The Single Biggest Copy-writing Needle Mover

In 2006 I wrote a sales letter that brought in around $500k. Since then, it's probably done millions.

I wrote it from my one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with little to no experience writing copy.

I did it in my basketball shorts and I drank a six pack before I started writing it.

It was on the topic of astral projection.

For those of you who don’t know that’s when you basically leave your body and float around the universe, experience all kinds of crazy sh*t and then come back.

My job was to sell a course that showed people how to do this.

This was for a big client.

A client - that at the time I probably had no business writing for - but found myself with this opportunity through a mutual colleague.

A client - that anyone into mediation, spirituality and consciousness - would immediately recognize as the biggest online leader in that space at the moment. I won’t name names but the company’s initials are MV.

When I started writing this copy I thought to myself how the f*ck am I supposed to write this letter?

What does a guy from Brooklyn who takes the F train to work everyday in his Banana Republic shirt know about astral projection?

The answer?


That’s when I realized that to write this letter I would have to temperately abandon Paul Mascetta - the guy who went to Bishop Ford High School, watched the Sopranos and ate dinner at 3pm every Sunday.


For that moment I was someone else.

We’ll call him Aaron.

Aaron is 5 feet 7 in inches tall & weighs 157lbs.

He’s in his late 30’s, lives in Seattle, smokes pot, lights candles and doesn’t believe in God.

From the moment I started writing I became Aaron.

I asked myself…

What does Aaron hope to achieve in life?

What frustrates him?

What makes him happy?

What pisses him off?

What does it take to be his friend?

Who does he listen to and trust?

And so on.

I wrote the entire letter by simply placing myself in his shoes.

Sure I touched on the benefits and features off the product but make no mistake..

The single biggest needle mover on that letter was..


A few years later I found myself at a mastermind with the owner of the company that I wrote that letter for.

When his time came to shine he quoted almost every line from Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz.

He talked about things like market sophistication and how you can’t create desire but only channel it and how every offer was crafted using these principles.

And I sat there thinking “Sh&t, I didn’t use any of that when I wrote that letter”.

Now listen, I’m not saying that the information in BA is not useful. Since then I’ve read the book a few times and think it contains some really insightful information. reiterate..

The single biggest needle mover on that letter was..


I can will be yours too.

So what are you doing about it?

Are you researching your ideal customer, avatar or whatever you wanna call it?

Are you making it your business to align & connect with them emotionally?

Are you speaking their language?

Are you talking about things relevant to them?

If you’re not, you should start.


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How To Gain Covert Control

Covert influence is often the best type of influence because your target doesn't realize that you're influencing them.

Keep in mind, when doing this that you should always use it to create win-win situations that are mutually beneficial to both parties.

That being said, I would like to share some simple steps to covertly influencing others.

Watch the video and feel free to leave a comment.

How To Persuade Someone When They Keep Disagreeing With You

The worst thing that could happen to you when you are trying to persuade someone is for that person to say “no” to everything that you say. And let’s face it – there are many individuals who are experts in saying no to people.

Don’t worry – there is actually a language pattern that can help you win in this kind of situation. This hypnotic language pattern focuses on reducing the resistance of the subject to your ideas by forcing agreement at every turn.

How does this work? Well, think about it: people generally don’t like it when people disagree with them. With the agreement pattern, you will agree with a point while at the same time adding your point at the end.

The hypnotic language pattern itself is quite simple:

“I agree with (A) and would add (B)”

This pattern only has three essential elements but it is an extremely powerful pattern that can be used in a variety of situations (like the redefining pattern).

Here’s a quick example:

“I agree that this new product is pricier than its counterparts and would like to add that it has extremely useful features that are not offered by any of the existing competitors”

You can also combine the redefining pattern and the agreement pattern to create an ultra- persuasive pattern that will really grip your subject.

“I agree that this new product is pricier than its counterparts and would like to add that the issue here is not the price of the product but how much time it will save you and how much more profit you are going to generate by using it which I may add is being offered at 30% discount to you right now”

You might be wondering: does this mean that I have to say yes to everything that the other person says?

Well, you do have to agree with the other person but you don’t have to agree with anything he has said that you don’t like. Or you can just agree with something else just so you can include the agreement pattern in your dialog.

