a Destination

Dr. Merary Simeon, co-founder of ZERA Consulting and author of H.E.R.A.C.T, kicks off this month’s conversation on self-awareness and increasing your EQ by laying down the foundational understanding that self-awareness is a continuous journey, never a final destination.

H.E.R.A.C.T. is June’s featured book of the month on the Podcast Reading List.
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You can listen to this conversation with Dr. Merary on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

Even though I hear these terms used interchangeably, I believe self-awareness and mindfulness complement each other. I also believe that they serve different purposes, though. You see, self-awareness is all about gaining insight into ourselves, into your behaviors. So for me, self-awareness means understanding what triggers my behaviors. This is so important because it calls us to pause and ask ourselves, ‘Where are you? Where are your thoughts? Where is your heart? Where are your actions?’

Self-awareness is actually very evident throughout Scripture. In Genesis 3, God addresses Adam with the question, ‘Where are you?’ Now, we all know that God wasn’t asking Adam where he was because He didn’t know his physical location. I believe He was inviting Adam to reflect on his spiritual and emotional state. To me, this situation symbolizes God’s desire for humankind to become aware of not just our physical location but also our spiritual position. in prompting self-awareness.

Mindfulness, to me, is being fully present in what is happening at the moment without judging those feelings. Easier said than done, though, right? Mindfulness makes us pay attention to our thoughts and what is arising based on what is happening, and then helping us not let those thoughts influence our behavior. 

Now, this is an interesting question. The short answer is yes, it has absolutely enabled me to recognize the early signs of emotional distress, but that has taken time. Self-awareness is a continuous journey rather than a destination. It is so critical that all of us practice becoming more self-aware, because if we’re not self-aware, we develop blind spots that can become destructive. In this case, blind spots refer to areas in our life that negatively impact our growth. If we cannot see them, they will derail our career. Over time, I have learned from these mistakes or blind spots in my life through consistent self-awareness practice that I put in place, and this practice has helped me really understand my strength and weaknesses.

One of my values is integrity and loyalty. However, when someone violates those values, my emotions can escalate quickly. Years ago, I had a peer who I consider to be a close friend. We visited each other’s homes. I knew her children. But one day she betrayed my trust in a significant way, and I didn’t handle it well. It hit me hard, and my emotions took over and I said things that I didn’t mean, and I immediately decided that I no longer trusted her. Now, while that moment was painful in my life, I am thankful today because that situation helped me learn how important it is to not make decisions or speak when I’m overwhelmed by anger. Instead, something that I began to do and still continue to do is pause and allow my initial emotions to subside . 

Because I’m aware and see those triggers, or recognize how my body is going to react in these situations, I am able to be proactive about managing those feelings and how they will influence my actions. It’s really important for me to pause and reflect. Something I would’ve done differently today with that friend who had betrayed my trust is gone back after I had acknowledged my feelings and had good, effective communication with that individual. Being self-aware is being able to put yourself in those positions, when it may be difficult to have a conversation, but letting the conversation be powerful and effective, and ultimately freeing for both parties. 

It took time. But the same situation will continue to appear until you handle it differently. It took several tries for me to begin to realize how I react to things and how to respond in a way that portrays me accurately. Every time that you ignore an opportunity to become self-aware, you don’t grow.  Self-awareness doesn’t only focus on your emotions; you’re also going to be self-aware of what is physically going on with you, too. Your blind spots in life are often manifested as behaviors, and those behaviors are getting in the way of your success. At the end of the day, as a Christian leader, if I am not self-aware, then how can I lead with Christ-like characteristics?  

Dr. Merary Simeon smiling in a white suit

Dr. Merary Simeon is a Fortune 50 HR Executive and co-founder of ZERA Consulting, a company that equips leaders with skills and strategies that advance multicultural women in the workplace. Through her meaningful work, she addresses crucial workplace issues such as creating an inclusive culture, intentional leadership, and more. 

With her rich experience and respected reputation, she’s become an engaging speaker, inspiring audiences to activate their power, unlock their potential, fulfill their purpose, and unmute their voice. 

Dr. Simeon holds a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. Her guiding principle is Philippians 4:13, crediting her success to Jesus Christ.