How self-aware are you? On a scale of 1 – 10, where do you think you sit when it comes to self-awareness? Do you know your true character? Are you honest about your feelings and emotions and how they affect you in different situations? In this post, we are going to look at how to be more self-aware and why self-awareness is so important.
Self-awareness is where we take a long hard (but also compassionate) look at ourselves and uncover our true selves. Being more self-aware is about realness and honesty, especially when it comes to dealing with the parts of ourselves that we don’t particularly like.
I personally find that self-awareness can be helped along with a big dose of objectivity. Think of it like jumping out of your body and looking down on yourself and reviewing the facts. It’s about disconnecting from your ego, so you can get a clear picture. When you are being objective, you get a better look at your behaviors and actions (without all the emotions thrown in).
Then we can combine the logic we gained from being objective and the emotions that we are dealing with and work from there.
To make the most of self-awareness and have it work to our advantage we have to learn how to be honest with ourselves.
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Let’s dive into how to become more self-aware.
Spend quality time on reflection
While many of us spend a lot of time thinking (or is that overthinking!), what we don’t often do is take quality time to reflect. The emphasis here is on the word quality.
By reflection, I mean examining our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
An important point to remember is that reflection doesn’t involve your shopping list or your list of errands. This is not about your to-do list.
A big part of self-awareness is being aware of what thoughts we should throw straight into the rubbish bin of our minds and which ones are actually worth our time thinking about. It’s safe to say that a good chunk of our thoughts are the rubbish bin variety!
Reflecting on the past can be tricky. You don’t want to go down the hole of blame, anger and misery.
While reflection may involve examining your past, the reason for reflection is focused on the future. It’s about learning from your past (not making yourself miserable by it) and doing better going forward.
I have a simple but effective technique I use whenever I feel myself slipping down the ‘lost in the past’ rabbit hole. I call it my Today and Tomorrow plan. My technique is to say these 3 words – today and tomorrow – calmly to myself (sometimes more than once) to get my mind back to where it needs to be in the present.
These three words said calmly and in a focused manner are the trigger for my mind to bring me back into the moment and leave the past behind where it belongs.
Take regular time to reflect
While many people might reflect around New Year’s, to truly benefit from reflection you need to be monitoring yourself on a regular basis.
Personally, I write in my High Performance Planner every day. The planner includes morning questions to start your day energised, as well as evening questions to close out your day. There are also weekly reflection questions and a monthly check-in to see how you are feeling and progressing.
If you really want to get the most out of your High Performance Planner then make sure you read the excellent companion book High Performance Habits. These two books go hand and hand and work brilliantly together. Both books are by Brendon Burchard. I’m a huge fan of all of Brendon’s books and journals and use them regularly. They’ve really helped me improve my life.
I’ll admit, sometimes I get distracted and skip the monthly planner check-ins but I’ve noticed that whenever I miss these exercises, I am more likely to go off track and loss my focus. When I stay consistent, I stay on track.
Ask yourself powerful, indepth questions
An important thing to remember when asking yourself powerful in-depth questions is not to be afraid of the answers.
One of the main reasons we don’t ask ourselves the hard questions in life is because we don’t want to have to face the answers.
We don’t want to deal with any fallout or consequences. We’d often rather live in denial. We would rather hide and numb ourselves. (I’m guilty of this as well, so there is absolutely no judgment here!)
When it comes to asking yourself the hard questions, remember it’s okay if you don’t know the answers straight away.
The goal is to uncover the answers.
It’s okay to ask yourself questions and take the time to work out the answers.
As a Questioner personality type, I love to ask questions, so make sure you check out my variety of question-filled posts listed below.
- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Had a Tough Year
- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Want to Find Love
- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship
- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself to Get Back on Track
- 20 Questions to Reflect on Your Challenges for the Year
- 20 Questions to Reflect on Your Joys for the Year
Journal your thoughts and feelings
One of the best ways to work through the abundance of thoughts that fly through our heads at any given time is to journal and write them down.
In the wonderful book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she talks about a practice called the Morning Pages.
The morning pages are where you sit and free write a couple of pages every morning. It’s a bit like doing a brain dump. You don’t spell-check or think too much about it all. You just write until you have filled your pages. I used this practice for quite a long time and it improved my clarity and creativity.
You might prefer a guided journal that guides you through thought-provoking questions. An excellent one is Brendon Burchard’s, High Performance Journal.
Some other guided journals you might like are –
- Present, Not Perfect: A Journal for Slowing Down, Letting Go and Loving Who You Are by Aimee Chase
- Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel
- Burn After Writing by Sharon Jones
Pay close attention to the things you say and do
This one is really important. While we are often quick to get upset by what other people say and do, we can sometimes be completely oblivious about the things we say and do ourselves.
For instance, we may criticize other people for things that they do, without realizing that we do exactly the same thing!
When you are not self-aware you are likely to do this on a regular basis.
Start paying more attention to what people do that upsets you and get real about whether you are doing any of these things yourself. Even if you aren’t doing the exact same thing, you may have characteristics that are similar to the person you are criticizing.
Related posts –
- How to Stop Lying to Yourself About Your Feelings and Emotions
- Do You Know When You Are Lying to Yourself
- Who Are You Really Mad At?
Pay attention to how you act when you are stressed, anxious, and angry
How do you react when you are stressed?
Do you lash out, lose your temper, take it out on the people around you? Do you withdraw?
How do you react when you are feeling anxious?
How do you react when you feel hurt by another person? Do you go out of your way to hurt that person or do you work on how to process your emotions to deal with the pain?
You need to be aware of how you act in different situations.
When you are aware of how you act, you can start working on changing your responses.
