Why Self-Awareness is an Essential Tool for Personal Growth
How well do you know yourself? It might seem like an odd question, but each one of us has a narrative about who we are and how we appear to other people. Think about your personal narrative for a moment. Can you say that this appraisal of yourself is true? The ability to be truthful and objective about who we are, is an essential life skill. No matter what goals you’ve set for yourself, self-awareness is the starting point. If you don’t have an honest perception of where you are, then you’ll have a much harder time making appreciable change and progress in all aspects of your life. Journal on this, who do I see staring back at me?
What is Self-Awareness?
Simply put, self-awareness is the ability to know yourself, deeply. It’s about taking inventory of the things that make you who you are. It’s your personality, values, passions, and emotional triggers. It’s how you respond to conflict, recover from setbacks, and react to the events in your life. Do you have the capacity to turn inward and know how you’re feeling at any given moment? Can you honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses? Or are you looking at yourself from the eyes of judgement and despair?
Self-awareness isn’t about being preoccupied with yourself or being self-absorbed. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s about paying attention. Are you able to examine your actions and consider the impact you have on others? Are you someone who can easily put yourself in someone else’s shoes or realize that people have different needs and experiences than you do? Evaluating our perceptions and point of view in any given situation is a key component of self-awareness.
What are the Benefits of Self-Awareness?
Being aware of yourself and your motivations has several advantages:
- Successful relationships at work and in your personal life.
- Improved decision making.
- Being responsive vs. reactive to situations in your life.
- Elimination of self-sabotaging behaviors that are getting in the way of your growth and success.
- Taking ownership of your actions.
- The ability to learn from your mistakes and not blame others.
- Increased self-confidence and no more need to rely on the approval of others.
Here are five techniques to get you started on a path to developing better self-awareness.
- Keep a journal: Journaling is a great way to see exactly what’s taking up space in your consciousness. Your journal is the perfect place to process what you’re experiencing. When you read through past entries, what are the prevalent thoughts and feelings? Are there any patterns of behavior in your relationships? What subjects do you dedicate the most time writing about?
- Meditate: Meditation brings us into the present moment. We focus on our breath and notice our thoughts and feelings. Developing a clearer understanding of our thoughts and emotions allows us to develop self-awareness. Mindfulness meditation in particular is all about cultivating the ability to be present and pay attention to whatever is happening for you in the here and now. If you have a tendency to project into the future or worry about past mistakes, then this is a great technique to try.
- Ask a friend: Ask a close friend or family member to describe you, truthfully, without hurt feelings. You’ll be surprised at how insightful their answers are.
- Ask for feedback at work: Don’t wait for your annual performance review. Check in periodically with your supervisors and co-workers for constructive feedback. It will keep you on track and your willingness to improve and adjust your approach will benefit your career.
We are all a work-in-progress. There are real benefits to looking deeply within ourselves and being in touch with who we truly are. Be willing to commit to practicing self-awareness techniques and make it a part of your daily routine. And don’t worry, we all have room for improvement—self-awareness isn’t a destination, but a life-long endeavor.
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