Self awareness is a key element of personal development, I’d go as far as saying it’s the most important. It allows us to essentially monitor and see our behaviour, thoughts and emotions with more of an objective point of view.
To put it into context, have you ever said something on impulse then wonder why you’ve said it later? Having deeper self awareness can help with this! Instead of passively going through life and responding from past conditioning, you can act according to your true core values.
Our past experiences are forever shaping how we live our lives, the experiences that bring us joy and more importantly, those that feel uncomfortable
Cultivating self awareness has benefits for our mental health, relationships and job satisfaction. Any element of your life you want to change or have more clarity of.
What is self awareness?
I wanted to focus purely on internal self awareness for this post. Internal self awareness is the ability to reflect and have an objective view point of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It allows us to shift all of those things based on our beliefs, rather than past experiences.
What does it mean to gain more self awareness?
Self awareness is on a spectrum, some people are really good at it, for others (me included) it takes work. If you’ve been living passively and letting your unconscious thoughts and emotions guide your behaviour, it’s likely that you are not responding to situations based on your true core values. Self awareness brings clarity, it allows you to put the steps in place to help yourself.
How to deepen your self awareness
Luckily, if like me you’re in the camp of people where building self awareness takes work, there’s so many thing you can do to understand yourself and become more self aware.
Meditation is a big one. It gives you space to really see your thoughts for what they really are and feel a sense of detachment. It also helps brings a new perspective to what may have been stressful situations. When I started meditating I couldn’t believe how busy my mind was. It’s a time to silence your thoughts and truly be with yourself. I got started by using the Headspace app guided mediations, even doing a simple body scan meditation can help you relax and feel more balanced.
Therapy/ Life Coach
I know therapy isn’t accessible to everyone, so I don’t want to ramble on too much. However, I’ve found it to be really valuable in understanding myself more. Having 50 minutes a week to learn more about my current thoughts, feelings and behaviours is a huge part of self care for me. If you’ve been on the fence about therapy, I really can’t recommend it enough.
I’ve dedicated a full blog post to journaling for self awareness. It’s how I really learnt more about myself and what made me tick. I wrote a whole post and focused on it in depth because journaling is free, accessible to most people and can really have some positive impacts. It’s basically free therapy!
When journaling for self awareness, you can either follow a stream of consciousness practise where you simply write exactly what’s coming to you. Alternatively you can use prompts to help guide you through. Definitely read back what you’ve written, as this will enable you to have a sense of detachment from your thoughts and feelings, helping you realise that a lot of the time how we think is a build up of our unconscious and something we don’t actually have to pay attention to.
Spend more time alone
Being alone does not equal being lonely, or atleast it shouldn’t. Spending time alone can instantly reveal so much about ourselves. It was last year when I spent more time alone than ever, and honestly it made me realise how much work I had to do. It can feel uncomfortable to be alone when you’re used to company, but when you are happy on your own and enjoy your own company it’s empowering, and can teach us so much about ourselves and deepen self awareness.
Solitude can be the key to higher self awareness. Without this space to be present and understand who you are, it’s pretty difficult to figure things out without the voice and opinions of others.
Pay attention to what bothers you in others
Have you ever come across someone that for some reason you don’t like? You can’t pin point why, but they irritate you? Chances are, if there’s not real reason, it’s a projection. Projection is when you see a quality of yourself in someone else that you don’t like, and therefore you tend to dislike the other person. I’ve experienced this before. It’s not a nice feeling, but it has lead me to see which qualities I want to work on in myself.
To become more self aware, start to pay attention to those select few people who bother you but you’re not sure why. It might reveal a whole lot more in you than anything else.
Work on clarifying your values
I mentioned values early on in this post. I’m bringing them up again, because our values should be what drives us, and sometimes they can be forgotten. To increase our self awareness, a good way to do it can be through identifying your core values and what makes you tick. What is it you stand for and feel truly passionate about? Your values help to define who you are, so when you get clear on them, you start living intentionally, matching your core beliefs to your actions.
So, there it is, your guide to self awareness and becoming more self aware. Yes it’s likely to feel uncomfortable along the way as you learn more about yourself, but it’s how you can become the best, most joyful version of yourself!