IFG UPDATE: Week 8/9 – Self-Awareness/Core Beliefs


«Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished

Dan Gilbert

In Weeks 8 and 9 of IFG, we focused on self-awareness and core beliefs. After doing our weekly check-in, we completed a five minute self-awareness reflection filling out a “self-awareness quiz.” The idea was to respond to the questions with the first thought that came to mind, in order to complete all of the questions in five minutes. In looking at our answers to the quiz, we touched on the following questions:

  • What surprised you?
  • What was difficult to answer?
  • How might this change?
  • Why do you think we are looking at self-awareness?

As a group, many of us agreed that living in another country can be an impetus for increasing self-awareness. Living in a different context allows us an opportunity to question things about ourselves that we may not have noticed before.

In Week 9, we furthered this discussion, transitioning from self-awareness to lessons we’ve learned and reflecting on our core beliefs/values. This discussion was based on the article, “10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings,” by Maria Popova. Popova introduces her definition of core values/beliefs in the following excerpt:


“Because I believe that our becoming, like the synthesis of meaning itself, is an ongoing and dynamic process, I’ve been reluctant to stultify it and flatten its ongoing expansiveness in static opinions and fixed personal tenets of living. But I do find myself continually discovering, then returning to, certain core values. While they may be refined and enriched in the act of living, their elemental substance remains a center of gravity for what I experience as myself.”

Maria Popova

From Popova’s list, we chose discussed with which items we agreed and disagreed and why. We thought about whether or not we would be able to define our own list of core beliefs. And we asked ourselves: Are some core beliefs easier to adhere to in Spain? In the US? Why?

Many of us agreed that certain core values are easier to adhere to based on the culture you are surrounded by. For example, Popova’s sixth lesson states, Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.” This point sparked a discussion on the value of productivity in different cultures, and how that can define many aspects of a person’s life.

In the end, Popova’s points caused us to reflect on the necessary nuance of our core beliefs, and the importance of questioning what we think we think. Although it can be easy to relate strongly to a belief at first, when we delve deeper into self-awareness, we often find that we come out less certain than before. A suggestion that Popova puts forth as the first core belief on her list: “Allow yourself the uncomfortable and luxury of changing your mind.”

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