Stephen Covey’s “Self-Awareness” Turned Literal

So I’ve been keeping a video journal. I started about a week ago. I’m reading Naked Lens by Michael Sean Kaminsky, and it has you do an 8-week workshop called the “Video Regeneration.”

Today, I did the exercise called “Instant Replay.” This activity involves watching your yourself in your video journal entry and taking notes. As I did this, I realized that I was doing something literally that Stephen Covey describes doing figuratively in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey says that one thing that distinguishes us as self-aware creatures is that we can look at ourselves from the outside in, as if we were an objective observer.

From Seven Habits:

“As you read this book, try to stand apart from yourself. Try to project your consciousness upward into a corner of the room and see yourself, in your mind’s eye, reading. Can you look at yourself almost as though you were someone else?”

Isn’t this what I am doing literally as I watch myself on video? And a few paragraphs down:

“Your ability to do what you just did is uniquely human. Animals do not possess this ability. We call it ‘self-awareness’ or the ability to think about your very thought process. This is the reason why man has dominion over all things in the world and why he can make significant advances from generation to generation.”

Since I have kept a video journal, my level of self-awareness has gone through the roof. Not merely because I am seeing a digital image of myself on my computer screen, but because I am intently observing my thought process in action—I get to observe not only my spoken words, but also my facial expressions, tone, energy level, and body language as my thoughts are forming. Thus I become a keen observer of not only my thoughts, but my entire thought process. Apparently monkeys can’t do this. (So far there aren’t any monkeys keeping video journals that I am aware of, although I could be proven wrong!)

A video journalist finds him- or herself in the unique position of objective observer of one’s own life, looking from the outside in. Keeping a video journal entry everyday and looking back over time, I can see the changes in my state of mind— how I am doing at that particular moment in time. When I was losing weight, I kept track of my weight every day in an iPhone app that made a graph for me, so I could see changes over time. Now with my video journal, it is as if I can see a graph of my life, and my improvement and change over time.

>>> See my initial thoughts on the Naked Lens Video Regeneration in my previous blog post, Video Journaling – A Powerful Tool for Self Exploration.



  1. Interesting, I don’t think you can ever view yourself as an objective observer, though. After all, you have so many vested interests in what you do. Here’s my post on The Power of Now, which takes a whole different view on self awareness:

    1. Every artist knows that true objectivity is unattainable, nor would it be desirable, since that would mean one would have no desires, no likes nor dislikes, no personality. A camera on the other hand is completely objective. And seeing ourselves from the outside in on instant replay, even if through subjective eyes, brings us so much closer to the perspective of objective observer, that we can learn many things about ourselves from it.

      I haven’t read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out. 🙂

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