What is self-awareness and why is it important? Self-awareness is the capacity to examine and sit with your own thoughts and feelings, viewing yourself as a unique individual, separate from your surroundings. Introspection, self-reflection, and observation are all components of self-awareness. This ability to see yourself plays into your health and well-being.
When you have a high degree of self-awareness, you are able to correctly see all aspect of yourself quite clearly. These aspects include your strengths and what traits you’re most proud of, while also accepting your weaknesses, and acknowledging the ways in which you’re improving. It’s the ability to embrace and accept all parts of yourself; your thinking patterns, emotions, motivations, and beliefs.
The motivation behind developing greater self-awareness is the ability to change harmful belief and behavior patterns. There’s virtually no hope of changing negative thought patterns, and less-than-ideal behaviors, without some degree of self-reflection and awareness. Acknowledgement is the first step on the road to change.
Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are intricately connected. Can you think back to a time when your emotions were out of control and volatile? I can think of many instances in my own life. The situations where I didn’t reflect on what I was feeling and why, my emotions got the better of me, and negative consequences followed.
Juxtapose that with the times I did sit with my thoughts and feelings, contemplating where they came from. Those were the times I could deflect destructive behavior, because I was able to evaluate the origin of my feelings, and make sense of them. If feelings are felt, inappropriate behavior to try and deal with them, isn’t necessary.
Being cognizant of your own feelings and behaviors, equips you to better empathize with how others feel and why they act the way they do. Emotional maturity is essential for meaningful relationships. Connection, the life-blood of relationships, isn’t possible without some degree of self-knowledge. It’s difficult to give fully to others what you don’t possess yourself.
Here are two great books on self-awareness:
All personal success and accomplishment are byproducts of self-observation, and the course correction that naturally follows. This clarity, necessary to initiate change, is a direct result from the emotional intelligence gleaned from self-awareness. Recognizing and evaluating emotions as they happen develops self-awareness. I believe it is a skill because it can be learned.
This information regarding one’s emotions, leads to the effective management of those feelings, and the ability to see the effect those emotions have on others. Another positive result of self-awareness is increased feelings of self-worth and confidence because awareness fosters the ability to see one’s abilities and accomplishments realistically.
1. Do you feel confident in your abilities to tackle life’s challenges?
2. Can you put your emotions on the back burner until you can effectively deal with them?
3. Do you fall apart when criticized, or take constructive action, leading to improvement?
4. Do you have a strong enough sense of self to be comfortable with your own company?
5. Are you suspicious of others, or is it easy for you to trust others?
6. Do you try your best in every situation, confident in your unique skills and abilities?
7. Do you refrain from falling apart when things don’t turn out as planned?
8. Do you have the emotional maturity to openly discuss issues, without judgment, in your intimate relationships, or do you avoid conflict altogether?
9. Can you make mistakes without beating yourself up?
10. Can you graciously accept compliments offered to you?
11. Do you generally view yourself in a favorable light, taking into account your weaknesses and past mistakes?
12. Do you take responsibility for the trajectory of your life or blame it on happenstance with no responsibility on your part?
The more questions you answered in the affirmative, the greater your level of self-awareness. If your skills aren’t where you want them to be, try the self-awareness exercises in the next section.
Self-awareness is the number one asset determining your level of success in life. Without self awareness, it will be difficult to choose the right career, the ideal relationships, or perform to the degree you’re capable of. Self-awareness helps you reach your highest potential. Those who cultivate awareness are better able to set goals, working systematically to achieve them.
Here are five strategies you can engage in to further your personal journey of evolution:
Meditation is a great way to practice and increase awareness. Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule every day to reflect on your life. Essentially, meditation is getting in touch with yourself. Sit quietly, while concentrating on the simple act of breathing. Observe your thoughts and feelings. Your greatest inspirations may come during these moments of pause.
This is a good time, without distractions, to check in with yourself. Ask yourself important questions like: “Am I effectively prioritizing my time?” What strategies can I put in place to assure that I am?” “What am I doing in my life that’s working, and what do I need to change?” “Am I progressing in my goals, or do I need to re-evaluate?”
So many of us are in survival mode that we don’t take the time to just think. Thinking is how we sort things out, and come up with new ways of doing things.
2. Journal writing
The act of writing gets you in touch with your thoughts and feelings, providing insights into what is and isn’t working. Record your concerns, track your progress in meeting your goals, and write down what you’re grateful for.
The act of writing aligns perspective, bringing to awareness issues that need to be sorted out. Over time certain patterns of behavior may be uncovered, and consequently dealt with. Documentation precedes improvement. There’s something therapeutic about writing in a journal.
3. Determine Three Reasons Before Acting
Acting on purpose increases your chances of success by identifying your underlying motives and purpose. This exercise provides clues to what your authentic self is truly seeking.
Weed out any ulterior motives and detrimental impulses, that could be potentially harmful to yourself and others, by first identifying three valid reasons justifying your actions. If these reasons align with your life goals, go ahead and act.
4. Expand Your Emotional Vocabulary And Express Your Feelings
Investing in your emotional world, enriches, not only your life, but those around you. Meaningful connections aren’t possible without emotional intelligence, which isn’t possible without self-awareness.
Many professions require a high degree of emotional maturity. Consider the fields of counseling, teaching, or any other field that requires leadership skills, and the ability to show compassion and empathy.
Your emotional health dictates how efficacious you’ll be in these areas. Emotional awareness and strong communication skills make you accessible to others. This accessibility makes you likable and trustworthy. Transparency promotes trust.
I wonder if the rates of anxiety and other mental-health challenges would not be skyrocketing like they are if more of us were in tune with our inner worlds? Could this one practice greatly reduce crime rates and episodes of violence?
5. Be Aware Of Your Self Talk
We all have a running commentary going on in our minds at all times. Being aware of this continual commentary will alert you to any self-sabotaging patterns and behaviors that are brewing. Monitor and control your self-talk instead of letting it continue unabated.
Is you inner voice constantly berating and beating you up? Realize you are separate from your thoughts, and stop identifying with them. Control unproductive thoughts by noticing what is parading in your mind. Be an active participant in your thought life, rather than automatically believing every thought you have.
Self-awareness is a foundational component of healthy relationships, whether that relationship is with yourself, an intimate partnership, or social and business interactions.
Knowing yourself enhances your capacity to truly see, know, and care for others. Tame the enemy within by cultivating self-awareness, and notice the positive changes that result.
What is your level of self-awareness according to the quiz? Is there room for improvement? Let me know in the comments:)