Sometimes we need help dealing with our feelings. Make sure you reach out for help from a trained counselor or medical professional when you need it. Getting help can make all the difference and you deserve that.
Pay attention to what makes you happy and joyful
Self-awareness is also about joy. Knowing what makes you happy and brings joy and peace into your life.
Unfortunately, we often use self-awareness to focus on all of our perceived flaws and faults and the things we think we need to ‘fix’ about ourselves.
Self-awareness is much more than that. Joy, beauty, gratitude, laughter, happiness should all be a part of our lives and self-awareness plays a role in working out how to bring more of those things into our everyday lives.
Be aware of what makes you joyful and do more of it as often as you can.
For a post to be more aware of the joy in your life read – 50 Things You Love About Your Life.
Track your habits
Our habits say a lot about us (whether we want them to or not).
We often have a lot of habits we are not aware of. Though they may seem like small habits, they can have a huge impact on our lives, particularly when it comes to our health, wealth, and relationships.
Being aware of your habits is the first step in changing them.
I wrote an in-depth post about how awareness can help in many common situations, so make sure you read the post 10 Situations Where Awareness Can Help with Changing Habits.
A brilliant book on changing habits is Atomic Habits by James Clear.
For more great books on habits make sure you check out – 10 Best Books on Habits – Learn How To Break Old Habits and Create New Ones.
If you enjoy a good quote (or 20!), you may also enjoy – 20 Quotes on Habits – Get Inspired to Break Old Habits and Create New Ones
Pay attention to who you are blaming
Another way to improve your self-awareness is to track who you are blaming and how often you are doing it!
If you constantly blame other people for your problems, there is most likely a disconnect with your self-awareness.
This isn’t about feeling guilty all the time and taking on everyone else’s blame (that’s more about adopting a victim mentality).
When you start examining who you blame and why you will probably notice habits and repetition. You might blame your boss when something goes wrong at work or blame a family member for the same thing over and over again.
If you are anything like me, the person you are blaming might be yourself. If that’s the case, it’s something you need to be aware of and start to work on. You will need to work through those feelings and find a way to stop blaming or sabotaging yourself.
Posts that may help –
- 12 Things to Remember When You Feel Not Good Enough
- 10 Ways High Self-Esteem and Self-Worth Can Have a Huge Impact on Your Life
Pay attention to how you treat people
You are a human being on this amazing planet that interacts with other human beings.
How you treat people, animals and the planet matters. It matters a LOT.
You need to be aware of how you are treating the people and world around you and make personal changes when you aren’t treating people, animals, and the planet respectfully.
Self-awareness isn’t about being selfish. This whole self-awareness gig isn’t about entitlement.
You can look at yourself openly, honestly, and compassionately without thinking that the whole world revolves around you and that you and your needs are the center of the universe and screw everybody else.
How you treat people is important. Start being more aware of how you interact with the people around you. If you want to immediately improve your relationships, be kinder to people.
Related post that can help you interact with others – 20 Ways to Show Genuine Interest in People’s Lives
Be honest with yourself
We are often quick to judge other people for their actions without examining our own. We might think we hate bullies but never have the courage to honestly ask ourselves – do I ever bully people? Did I bully someone who didn’t agree with my point of view?
Was I the bully in that situation?
We say we hate bullying but we flock by the millions to reality television shows which (in my personal opinion) is all based on the concept of bullying and judgment. We get to judge the stupid people for yelling and screening on the stupid show that we can’t stop watching.
We don’t want to get honest with ourselves and admit we like judging people. Yet we might be very loud at expressing to our family or friends that we hate being judged!
Judgment and bullying are just two examples. I could write pages of things we dislike about other people that we do ourselves, often without realizing.
Being honest with ourselves is important for self-awareness. We need to be aware that sometimes we are the awful, jealous, mean, selfish person in a situation. And you know what – that is good news because once we are aware of it we can start to work on ourselves to change and improve our behavior.
Let’s look at why self-awareness is so important.
Self-awareness helps us change
You can’t change what you aren’t aware of.
If you don’t know you act a certain way when you are in a particular situation you can’t look for different or better ways to act going forward. Instead, you will continue with the same behavior (which might be hurting you and the people around you) without you being aware.
I’m not saying this stuff is easy.
But it is essential.
Here is the kicker about self-awareness.
Getting self-aware is all fine and dandy but it’s only the first part of a very important equation.
The next (vitally important) step is taking action on what you have learned. Taking action is the part the improves and changes your life. Many of us (and again I have done this myself in the past) skip this step, which is why our lives don’t change all that much.
Tony Robbins says it perfectly in this quote.
The path to success is to take massive, determined action.Tony Robbins
If you want to make changes to your life, you need to take action to make those changes a reality. In the quote above, Tony talks about taking massive action but in some situations, lots of small actions count as well.
Take for example being kinder to people, every small action helps. Consistency makes a big difference in taking action.
If you know you are treating someone in your life badly (including yourself!), you can work on a plan to change your behavior.
I love the below quote.
The best apology is changed behavior.Unknown
When we read this quote we often think of other people but it applies to ourselves as well.
When we change our behavior we move toward forgiveness. Being self-aware and forgiving ourselves can be a powerful force in our lives.
Related posts that can help –
Self-awareness can help us grow
Self-awareness can help up grow. Again it takes action and doing the work on our part.
I know that self-awareness and personal growth can sometimes be a struggle. I know from experience that it can sometimes feel like a 1-step forward, 2-steps back type of situation.
But the struggle is always worth it.
The struggle leads to joy, growth, and being more at peace with ourselves.
Self-awareness is about personal growth. It’s about growing as a person and knowing and trusting yourself. Be more self-aware. Be your amazing self.
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