If you don’t agree with anything that the person has just said, you can always just agree that he just said something to you.

This may sound a little odd but it can work.

Here’s an example: “I agree that you have just lambasted my business and would add that only someone with the least amount of professional experience would say that”.

A lot of people would react to the fact that I just called someone an amateur with that statement. What good would the agreement pattern do if I just questioned someone’s professional experience?

Well, it’s still better to agree with people than to disagree with them. People are universally hardwired to get along with others who agree with them (even if the agreement doesn’t benefit them at all).

Agreement frames are excellent during arguments and heated debates because it actually defuses other people’s defenses automatically. If someone agrees with you, your brain will automatically lower its defenses.

But if someone disagrees with you, all your logical and creative defenses are up and you are ready to fight tooth and nail to defend your position (even if it is wrong).

That’s just how the human brain works. It’s not manipulation or being a controlling person at all. We’re just taking advantage of the fact that people love hearing agreement.

Under normal circumstances, people don’t usually need to point out that someone lacks professional experience (or competence, at that).

Most of the time, you just have to show the other person that there is another way of viewing or analyzing a particular issue:

“I agree that you just disagreed with my point earlier about real fur coats and I would add that there are many ways of analyzing the fur trade issue and your take is just one of many”

You have to be careful when using “but” and “and” in your agreement pattern sentences.

Normally what people do is they agree with someone and follow up their agreement with a “but”. The word “but” is universally understood in the English-speaking world as a sign of disagreement.

There are rules of positives and negatives. When you combine a negative element and positive element the result will always be negative.

Therefore, if you say something nice in the beginning but you follow that up with the word “but” the recipient of the message will automatically know that you are about to disagree with them.

It doesn’t matter how nice you were when you said the affirmative/supportive part of the statement. You are still clearly disagreeing with the other person because you used “but”.

Now compare the impact of a statement that uses the word “and” instead of “but”:

Statement # 1

“I agree that the new project is over-budget but I would like to add that everyone was doing everything they can to stay within the budget”

Statement # 2

“I agree that the new project is over-budget and would like to add that everyone was doing everything they can to stay on budget”

Notice that the second statement was affirmative throughout. The first statement sounded like it was making an excuse for being over-budget. No one likes excuses.

An excuse often feels like a slap to the face which is why it is universally disliked.

Would you want to sound like you were trying to make an excuse while you were trying to persuade someone? Most probably not – so as much as possible avoid using but when using the agreement pattern.

Some of you might be thinking: the agreement pattern is nice, but is there any way to vary the outcome without reducing the impact of this hypnotic language pattern? There are some variations that you may want to try:

1.“I almost agree with what you said and would add that...”

2.“I do not completely agree with all of the points that you have just raised and...”

3.“I agree with almost all of the things that you have said and would add that...”

4.“I completely agree that you said ___________ and would add that...”

The Biospsychosocial Model In Psychology

Ever wonder what really drives people’s thoughts and behaviors? Cool, then join the thousands of psychologists who’ve been trying to crack this code since the beginning of time.

As of today, the most widely accepted theory is something called the biospsychosocial model. I know it sounds all scientific and complicated but all it really means is that the driving forces behind people’s thoughts and actions are the biological, psychological and social influences and how they all interact with one another.

We begin with the biological or the body and more specifically the brain and nervous system. The body plays the role of housing the components that not only keep us alive but enable us to think.

Next is the mind or the place where all of our feelings, desires, emotions and beliefs come from. Understanding how the mind works is essential to understanding behavior and mental processes but some psychologists such as behaviorists actually completely ignore the mind while others like biological psychologists call the mind the brain.

The the component i the biospsychosocial model - which is studied at length by social psychologists - is the role that others play in our lives or social influence. These influences aren’t only specific to other people either. They can include things like technology and nature as well.

The social influence part of the model is what interests me the most because this is where you can really begin to utilize the power of persuasion and influence.

After all, you can really change a person’s body parts or organs but you can affect the way that they think about things and make decisions.

When it comes to this part of the model it’s important to always remember that cultural differences have a huge impact on the way people perceive the world.

Cultural differences have become a popular area of study in psychology in the last 30 years and it’s not hard to understand why.

