Self-Awareness: Why become Self-aware and How?
Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection. It’s your ability to notice your feelings, your physical sensations, your reactions, your habits, your behaviors, and your thoughts.
To be self-aware means you are conscious of your emotions, your feelings, your attitudes, your thoughts, your reaction and basically everything about you that happens which could be inwardly or outwardly.
Self-awareness can be a bit difficult to achieve because we hardly ever see things that concern us from an objective place. Somehow, emotions come into play and we sometimes don’t like admitting unpleasant things about us. Although hard, self-awareness is achievable and should be embraced. All these can happen if you do so intentionally.
Why should you be Self-aware?
Self-awareness helps to be proactive, helps with acceptance, and encourages positive self-development. It also allows us to see things from the perspective of others, practice self-control, work creatively and productively, and build self-esteem.
When you are self-aware, you get to see your strengths and weaknesses. With this, you get to accept them and know where to change and do better. If you know yourself well, you know what you can do; your capabilities and your limits.
Knowing all these would help you improve on yourself and put things in place to help and guide you. It will also help you deal or resolve things you need to resolve with the goal of becoming a better person.
Being self-aware makes you better at decision making. It makes you better at your jobs, and makes you a better communicator. Self-awareness is important for emotional intelligence and helps you manage emotions better.
Self-awareness is important for all types of relationships, whether it is relationship with yourself, a romantic partner, your family and even professional relationships.
Some people are more self-aware than the other, perhaps they are more inclined to being that way. Not to worry though, self-awareness can be learned.
Types of Self-awareness
Before I delve more into self-awareness, it’s important to note the two main types of self-awareness; internal self-awareness and external self-awareness.
Internal Self-awareness – this is simply being aware of everything that goes on inside you which includes your thoughts, emotions, feelings, reactions, strengths, weaknesses and the likes. It is also how clearly you see your values, passions, and aspirations, and how well those standards fit with your environment and your reactions.
External Self-awareness – this is the ability to clearly see how people view you. How do people perceive you? How do you come off to people?
Consider this; Joan is the manager of the sales department in a company. Recently she’s been going through a difficult time with her husband at home and it has greatly affected how she relates with her colleagues at work.
She has become a bit cold to them and a little withdrawn. She’s also easily irritated by her subordinates. This has made both her colleagues and her subordinates at work see her as a bitter person and someone that doesn’t have empathy for the people under her.
One day, Joan decided to understand why she had changed and become so bitter. So she asks herself questions like ‘what changed?’ ‘How did it happen?’. After a lot of retrospection and introspection, she realized that the difficult situation with her husband was what caused it.
Joan and her husband were finding it difficult to make their marriage work and it was weighing greatly on her and so, she would extend all her frustration to the people at work. Knowing this, Joan became conscious of how she related with her colleagues at work. She told herself that they didn’t have to be on the other end of her frustration and it wasn’t fair to them also. So she made a conscious effort to do better.
Internal self-awareness is how Joan got to the root of her behaviour at work. She asked questions and was honest with herself. She was aware that she was in a bad state and she didn’t excuse her bad behavior instead she got better.
External self-awareness is how Joan noticed how the people at work perceived her and she knew she had to do something about it.
How to become Self-aware
Not that I can tell you how exactly to be self-aware but I can point you to things you can do to get there. Remember, it’s not exactly a one day thing and gradually, one can really be aware of all that goes on around them.
Here are some things to do that are quite helpful.
1. Be mindful of things around you and make time to reflect on everything you do, your behavior, your values, feelings and reactions. Go over your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to see where you met your standards, where you failed them, and where you could improve. You can do so at the end of each day and it could be by writing or just thinking about it.
2. Make it a habit to keep a journal. The journal doesn’t really have to be a book, it could be a note app on your phone or a voice recorder, and basically anything that documents what happens to you. The entries could also be in the form of a story, a poem or just how it happened to you. What journaling does is that it helps you identify, clarify, and accept your thoughts and feelings. It helps you discover what you want, what you value, and what works for you. It can also help you find out what you don’t want, what is not important to you, and what doesn’t work for you.
3. You can always ask people what they think of you about certain things. If you’re doing this, ask someone that cares for you and can be honest with you. Sometimes we don’t know how people perceive us. We think we are doing well when we really are not and so it’s important to get feedback. Also carefully consider what they say and think about it when you journal or reflect.
4. While reflecting or journaling, ask questions, try to find out more about why you are the way you are; what annoys you, why does it annoy you, what made you react the way you did, how something made you feel and so on.
There is a research that says that asking the question ‘why’ isn’t effective because it doesn’t necessarily answer the question and can lead to inaccurate and negative answer whereas asking the question ‘what’ provides a better answer and view.
For instance, if the manager of a company came into the building angry and people asks ‘why was the manager so cranky?’ ‘Why’ might answer that it’s due to her being a bad manager. However, ‘what’ can say it could be because of her low blood sugar and it definitely affected her mood.
Well I don’t entirely agree with that because if you ask the ‘why’ question, you can still come up with that answer. For instance, if you think, ‘why was she so angry today?’ It could be due to troubles at home or she had an argument with someone or she’s just hungry.
I’m not condemning the question ‘What’, I think it’s important also. For example, when you’re in a party having a good time and all of a sudden you feel anxious, you could ask what changed, what happened that made you feel this way suddenly and thinking about it, you could realize it’s because someone that makes you uncomfortable just walked into the room.
Inasmuch as I understand that the question ‘What’ could be a better way to approach understanding sometimes, I believe we should ask all the questions; why, what and how?
I believe everyone needs to be self-aware to understand themselves better and to become better. Don’t be scared of it (because it is scary), instead embrace it.
It’s important for Christians to be self-aware also and what’s remarkable is the Holy Spirit that we have in us.
To be honest, my journey of being self-aware was strongly as a result of the Holy Spirit. He began to do a lot of work in me and He made me see some things in me like my weaknesses, where I needed work, things I needed to deal with and it was hard. It is still hard because when you think you're doing well somewhere, He points you to another thing that needs work. Self-awareness involves a lot of acceptance and brutal honesty and sometimes I don’t like confronting and admitting difficult situations, emotions, behaviours and thoughts.
The encouraging thing is that God’s hands are there to hold and guide me and I must admit that I know myself more and I am better than before. I’ve grown and I’m still growing.
The Holy Spirit is indeed a helper and can help you also. As you spend time with yourself, spend time with God also.
Self-awareness is very important in living a fulfilled and progressive life. Everyone wants to be better right? A great step is to be self-aware about your strengths and weaknesses which will help you know how to manage them or even manage yourself.
It’s important to note that being self-aware doesn’t necessarily mean you have it all figured out. It simply means that you are able to look at yourself inwardly and outwardly to know what your problem is and this can help you gain clarity and direction.