People usually conflate awareness and judgement and that’s why they’d rather be in denial of their beliefs and patterns.
Self awareness means being able to see one’s behaviors clearly. To see clearly means to see without judgement. All that judgement is, is a filter placed on our vision by our prior experiences. We are not in control of our prior experiences in that we had no conscious choice over what we were taught or exposed to as children. What we learned as children formed the framework for making sense of our adult life. And our adult life is constantly filled with judgement, rather than awareness.
Awareness requires removing the filter of judgement. But oddly, while it would seem that doing so would liberate us from the limits of our own perceptions, so many people resist. They absolutely refuse to see clearly. They will construct a cocoon of denial from which they will never emerge, thus they have merely created their own grave.
They prefer this grave to their own clear sight. For to see clearly means to accept things about their own behavior (which they have yet to learn does not equal the Self) as dysfunctional. They think this dysfunction is their own fault, rather than seeing it for what it is - a reflection of the society in which they live. It is far easier for them to embody in their personal lives the dysfunction of the society rather than to confront the society and change it.
So unless one truly has the desire to challenge the inner dysfunction, as well as to be an activist against the dysfunction of the greater society, they will continue to exist in denial.
They will utilize judgement of themselves and others in place of awareness. They will reject every opportunity to see things as they truly are. They will do this because they think this is easier. But the suffering of this way of life is not just inevitable, it is contagious, because these people will make those around them equally as miserable.
Awareness without judgment requires courage. It’s not the gathering-of-arms-and-fighting-for-one’s-life-followed-by-accolades type of courage. It’s a soft, quiet courage that likely goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Awareness of our own inner judgments must be met, paradoxically, without judgement. When we can do this, we minimize the damage that our egos are capable of causing to others. No one will thank us for having caused them less harm, but over time, we will know that our behaviors have evolved because we suffer less. We will see the results of our commitment to train our awareness reflected in the change that occurs around us.
If this positive change becomes contagious, perhaps awareness without judgement can become second nature to us humans.