From a scientific perspective, it’s important to understand why certain cultures hold the beliefs that they do because all people are vulnerable to cultural bias. When you understand the mechanics behind this, it gives you an objective picture of reality as opposed to psychologies that differ from region to region and aren’t accepted outside of the cultures they were developed in.

From a humanistic perspective, it’s important to understand cultural belief differences so  you gain the awareness needed to approach every situation as diplomatically and open minded as possible.

Seven Ways To Make A Killer First Impression With Body Language

When it comes to body language, I still can't believe how many people are not actively trying to master this topic. I guess they still fail to realize that no matter which way you slice it, non verbal communication accounts for over 70% of the way we "talk" to each other.

Now tying directly into that is the importance of a good impression. The ironic part is that most people screw up the first impression because they're always thinking of the "right" thing to say when in reality they should be thinking about the right thing to DO.

So in this post, I'm going to show you exactly how to make a killer first impression with body language.

And just in case you forgot, here are a few reasons why first impressions are important:

1.) First impressions last

2.)  People can base their permanent impression of you in three to six minutes

3.) People rarely find reasons to change their first impression of someone

4.) People respond to other people based on their first impressions of others.

5.) Nine times out of ten, people don’t know that they are unconsciously projecting an image of themselves to people that they are talking to for the first time. It is important to control this public image because this will be used by people to make a first impression of you. You have to be aware, not guarded, because you would also want to facilitate communication in the process of controlling your projection.

The solutions

1.) Be extra careful when you are around women because women are more perceptive than men. Men can learn to be more perceptive, but that takes practice.

2.) When you want to appear honest and sincere with what you are saying, keep your hands near the navel and keep your palms open and loose. The palms should be facing the other person;  this shows that you are not trying to hide anything and you are truly laying down the cards. You will discover that as you do this, your emotions and thoughts will follow suit. Everything will feel easier and more comfortable. The mind responds to body language and vice versa.

3.) Avoid putting your hands in your pants’ pockets when talking to people because this sends a signal that you are not confident or comfortable being in that situation. Keep your hands near the front of your body.

4.) Don’t put your hands at your sides because this will send an instant signal to the other person that you have already been disabled even before you’ve started. Putting your hands at the sides sends an unconscious message that you are a sitting duck, vulnerable and ready for attack.

5.) If you want to come across as energetic, make gestures near the chest area and keep the energy high by using this horizontal plane. If you want to tone down the energy, simply lower your hands near the navel level. Adjust the energy of the dialog by moving your hands up and down. Remember to use open gestures to keep the interaction smooth.

6.) When you are trying to give instructions to someone, keep your palms open. This signals that you are open to interaction and you are not dictating to others.

7.) Facial expressions are just as important when you’re trying to talk to someone. When you choose to smile at people, remember to feel good when you’re smiling so that a more natural smile will emerge. The brain can detect a fake smile a mile away. Scientists believe that the brain actually scans key areas on the other person’s face to check if the smile is genuine or not. If you don’t feel good when you’re smiling, you will notice that your smile will end up strained and the smile will be limited to your mouth region. Your eyes will not ‘smile’ along with your mouth.

8.) When you shake hands with people, don’t try to dominate them. Match the other person’s shaking power. This takes practice but it can be done.

Benefits of the solution

It’s easier to create a good first impression with body language.

Using body language will feel natural because non-verbal language is instinctual.

You can build your own repertoire of gestures and actions later on as you learn more about how you can create a good first impression on people.

The Bottom Line:

Creating a killer first impression is important in every social situation. We want to create a positive image in the minds of people that you interact with because this will also help you persuade and influence people more easily.

Ifyou like what you read here, check out my digital book on body language called Unspoken Power.

Power Struggles With Hands

Power Struggle


Power struggles are waged every single day through the handshake

The double-handed handshake that we have just discussed is generally used to create an instant physical connection between two people. If you want a word to describe the goal, try “intimacy”. That’s right – intimacy can be forged through a handshake if the handshake is initiated properly.

Like other gestures in the large corpus of body language, the double handshake can be appropriated endlessly, depending on the goal.

While it is true that the double-handed handshake can be used to create a feeling of warmth and connection between two people, it can also be used to dominate and subordinate other people.

