We usually identify our existence with our position in society, our friends and family, the needs and desires of our body, and the emotional and intellectual expressions of our mind. For example: We might say ‘I am a student studying economics, I have three sisters and live in London’. We rarely take the time to contemplate the real nature of our existence; to ask the question, “Who am I?”
Self awareness is about learning to better understand why you feel what you feel and why you behave in a particular way. Once you begin to understand this concept you then have the opportunity and freedom to change things about yourself enabling you to create a life that you want. It’s almost impossible to change and become self-accepting if you are unsure as to who you are. Having clarity about who you are and what you want can be empowering, giving you the confidence to make changes.
Try this challenge
Think about describing yourself to another person without mentioning anything about the external things that are in your life, your friends, family, studying etc. Concentrate only on yourself, how you feel and behave, perhaps recognising some of your strengths and weaknesses.
Did you manage to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours?
It’s easy to get caught up in irrational thoughts and beliefs and live out internal dramas that can severely affect the way we perceive ourselves and consequently determine our feelings and actions. Relationships are easy until there is emotional turmoil. This is the same whether you are at work or in your personal life. When you can change the interpretation in your mind of what you think, you can change your emotions and shift the emotional quality of your relationships. When you can change the emotions in your relationships you open up entirely new possibilities in your life.
Having a clear understanding of your thought and behaviour patterns helps you understand other people. This ability to empathise facilitates better personal and professional relationships.
Is self-awareness important?
Self awareness is important because when we have a better understanding of ourselves, we are able to experience ourselves as unique and separate individuals. We are then empowered to make changes and to build on our areas of strength as well as identify areas where we would like to make improvements. Self-awareness is often a first step to goal setting. Self-awareness is being conscious of what you’re good at while acknowledging what you still have yet to learn. This includes admitting when you don’t have the answer and owning up to mistakes.
In our highly competitive culture, this can seem counter-intuitive. In fact, many of us operate on the belief that we must appear as though we know everything all the time or else people will question our abilities, and then perhaps judge us. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit that really the opposite is true. Because whether you acknowledge your weaknesses or not, everyone still sees them. So rather than conceal them, the person who tries to hide weaknesses actually highlights them, creating the perception of a lack of integrity and self-awareness.
Here are a few ways of doing just that:
- Learn to look at yourself objectively
- Write your own manifesto
- Keep a journal
- Perform a self-review
It’s important to remember that self-awareness is introspection, but it’s not navel gazing. Self-absorption and overthinking doesn’t get you anywhere, but being aware of your needs and acting on them can help you improve.