If you’re reading this article it’s most likely because you already know that self-awareness is critical to personal development.
But how do we foster greater self-awareness?
I believe the practice of becoming more self-aware is what opens the door to your potential in a way no one else can ever teach you.
Most importantly, it enables you to design a life that works for you, so you can create happiness on your terms.
Before we dive into defining “self-awareness,” let’s break it down and focus on the meaning of “awareness” first.
What Does “Awareness” Mean?
I like to think of “awareness” as what you notice in life. It’s about paying attention.
It’s the details you pick up from your perception of the world. It’s your consciousness actively gathering and processing information from your environment. It’s how you experience life.
I tend to be very aware of people. I often remember people’s names. I feel their vibe. I notice how people interact with each other in a group. I catalog their stories in my brain.
What Does “Self-Awareness” Mean?
If “awareness” is about noticing stuff in the world, “self-awareness” is about focusing your awareness on yourself.
It’s your ability to notice your feelings, your physical sensations, your reactions, your habits, your behaviors, and your thoughts.
Another way to think of it is paying attention to your intuition, also known as your 6th sense or your gut feeling.
Self-awareness is about being honest with yourself.
Self-awareness is about focusing on the reality of your behavior and not on the story you tell yourself about yourself.
Focusing on yourself and identifying your beliefs, needs, and challenges can help you manage emotions, feel empowered, and be intentional in your personal journey.
Why we Should Become More Self Aware
Several benefits are apparent in those who are more self-aware.
- greater levels of self-acceptance
- higher self-confidence
- increased emotional stability
- improved critical thinking and creativity
- less stress related to social interactions
- improved job-related satisfaction and well-being
- better communication in relationships
So if these are the traits evident in people with greater self-awareness, what does a lack of self-awareness look like?
How to Know if you Struggle with Self-Awareness
There are several key signs of someone who isn’t necessarily very self-aware:
- You play the victim card when receiving negative feedback
- You place blame, make excuses and avoid taking responsibility
- There’s often drama in your relationships
- You find it hard to say “I don’t know”
- You’re controlling
- You never change your opinion
- You constantly need approval (validation)
- You talk all the time
- You are unable to laugh at yourself
- You focus on short-term happiness too much
- You are emotionally volatile and often your emotional reactions don’t match the situation
- You say negative and critical things often
- You go out of your way to prove that you’re right
However, the fact that you’re reading this article suggests that you’re headed in the right direction.
How to Become More Self-Aware
In the context of personal development or lifestyle design, self-awareness is the first step toward creating the kind of life that you’ve always wanted.
It is the mechanism for acquiring self-knowledge and the path to learning which habits serve you and which don’t.
1. Stop Ignoring Your Feelings, Explore Them
Many of the people I interview or coach about feeling “stuck” in their lives, often describe a “feeling they could no longer ignore.”
When we start to investigate the source of these unexplained feelings and sensations, we are beginning a deeper practice of self-awareness. As you explore one area, it gives way to even more subtle sensations and sheds light on nuanced circumstances of our behavior.
Exploring the unknown can be scary. We believe we have to have everything “figured out” by the time we are 30. Becoming self-aware about unresolved feelings threatens everything we thought we were supposed to be working toward.
If you stop ignoring those feelings you can start to embrace curiosity – exploring them through a practice of self-awareness.
At the very least you will learn more about yourself and how you can live in more close alignment with who you really are.
Similarly, we’ve been taught to shut our feelings out of our decision-making process and to rely solely on our rational thoughts. But I believe this compromises our decision-making process and that to make effective decisions, we need both rational thought and our feelings. We need to pay attention to our gut as much as our brains.
2. Look at yourself objectively.
Trying to see yourself as you really are can be a very difficult process, but if you make the right efforts, getting to know your real self can be extremely rewarding. When you are able to see yourself objectively, you can learn how to accept yourself and find ways to improve yourself in the future.
3. Keep a Journal.
The next step to practicing self-awareness is making a habit of tracking your feelings
Very simply, start writing down your most positive feelings and your most negative feelings. Keep a journal or note on your phone. Try it for at least 30 days.
Begin to notice patterns and trends. This simple practice will help you better define your purpose, your values, your motivations, and anything holding you back from the work you’ve always wanted to do.
As you self-reflect, take some time to think about how you are a leader, and how people working under you likely view you. How are you perceived? What are your values, and what is most important to you right now?
4. Perform Daily Self-Reflection.
In order to have self-awareness, you must do self-reflection. This requires setting aside some time, to honestly look at yourself as a person. Committing to this practice can help you improve.
5. Practice meditation and other mindfulness habits.
Meditation is the practice of improving your mindful awareness. Most types of meditation focus on the breath, but not all meditation and mindfulness have to be formal. You can also find greater clarity from regular moments of reflection.
During your meditations, you may stop to think about some specific questions.
I hope that you’ve found value in this article and understand the importance of continuing to develop your own self-awareness.
Self-awareness is also one of the key indicators of individuals with a high degree of emotional intelligence. Read more here.
PS: If you would like help with developing self-awareness, let’s talk over an introductory Clarity Call.
Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.