When one person tries to dominate the other through body language, a power struggle ensues. And one of the easiest ways to do that is through the different variations of the double-handed handshake:

  1. The wrist-hold handshake
  2. The elbow-grasp handshake
  3. The upper-arm grip handshake
  4. The shoulder-hold handshake

If you want to convey more control, the wrist-hold handshake can be used safely even when you are meeting someone for the first time. We should all remember that the double-handed handshake is actually a slight intrusion into another person’s personal space.

By extending the other hand to clasp another part of the person’s arm or hand, you are actually slightly pushing the boundaries by entering the other person’s private space. Since people only offer their hands when they shake hands with other people, going beyond the hand automatically means you are entering a private space already.

As such, the elbow-grasp handshake, shoulder-hold handshake and the upper-arm handshake should only be done if the other person really knows you and you are close to this person. Otherwise, you run the risk of annoying or potentially offending the other person when you do this.

Rule of Thumb: Don’t use a double-handed handshake if you have absolutely no connection to the person in front of you.

Three Handshakes You Should Avoid At All Costs

Some handshakes are worse than others. Welcome to the part of the book where we examine the handshakes that never contribute to a person’s credibility. First impressions last, and these handshakes create a lasting negative impression on people.

The Clammy Handshake (10% Credibility)


The limp, clammy handshake never impresses

As we have mentioned before, no one likes the idea of shaking hands with a person who seems to have just finished washing the dishes. Sweat is a big turn down in the world of social graces and the handshake is too essential to be ruined by sweat.

A sweaty palm does not only appear unhygienic but it also signals something much worse: that the person with the clammy handshake has weak character. If you want to exude confidence, your handshake has to communicate that as well.

Important Note: the Clammy Handshake is considered disagreeable in most Western countries like the USA, Canada, etc. However, in some countries in Asia, a firm grip during a handshake is generally avoided because it can actually offend people.

So the best strategy when you are in a foreign country is to simply match the grip strength of the other person. Also, carry a handkerchief that you can use to wipe away sweat from your palms when you know full well that you are going to shake hands with important people.

The Tight Handshake (40% Credibility)


A little too tight?

The tight handshake is usually done by two types of people: power players and people with low self-confidence. People with low self-confidence usually shake hands in this manner because they are often afraid that the other person might become too dominant.

The tight handshake is performed in this manner:

  1. The initiator offers a palm-down hand
  2. He takes the other hand and makes a downward pump once
  3. Three strong pumps are given before the initiator lets go of the other hand

The Wrench Handshake (0% Credibility)


Who would want to shake hands with a wrench?

Handshakes are meant to transmit confidence and credibility – not pain. People who routinely use the Wrench Handshake should not be surprised that their handshake can actually draw blood if the other person has a ring on.

The Wrench Handshake is the choice weapon of the blindly aggressive individual who wants nothing more than to appear ‘on top’ of things wherever he is.

Unfortunately, this kind of handshake only causes shock and people who have had the misfortune of having to endure this type of handshake will only have a negative impression of the initiator.

People who like the Wrench Handshake will usually grab the other person’s hand without warning and grip it so tightly during the hand pump movement that the other person will have no chance at all to control the handshake.

If you’re a woman and you are about to meet a lot of businessmen, I suggest that you take off any ring that you might have on before shaking hands. You never know when an errant bone-crusher might come along to ruin your day with a senseless and awful handshake.

Since it would be quite difficult to control a sudden Wrench Handshake from someone you barely (or don’t) know, the one thing that you can do to is to respond to the bone-crushing grip with a statement like “That actually hurt. You have an awfully strong grip.”

Such statements are not on the offensive but it is strong enough to catch the attention of the errant hand-shaker. Your statement will serve as a warning so he will not repeat the awful handshake.

Strategies For Handshaking

Reading handshakes is easy enough – but what if you find yourself in a situation that you would need to shake hands yourself? What would you do?

Body language mastery requires not only fervent practice through regular observation but also practical application of what you’ve learned so far. So if you can now tell a dominant handshake from a handshake that implies submissiveness, what can you do now to provide a benefit to yourself in social situations?

And so I came up with this special section that covers various strategies that you can use to achieve specific goals.

