Sadly enough, due to the mass marketing of spiritual ideas and the glut of iconic imagery that goes with that, many people these days believe they are already self-aware and "living in the Light." So, the first step for those of us wishing to escape the painful limitations of any harmful relationship with our own present nature -- or with others -- begins with admitting the following to ourselves: yes, we have the awareness we need to "get through" life and to resolve many of its issues; but this power to rationalize the world we walk through is only part of the whole story: our continuing conflict within our own heart and mind (as well as with others) clearly reveals that this level of awareness is not enough.
The late great mystic Vernon Howard, a spiritual giant, had a favorite saying when it came to seeing the truth about our present level of development. He would often tell his students, "The medicine is bitter, but it heals!" It's true; and so is the fact that almost all of humanity is asleep to itself; six-and-a-half billion "sleep-walkers" who -- even as they move through life -- are all but oblivious to the reality of the invisible worlds within them shaping their lives.
It is to help us discover this unseen state of our self that authentic spiritual "exercises" came to exist and have been passed along down through the ages. Their true purpose was never to empower human beings with what the sleeping mind dreamed would rescue it, but to awaken the "sleeper" within -- the True Self -- to its unnatural state of imprisonment. True illumination is liberation from the illusion of passing time and the world of thought that creates it.
So, the purpose of any true interior practice is not to help us "do" or achieve something in the world that will make our future a brighter one, but to help us see something now about our present level of being. But our wish and work to be aware of ourselves isn't just to see ourselves through this Light of higher awareness, but also to allow its celestial presence to act upon us.
We cannot change ourselves; nothing in the created universe can make itself greater than it already is. This means our responsibility is not to try and enhance ourselves through our various relationships in life, but rather to discover and realize ourselves through them.