Welcome back to another well-rounded post! This week we discuss self-awareness, what it means and how it’s helpful.
What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness is the ability to see and understand your thoughts, emotions, and actions, objectively, and you know how others view you.
Dr Scott Williams of Wright State University has broken down the key aspects of Self-Awareness listed below.
Personality – introvert, extrovert, ambivert, 5 aspects etc. Take a Myers-Briggs test to see what your personality type is. Knowing yourself in this way will help you make choices to put yourself in situations where your strengths will shine.
Values – knowing and focusing on your personal values and beliefs, makes you more likely to accomplish whatever you hold in high priority.
Habits – behaviours which we repeat routinely and automatically. Being aware of what these are within ourselves helps us make better choices when working with others or improving ourselves.
Needs – Knowing what psychological needs to fulfil for esteem, affection, belongingness, achievement, self-actualization, power, or control. Knowing which needs have the strongest influence on our behaviour and how it affects our interpersonal relationships and life choices.
Emotions – emotional self-awareness or emotional intelligence. This is the ability to understand your own feelings, why you feel them, and how they influence your thoughts and actions. This enables you to have greater control of your reaction to unexpected emotional stimuli.
Seems simple enough, but what makes self-awareness important?
Why is self-awareness significant?
Harnessing the power of self-awareness comes with tremendous benefits.
Dr Williams has outlined a few areas that can be improved in relation to managing yourself in a work environment, listed below.
Skill development – can reveal a skills gap that you may want to work on.
Strengths and weaknesses – This can help you cope with your weaknesses and exploit your strengths.
Intuitive decision-making skills – Ability to process new sudden data and choose the best course of action off instinct or a sense of what’s best. Ties into adaptability.
Stress – Jobs that don’t suit your personality usually give you more stress than jobs that are compatible with you. Self-awareness allows you to cope with whatever stresses you currently must endure.
Motivation – can reveal where performance problems are and how to improve them. Related to the “Needs” aspect, usually, our needs are strong motivating factors for what we seek out in life.
Leadership – in the process of knowing one’s self, we tend to understand others quite well, in a general sense. If you want to motivate others, it is good to know how to motivate yourself.
Dr Willams sums it up quite well in a professional work type of way. I mostly agree since everything stated is transferrable to a personal perspective. But I must mention one more thing.
Self-healing – allows you to analyse thoughts, feelings, and behavioural patterns. Once you can see the pattern and associated thoughts and feelings, it is easier to devise a way to correct the behaviour if the problem lies with you. Helps to be able to view yourself objectively.
And of course, self-awareness is a key factor in becoming more well-rounded. It enables you to choose which skills, habits or knowledge fit your needs, and to see which parts of you need attention, helping you find balance.
How do you train Self-awareness?
It takes a lot of honesty, non-biased self-analysis, and the need to seek out the truth to become self-aware.
Many seem to think that the best way to increase your self-awareness is to:
- Ask someone – This must be someone you trust, who knows you, and who respects you. These are your best friends, your family members, but they must be honest. It depends on if you have people in your life you can trust with your innermost thoughts. Luckily there are other options if you live a more private lifestyle.
- Survey/Questionnaire – There are many surveys and questionnaires out there that gauge how self-aware you are and in which way. Some are work-related, and some are personal, but they are there and can give a pretty good indication of where you may need work.
- Self-Reflection – Evaluating your own behaviour, to be able to be more mindful of how to temper your responses to stimuli. This requires you to have the ability to view yourself objectively, accept any feelings of guilt, and attempt to correct the behaviour the next time a similar scenario occurs.
- Professional services – Of course, there is always the option of seeking a professional opinion and coaching. An expert that can view you, your life, and your choices objectively, if you cannot. This is a good option to avoid a survey that may give an inaccurate result or a person who may have a warped perspective of you or even your own view of what you think you should be.
When asking someone, make sure it is a true friend or someone you trust.
If you ask the wrong person, they may tell you their own negative thoughts about you or they may project their own insecurities onto you, or they may just be dishonest about it.
A true friend will be honest with you, meaning that sometimes they will tell you something you don’t want to hear but perhaps you needed to hear it.
I started here, viewing my internal struggles.
Self – Reflection of my actions, choices, and feelings got the ball rolling, and it wasn’t pleasant.
This is best achieved in complete solitude with no outside influencing factors since this is internal reflection.
Internal self-awareness is looking honestly at your thoughts, emotions, choices, and actions.
Accepting the past and forgiving yourself. Only then can you start anew with any hopes of not repeating the things we do not desire.
This came after for me, I started to see how my presence, words, and demeanor would generally affect a group of people.
This is a little more convoluted since each social situation varies.
However, to increase your self-awareness externally, you must be mindful of how you are received by others.
Obviously, a professional work environment has different social cues and etiquette as compared to a night out with a group of friends.
To make things even more complicated, if you are beautiful or unattractive, these two factors will greatly influence how people treat you and the assumptions made about you.
Unfortunately, you need to know this about yourself to be self-aware externally.
If you are beautiful, you need to realize that people will be jealous of you for no reason and most people will absolutely assume you are promiscuous. They may also think you are dumb or unintelligent. You may also receive free items at stores and restaurants.
On the flip side, if you are generally unattractive, most will assume any and all actions you perform are somehow tied to your appearance or to “Make up” for it as if you owe people anything for being born. You may also get random pity from others.
I say unfortunately since it’s way easier to just live and not be constantly aware of how you’re being perceived.
However, you need to be aware of your appearance and what that means for you, so you can decide on what exactly it is you’d rather be doing or what suits you better.
Again, the ability to view yourself objectively is key to increasing your self-awareness. If you can do this you are capable of Self-Reflection which leads to Self-Healing and eventually Self-Forgiveness.
To see yourself objectively is to know that you are not the version of yourself you believe yourself to be. This is quite difficult for some to wrap their minds around, for others it just clicks, it may depend if you are ego-driven or not.
For me, it was more of a light bulb moment, and begrudgingly accepted over time.
Can you view yourself objectively?
If expanding your self-awareness is something you desire, just get started. Start reflecting on yourself, your life, and your choices.
Forgive yourself and move forward, the past cannot be changed.
But remember, healing is pain, and it is not always easy to start the healing process.
Be patient with yourself, and understand that healing isn’t all rainbows and sunshine.
Developing a good sense of self-awareness is the first step to a lot of things.
Getting in better shape, determining what your shortcomings are, and choosing the best way to achieve your goals can all be completed through growing your self-awareness.
Self-awareness leads the way to self-mastery and self-control.
Do you consider yourself self-aware?
Boxer, N. (1952). A study of the relationship between self-awareness and social sensitivity. New York University.
Williams, S. (n.d.). Self-Awareness and Personal Development. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from http://www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/LeaderLetter/selfawareness.htm
Osho. (2013). In Living on your own terms: What is real rebellion? St. Martin’s Griffin.