Establishing Rapport with Other People


Establish rapport with an equalizing handshake

Rapport in simple terms is putting people at ease so that mutual trust can be established immediately. The easiest way to establish rapport is through mirroring. Mirroring can be done through a handshake by matching the strength of the other person’s handshake.

If the other person has a strong grip, you can compensate by increase your grip force as well. There’s nothing wrong with increasing the force of your grip because you are simply matching the other person’s handshake. It is also important to keep your hand as vertical as possible so that your hand will not end up under or on top of the other person’s hand.

In a rapport handshake, there is no dominant or submissive person – there is only a union of equals. If you have to shake hands with different people, you have to quickly measure the intensity/strength of different handshakes and adjust your handshake accordingly.

If you are a man, be extra careful when shaking the hand of the ladies. Anatomically speaking, men’s arms and hands were built for strength. An average man can exert a maximum grip force that can reach up to one hundred pounds if he needs to apply force. You would not want to exert such force on a woman’s soft and fragile hands.

The key here is to immediately measure the other person’s grip strength by using a scale of one to ten. If your handshake has an average strength of eight and the other person has a handshake strength of four, you must reduce your handshake strength a few points to match the other person’s handshake.

Defusing Power Play


Don’t let power players win over you

If everyone liked the idea of equality among men, power plays would not occur at all. Unfortunately, power plays do happen and sometimes, it is hard to ignore when a person is consciously (or unconsciously) trying to put down other people even through handshakes.

The most common sign that another person was trying to dominate you through a handshake is the palm-down handshake. I know – the palm down handshake sounds rude, to begin with! It can be very rude indeed but some men like using it.

Usually, a power player comes in very quickly, thrusting out his hand. The hand can either be offered with palm completely facing the floor or the hand can be slightly facing the side.

The key characteristic of the palm down handshake is that angle of the palm is so awkward that the other person cannot possibly establish an equalizing handshake or dominant handshake without getting the attention of the power player or other people.

So if you meet someone who thrusts out a hand with palm facing downward, what can you do? Follow these steps:

If the person is shaking with his right hand, move your left leg close to the other person.

As your leg invades the power player’s personal space, thrust forward your right hand and clasp the palm-down hand.

Establish a dominant or equalizing handshake as you move your right leg forward. The right leg becomes the lead leg.

A little explanation about the three steps: when you invade another person’s personal space, any trusted hand automatically becomes weaker because the other person would be taken aback and instinctually, a rigid arm becomes less rigid as the other person becomes alert for any sudden movements.

When you move your leg toward the person, you invade his personal space and you are given an opportunity to reverse the roles. Instead of being the victim of the power play, you become the dominant individual because you suddenly gain the upper hand.

By moving your body in this manner, you are actually mimicking an arm wrestling competition – and the errant power player loses because you were able to think quickly.

The three steps should be done in succession, within a matter of seconds so the power player would not have any time to react at all. Once you have a firm clasp on the power player’s hand, perform the handshake and release his hand. Master reader 1, power player zero.


The double handshake also defuses a power player

Now another technique that you can use to defuse a power player’s palm-down handshake is by using both hands to shake the other person’s hand. To do this handshake, simply grasp the power player’s hand and then proceed to cover the hand with your other hand as you shake.

There is an instant effect when you do this. Instead of showing you that he’s the boss, you are showing him that you have twice the authority because you can easily cover his palm-down hand when you perform a handshake.

There are times when a person just doesn’t know when to quit a bad habit. If you are about to shake the hand of a person who is known for his power plays, your very last option is the wrist clasp handshake.

Simply grab the top of the other person’s wrist and shake his hand quickly before letting go. As you shake the other person’s hand, note that you have to straighten the hand otherwise you will be forced into an awkward position as you perform the handshake.

This will send a massive shockwave through the power player’s system and he will most likely be stunned once the handshake has been carried. Don’t do this handshake if you are shaking the hand of your boss or someone who has a higher position than you.

Rule of Thumb: The best way to create a powerful handshake that would put you at a dominant or at least equal position with the other person is to offer your right hand first. Approaching from the left is also a good idea.

Important Note: Handshakes are important when meeting new people. Impressions of people are formed within the first four to five seconds and usually these first impressions become lasting impressions especially if the other person won’t be able to see you often.

