On a scale of 1-10, how self-aware do you think you are?
If you don’t know how to answer this question, you aren’t alone. One study estimates that only 10-15% of people are truly self-aware.
If self-awareness is so important, why do so many people struggle with it, let alone understand what it means?
A big reason is because we live in a world where we are conditioned to operate on autopilot.
This busy mindset doesn’t leave room for much self-reflection and introspection. By not taking the time to connect with ourselves, we stop paying attention to what is going on internally. As you can imagine, this can be a recipe for an emotional disaster.
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is the foundation for personal growth. It involves understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick.
If you want to strive to be a better person, you need to get intimate with yourself, meaning you’ve got to know who you are and who you are not. Moreover, you’ve got to be able to accurately monitor your inner world, as well as accept who you are with an open heart.
This is where a lot of people get stuck.
It takes courage to go deep with yourself and look at messy emotions that you don’t necessarily want to acknowledge, let alone work on. Let’s face it… growth isn’t always pretty. In fact, it sometimes feels like an uphill climb. However, it is the one thing that is required if you want to level up your life and become more of who you want to be.
“Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.” — Lawrence Bossidy
The benefits of self-awareness are far-reaching, some of which include, greater empathy and listening skills, improved critical-thinking skills and decision making, strengthened relationships, and enhanced leadership capabilities and capacity.
How Do You Know If You Are Self-Aware?
Many people think that self-awareness is this grandiose skill that only super smart people understand. This is far from true. If you have fallen victim to this type of thinking, I want to share some signs that you may be more self-aware than you actually think you are.
You’re Unapologetically Yourself
If you aren’t afraid to speak your truth, for fear that others won’t accept you for who you are, the chances are you’ve got a high level of self-awareness.
Self-aware people live from a place of integrity. They are unapologetically themselves, in the sense that they don’t allow the noise of others’ judgments to veer them off track. In other words, they know how to stay in their own lane.
You’re a Master of Your Emotions
When life doesn’t go your way, self-aware people don’t react and throw in the towel. They understand that irrational behaviors only make you spiral into a negative hole. Hence, they stop and think before they respond to challenges.
They know that if they don’t master their emotions, their emotions will master them. By becoming aware of their emotions, they are able to maintain a sense of clarity and peace of mind, no matter what is going on in their environment.
You Listen to Yourself
Self-aware individuals pride themselves on their ability to pay attention and tune into what is happening inside of them. Your intuition rarely ever lies.
I have yet to meet anyone who has said to me, “My gut is a liar.” Self-aware people listen to what their gut tells them. When something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. By trusting the messages or feelings that they are receiving, self-aware people are better able to make decisions that positively influence their lives.
You’ve Got Strong Boundaries
Self-aware people don’t let others walk all over them. They know that they can’t be all things for all people, which is why they establish strong boundaries with others.
Setting a boundary is the ability to recognize the need for a healthy separation between your thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of others.
By taking care of their emotional needs first, self-aware people are better able to take care of themselves.
How to Become Self-Aware
Becoming self-aware is the first step in the creation of your ideal future. It’s the personal commitment to yourself that you are ready and willing to upgrade your current reality. Once you are more aware of your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, you become empowered to make changes that serve your highest self.
1. Keep a Journal
One of the most powerful tools for building self-awareness is through journaling. This is a great way to get to connect with your inner world on a deeper level and communicate with any subconscious feelings you might be overlooking.
The act of writing provides a space for unexpressed feelings to be acknowledged. The question is…. what do you write about? I would suggest that you focus on one area of your life where you currently feel stuck.
At the beginning of each day, do a brain dump and express, in writing, all of the random things that you’ve been thinking about. This approach has the potential for getting your creative juices flowing and reduces the influence of your rational thoughts.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can help you fully experience the totality of your emotions. When you are mindful, you have greater control over your emotional self. In turn, you will feel more calm and less stress. This quiet time is a perfect opportunity to reflect on your feelings in the present moment.
Increased mindfulness influences our ability to think about our choices, as well as our ability to experience pleasure, reduce emotional reactivity and increase attention.
Your body is always communicating with you. The question is, are you listening to it? A lot of people are too stuck in their heads, which in turn, disconnects them from their bodies. A great self-awareness practice for getting more in touch with yourself is by doing a body scan.
Take some time every day to close your eyes and notice how each area of your body feels. By connecting with your body intelligence, you will feel more grounded overall.
3. Ask for Feedback from Others
In my opinion, honest and constructive feedback is the most valuable way to develop a greater level of self-awareness.
We all have blind spots. What are yours? If you don’t know, it’s time to ask someone!
Feedback is a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses so you can figure out how to harness and or improve them. This will require that you get humble and drop you ego.
By asking others for their input about how they perceive you and your actions, you will feel empowered to change those parts of yourself that may be holding you back from becoming the person whom you aspire to be.
4. Challenge Yourself
A great way to practice self-awareness and work on becoming a better person is to undertake something significant. True growth comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking risks. That is when your figure out who you truly are as a person.
All of this is easier said than done. Change can be hard, especially if you have behaved one way for most of your life. This is why staying in your comfort zone feels so good. It is a space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk.
Security is “nice” but it will kill your productivity. Challenging yourself and putting everything on the line helps propel you forward and fuels your personal growth.
If you want to be your best self, you’ve got to be willing to test your limits and free yourself from who people think you “should” be so that you can figure out who you were meant to be.
Self-awareness is the key to self-mastery. By making the commitment to discover new truths about yourself, you will grow and improve every area of your life. When you know who you are, there is nothing you cannot do.
You cannot improve yourself if you are not self-aware. In the words of Eckhart Tolle,
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”
What actions will you take today to grow your self-awareness muscle and change your life for the better?