Self-Awareness and Its Shadow

High levels of awareness can catalyze growth, or contribute to mental disorders. How do you find the balance?

Ricky Derisz
6 min readJun 6, 2023
Photo by Joe Shields on Unsplash

Self-awareness is mostly considered a positive trait. More awareness equals more emotional intelligence, more clarity on life’s goals and values, more insight into behaviors or traits that limit potential, more understanding of how words and actions affect others.

But can you have too much self-awareness? Is it ever optimal to be less self-aware?

These are questions I’ve asked myself when cultivating awareness, and noticing its shadow, and its light. For the most part, self-awareness has served me well. But there’s a detrimental aspect of high self-awareness that can exacerbate traits such as anxiety or paranoia, or fortify the ego.

Psychology has a number of definitions that categorize self-awareness and its nuances. Self-consciousness is unpleasant but tolerable, a universal sense of insecurity that surfaces in certain situations. Hyperreflexivity, defined asexcessive self-preoccupation usually connected with more or less severe self-alienation,” is intrusive and extreme, and associated with a number of mental disorders.

In addition, interoception, the awareness of bodily processes, is undergoing…



Ricky Derisz

Author. Podcast host. Creator of Free copy of my book Mindsets for Mindfulness 👉 It’s a bribe, but worth it.