When you shake hands often and your hands are usually sweaty, do yourself a favor and carry around a handkerchief so you can wipe your ‘shaking’ hand dry. No one likes the idea of shaking hands with a person with cold, sweaty hands. That can really ruin your chances of making a good first impression.

Exploring the Double-Handed Handshake

The double-handed handshake can disarm a power player because it is much more powerful than the palm-down handshake. This handshake is most often used in organizations and companies where people need to establish their rank or position early on when dealing with different people.

When initiated, a complete double-handed handshake is performed in this manner:

Eye contact is first established by the initiator.

The initiator clasps the other person’s hand firmly.

The initiator then places his other hand on top of the other person’s hand.

The handshake commences as the initiator says the other person’s name.

A generic salutation/question is given (i.e. “How are you doing?”)

There is a lot more physical contact when a double-handed handshake is given, compared to a regular handshake.

People of stature and genuine authority use this handshake to get people’s trust and confidence instantly. When this type of handshake is given, the initiator is actually saying that he should be trusted because he is open and sincere.

While this might sound great to someone who wants to appear as credible and trustworthy as possible whenever he meets new people, I should you warn you early on that the double-handed handshake can actually backfire on you if you don’t use it carefully.

Since this handshake requires a lot more contact than your usual handshake, people you barely know might take the handshake negatively. People might become suspicious of your actual intentions. A person who is virtually a stranger might ask himself: what is this other person up to?

So when can a person safely perform the double-handed handshake if he has positive intentions?

You can do this handshake safely if and only if you are at a social gathering where hugging is also common. For example, if you were invited to a class reunion and you see old classmates, you can probably use this handshake without appearing suspicious or overbearing.

The Availability Heuristic

While the representative heuristic is used to analyze people’s behavior, the availability heuristic is more frequently used to determine whether or not an event is likely to happen based on available information about similar events.

The availability heuristic is intimately associated with informational accessibility or the degree at which a person can easily recall a situation or event from his own memory. The big difference between the availability heuristic and informational accessibility is that there is a subjective participation when one uses the availability heuristic.

For example, the concept of cookies is easily accessible for most people but that does not mean that a person would be constantly recalling his subjective experiences about cookies. The only time that the information becomes part of s heuristic would be when a person has to recall something related to cookies when he has to make a decision related to cookies.

The availability heuristic in situations where we feel anxious about doing something because we have read or heard about something similar. For example, if there are a string of muggings in your area, you would have a natural fear to go out alone at night because of the stories that you hear from your neighbors.

Because of the high accessibility of related information (i.e. stories about the muggings), you are led to believe that you should not go out at night alone because you might be mugged, too.

False Consensus Effect

The false consensus effect is a specific bias that usually results from the use of the availability heuristic. The false consensus effect points to the tendency of some people to exaggerate the validity of their own opinion by thinking that the majority of those around them will have the same opinion.

There is no way to measure whether or not the majority of the population will agree with a person and therefore, the false consensus effect will never generate anything that is truly objective/neutral or statistics-based. People just think that other agree with them. For example, if you ask someone if he likes a particular restaurant, his train of thought would be something like:

  1. “Yes, I like that restaurant it serves really good food at really great prices.”
  2. “I think other people like this restaurant, too”
  3. “9 out of 10, people around this area will choose this restaurant over other restaurants.”

As you can see, a person who has a false consensus effect will defend his positive or negative statement about something by citing false consensus, regardless of what other people actually think or feel about something.

The false consensus effect is quite common among people because long standing beliefs are easily pulled from the conscious memory. Strongly held beliefs are tied integrally to our own behaviors and tendencies and therefore, our judgment of other people’s appearance, behavior, credibility, etc., are partially influenced by our own behavioral biases.

The Two Types Of Self Awareness

With the presence of the self comes the realization that we are all distinct individuals with peculiar behaviors, drives and desires. This individuation (which occurs on the most basic levels of human community and interaction) is defined by self-awareness. Self-awareness is like your rear-view and side-view mirrors: it gives you a way to evaluate your own position in relation to others.

With self-awareness, you become more aware of your positionality within specific contexts or situations. It gives you access to true knowledge regarding your own thought patterns and behaviors. Without self-awareness, you will not be able to exert influence over others because influence requires a mastery of the self, primarily, not of others.

