Moment Of Clarity

Developing Self-Awareness

For over 25 years, I have worked with clients to help them increase their self-awareness and, without fail, each one has asked, “What is the self?”

In short, the self is you. It’s that part of you who refers to the “I” when you speak (e.g. I feel happy). It is every aspect of you on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

With that said, let’s talk about each level in which you actually exist: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.


Physical Self: This is the part of our body that feels physical pain and pleasure. We can actually block our awareness of our body and replace it with awareness of other areas of self, like emotions. Nonetheless, we want to be aware of our physical bodies, so we respond appropriately when needed.

Maintaining your body: The easiest and most common method for maintaining your body is to relax. There are a number of guided meditations and relaxation techniques available, so find one that you like and use it everyday.

Emotional Self: This is the part of you that feels and is aware of what you are feeling. Feeling can be difficult in a culture that does not value emotions as much as they do reasoning and logic. When emotions are undervalued, they get pushed aside and then begin to take a life of their own and become out of control.

Maintaining your emotions: Emotional valence can help you identify whether an emotion is being experienced as an unpleasant or pleasant condition. If an emotion is unpleasant, something needs to change within the environment or yourself. If an emotion is pleasant that means that whatever is happening is working for us. Generally speaking, healthy conditions create healthy experiences of our emotions – even the heavier ones.

Mental Self: This is the part of your being that has thoughts and imagination. You can more easily control your thoughts than you can your feelings however, unwanted or negative thoughts can sneak in from time to time. When this happens we can more easily catch ourselves and amend any distorted thinking if we are able to see it.

Maintaining your mind: While there are many things that we work on to get our minds healthy, distorted thinking is the most common area of focus when trying to maintain a healthy mind. We focus on distortions because if we have an inaccurate assessment of a situation, we create negative or unpleasant conditions by which we experience our emotions. The key here is to make sure you are seeing, hearing, and understanding what is really going on and not being usurped by your emotions.

Spiritual Self: This is often a touchy area. Spirituality has nothing to do with religion and it does not reject any religious beliefs either. Spirituality is about a person’s identity based on their values, world view, and motivation. It may be helpful to think of the emotional and mental body as the feelings and thoughts of a person and the spiritual self as the interconnectedness of those thoughts and feelings over time, which leads to their personal identity.

Maintaining spirituality: Simply put, stay present. When we are present, we are grounded and connected to what is happening now. There is a saying, “When we are depressed, we are living in the past. When we are anxious, we are living in the future. When we are calm, we are living in the present.” When you are present in the moment, you are detached from your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and instead are aware of how they are moving and changing. This will help you to see yourself from an objective place and not through your emotions.

As you can see, all of these areas work together to create a whole being and each one impacts the other. You are a complex and amazing work of art. Take the time to discover who you are and connect more fully with these part of yourself.

To learn more about how to improve your self-awareness, read Discover Who You Are by Jinnie Cristerna. For a full list of Jinnie’s personal development books, click here.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in clinical and spiritual psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, Yhandi and RoHun.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter, join her on Facebook and Twitter, or view her self-help books!