By: Ismail M Taher
Sometimes in life, we catch ourselves doing certain things or exhibiting certain behaviors that we wouldn’t normally do or exhibit. We struggle with our identity and feelings, when we don’t even understand why we are feeling a certain way, or acting in a certain way.
Millions of people suffer through toxic relationships, abusive friendships, or generally negative life conditions without even realizing that they’re in a bad condition.
Many continue their lives, burying piles of unhealed pain and unresolved traumas beneath that picture-perfect smile and socially acceptable persona.
The problem is, as people continue doing this they gradually lose touch with their identity and their very reality, which in turn, makes them act or behave in ways they don’t even understand.
Fortunately, a large portion of our seemingly inexplicable emotions or behaviors stem from a single reason: the lack of self-awareness.
Now before asking me “What on earth is ‘self-awareness?”, please take a few minutes and stick through the rest of the article, and I’m confident you’ll get all your answers at the end.
“So, what is self-awareness, and how does it impact my life?”
First of all, let’s explore the very definition of self-awareness, according to Collin’s dictionary:
“Self-awareness in British
The quality of being conscious of one's own feelings, character, etc.”
So, on a very basic level, and as we defined above, self-awareness is the state of being completely cognizant of all your feelings, emotions and behaviors.
“But what is the importance of being self-aware?”
You’re probably asking,
The answer is quite simple. Have you ever asked yourself why do certain people behave in certain ways? Have you ever asked yourself why do some people have a hard time accepting criticism, while others use that the same criticism only to prosper and grow?
This is the difference between self-aware people and non-self-aware people, in action.
In very simple terms, self-awareness is the ability to constantly monitor your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, to the point of being totally in tune with your behaviors and what’s going on through your busy mind.
“So, what difference does self-awareness make?”
To answer this question, let me first explain what it feels like to not be self-aware.
If you’re not self-aware, you’re in poor control of your feelings and emotions, which in turn makes you more likely to struggle with overthinking and identity crisis.
If you’re not self-aware, you struggle to understand what you truly want, and what you primarily value. That makes it really tough to succeed or move forward through life.
If you’re not self-aware, you might be surprised at your exaggerated reactions or anger towards the simplest of situations, only because your inner confusion manifests itself as raging anger directed at the external world.
If you’re not self-aware, you are more likely to be suffering from a weak or even nonexistent self-worth, which makes you accept situations or people that are toxic or even abusive to you.
On the other hand…
If you’re self-aware, you become in a 100% control of your emotions, which in turn makes you understand yourself, love yourself, and be kind to yourself even during the hardest of times.
If you’re self-aware, you become well-aware of your wants, desires and talents. That makes it much easier for you to go after your dreams and put your natural gifts into the best use.
If you’re self-aware, you will be much less likely to experience unexplained emotions or raging outbursts, because you’ll already be aware of everything you’re feeling and how you can deal with all of your emotions in a healthy way.
If you’re self-aware, it becomes almost effortless to build a strong notion of self-worth and confidence, because you will have already loved yourself and accepted yourself enough even with all of its flaws, imperfections and shortcomings.
In an article published on Psychology Today by Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., the author sums up the significance of self-awareness in brilliant words, she says:
“High self-awareness is a solid predictor of good success in life, perhaps because a self-aware person knows when an opportunity is a good fit for them and how to make an appropriate enterprise work well.
Quite frankly, most of us are running on “autopilot,” hardly aware of why we succeed or fail, or why we behave as we do.
Our minds are so busy with daily chatter that we usually only self-reflect when something goes awfully wrong. Perhaps we stumble through a job interview or academic test we thought we were well prepared for, or we handle something in our lives awkwardly that we assumed we were good at, or perhaps we lose a romantic partner over some misunderstanding where feelings got hurt.
Our response in challenging situations is often to get defensive, make excuses, or blame another person, because we don’t want to see our own part in the disaster. If we can observe ourselves during such incidents, it will be a good start to self-awareness.”
“So, how can I develop self-awareness?”
Here are 4 simple ways you can start developing your self-awareness today:
#1 Talk to yourself, and LISTEN!
This is by far, the most important step to build self-awareness.
In order to become truly self-aware, you must learn how to talk to yourself. Talking to yourself does not have to be taken literally, but it can be as simple as carrying out conversations in your head, listening to your thoughts, responding to them, and better understanding what is going on through it
#2 focus on building self-confidence, self-acceptance and positive self-worth.
As I briefly mentioned earlier in the article, self-awareness is intrinsically woven into the very fabric of self-confidence. You can’t be truly self-aware without being self-confident; and you can’t fully accept and love yourself the way it is, without being self-aware.
See? There is a two-way relationship between confidence and self-awareness. In order to have one, you need to build the other and vice-versa.
That’s why, I emphatically recommend you start building your self-confidence by being self-aware of your thoughts, practicing positive self-talk, taking self-care seriously, and learning how to fully accept yourself and show it the love it deserves.
For my two blog posts dedicated specifically for building self-confidence and self-acceptance, see below:
How to build your self-confidence from scratch
The importance of self-acceptance
#3 Spend time with yourself
When we’re constantly surrounded by noise, it becomes really harder to be completely self-aware. That’s why; I highly recommend you take time off with just yourself. It can be as simple as taking a leisurely walk while paying careful attention to your thoughts.
As you start spending time alone with your mind and self, you start tuning in t the subtle intricacies of your thoughts and personality. That way, you start to gradually become more self-aware, and more along the same wavelength as your mind.
#4 View yourself through an objective lens
So as I told you the importance of self-reflection and time with yourself, I also want to warn you against spending too much time with yourself.
If you’re constantly paying attention to your own thoughts, without any sort of feedback from the outside world, you risk becoming too involved in your own head to be able to see yourself objectively.
That’s why, as I recommended spending healthy amounts of time alone to reflect, I also recommend you always ask for feedback from external sources like friends and family.
Another way to receive feedback is to monitor and observe the reactions you get from everyone around you.
The reason I’m saying this is that, in order to become truly self-aware, you’ll have to first accept yourself with all of its flaws.
The only way to do this is to actually become aware of your imperfections and shortcomings. Seeking honest feedback will always let you know if you’re on the right path or need some urgent corrections.
The key determinant of a healthy relationship with yourself is being able to see yourself through an objective lens, which makes it much easier for you to become aware whenever you’re doing something wrong or being on the wrong path.
Too much involvement in your own thoughts without feedback from external environments will inevitably lead to insecurity and inflated sense of importance; which is the polar opposite of positive self-love.
To properly finish off the article, I’d like to quote some insanely valuable words about self-awareness, by the American-Belarusian entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuck. He says:
“There is something that is rarely talked about in the business world and I want to start building more attention for it.
That thing is self-awareness.
I’m upset that the narrative these days is that everyone needs to be number one, own a company, be in charge.
A lot of people are going to lose that way.
Self-awareness allows people to recognize what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses.
What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. I want people to learn to be at peace with themselves, to understand what they can offer, because everyone’s got something.
The key, however, is learning how to find it.
Self-awareness can help you do that.
Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths.
The moment you decide to accept your shortcomings and bet entirely on your strengths, things will change. Trust me.”
Are you interested in testing your self-awareness now for FREE?
Check out this super-cool self-awareness test that uses Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and can get you started on your journey towards greater self-awareness!
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