Self-awareness plays a very crucial role in the formation of one’s identity, which is the cornerstone of influence in society. Now, does self-awareness emerge along with other natural instincts, like suckling or moving around our arms when feel like we’re falling from a high place?

The answer is no: self-awareness, though it is peculiar to the human species, actually develops over a period of time. Babies are not born with a concept that they are distinct individuals moving

about in an environment with ever changing variables. An old study conducted a few decades ago proved that at the outset, babies will treat their own mirror reflections as other individuals.

However, when babies reached at eighteen months of age, they will begin to react to their reflection in the mirror by performing actions that will validate that they are indeed the ones in the mirror. For example, if you place a red dot on an eighteen month old baby’s nose, that baby will react by touching the red dot on his nose. That single action marks the transition from being ‘just’ a baby to a being a self-ware individual.

Now, why does this happen in the first place? According to studies in neurological science, it appears that the frontal lobe (which is responsible for intentional behavior) begins to develop at an accelerated pace at this age. During adulthood, there is evidence that there is also increased activity in the frontal lobe when a person chooses to be more self-aware.

There are generally two kinds of self-awareness: private self-awareness and public self-awareness. An individual becomes temporarily self-aware about his appearance or actions when he sees himself on a mirror or when he stops to think what he will be doing throughout the day. When a person chooses to engage in private self-awareness, three things happen:

  1. There is a heightened emotional response
  2. There is a more accurate analysis of existing condition
  3. There will be reinforcement of familiar beliefs

Let’s discuss these three consequences. The first consequence revolves around a person’s emotions. If a person is happy when he becomes privately self-aware, the tendency is that he will become even happier. There is a marked intensification of existing emotional states.

Inversely, a depressed individual, upon contemplating his current circumstances, may become even more depressed. A person’s state of mind is affected greatly by self-awareness and contemplation, which is why it’s important to shift out of negative emotional states because negative emotions will only attract more negative emotions.

The second consequence is that a person becomes more aware of what’s happening within himself and without. A person who is privately self-aware will base his analysis on what is truly happening rather than what is being said by others.

There is an increased drive to clarify new and existing knowledge and the person becomes more aware of the variables and conditions in his own situation. The third consequence concerns self-validation more than anything.

A person who is not self-aware will find it easier to change specific behaviors if these behaviors have a negative impact on himself; inversely, if a behavior is proving to be a beneficial behavior, he will continue on the same path.

Self-awareness on the other hand, will allow a person to ‘stick to his guns’ regardless of the impact of the behavior. Normative forces in society will not affect a person’s decision to stick to his behaviors. Influence, therefore, decreases, when a person becomes privately self-aware.

The second kind of self-awareness (based on a person’s positionality) is public self-awareness. Public self-awareness occurs when a person experiences heightened self-consciousness because he can be evaluated by another person or by a group of people (i.e. the media, an audience in a meeting, audience in an academic presentation, etc.)

Anxiety and other negative emotions are common when a person experiences public self-awareness. When you become too self-aware when you have to present something to an audience, your body language and speech will reveal your exact emotions. If you think that you will not look good when you talk to someone or when you present something to a large audience, you become even more anxious and nervous.

During periods of public self-awareness, a person also becomes aware of two different images or projections of himself: the private image (or what he thinks of himself) and the public image (the image seen by others when he is evaluated by the public). There is a big difference between what you think you look like and what others see in you.

If there is a big incongruence between these two images, people tend to think and feel negatively. Public self-awareness, unlike private self-awareness, has a normative impact on people. Public self-awareness can force a person to adhere to certain parameters of acceptable behavior. The kinds of behavior that may be adapted by a public self-aware individual will vary depending on the situation.

Now, it is important to note that it is normal for people to become self-aware at specific situations. There is nothing wrong with self-awareness; in fact, with self-awareness, you can discover more about yourself and you can improve the facets of yourself that have a direct impact on the persona that you are projecting to the public.

However, if you become too self-conscious and you fail to use this ability to reflect on your public image and your behavior, you may have to deal with certain consequences. According to studies, people who have a very high level of private self-awareness are more likely to develop neuroses or psychological problems (i.e. depression) because self-aware people tend to focus on negative aspects of their lives instead of the positive aspects.