While we like to think otherwise, the reality is that many of us are very self-unaware.
Borrowing from Tasha Eurich’s (Psychologist and Bestselling Author of Insight) research, “95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, but the real number is 12 to 15 percent, . . . that means, on a good day, about 80 percent of people are lying about themselves—to themselves.”
For a long time, I struggled with accepting that part of me that preferred to stay back home and read my Sandra Brown novels, rather than attend a party. I didn’t understand why I found large gatherings mentally and physically exhausting (I still do at times). I recall how I would hurry back home after such gatherings just so that I could reset and get myself back together.
I legit believed that something was wrong with me because I thought everyone else around me was bubblier and more outgoing than me. I usually felt like I was proud and unfriendly, so it became a prayer point.
But as I grew older and became more self-aware, I gradually understood that everyone had their unique personalities. And that no personality was better than the other. This awareness not only liberated me but also set me on an upward journey to explore and beautifully optimize my unique wiring.
Now that I have seen the light, I better understand the part of me that is reserved and prefers to draw energy either from being by myself or in the company of close friends. And now more than ever before, I celebrate the fact that I am a beautiful, smart, and confident Introvert.
Self-awareness is the recognition and conscious knowledge of who we are. Understanding our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, values, aspirations, strengths, shortcomings, etc., is key to living our best lives. And it plays a crucial role in how we relate with others and the world at large.
Self-awareness is the very first step towards any form of personal development and self-improvement. Because it informs how we seek to develop and improve ourselves.
It is the underlying determinant in our quest for happiness and fulfillment. I know this because happiness and fulfillment are not chance events, they are results of choices influenced by intentional living. And it takes self-awareness to live intentionally and make sound choices.
Take for instance, how aware we are of our best foods and what clothes fit our body type; and how this awareness consequently influences our choice of foods and sense of style. In the same manner, we can develop our self-awareness by understanding our emotions, our behaviors, and our unique wirings in a way that empowers us to live fulfilling lives.
Self-awareness can be broadly categorized into two: internal and external self-awareness.
Internal self-awareness relates to how we see ourselves in terms of our personalities, values, aspirations, and relationships with others and the world at large. While external self-awareness relates to our understanding of how others see us.
Here is why you should develop your self-awareness.
It improves your emotional intelligence. One of the ways I have been able to develop emotional intelligence is through self-awareness. My ability to understand and accept my humanity has helped me understand and accept the humanity of others.
It helps you define your emotions and deal with them more objectively. You can take charge of your emotions in more productive ways, and you can respond to situations more positively rather than react negatively. Then you become more responsive and less reactive.
It helps you define your own beliefs without being influenced by others. You won’t be easily swayed by popular opinion. Your understanding of your personality, values, and aspiration would influence your belief system and your lifestyle.
It improves your disposition towards prioritizing what brings you joy and fulfillment. You can identify the things that give you joy and a sense of fulfillment. And you can cultivate the discipline to incorporate them into your everyday life.
You can identify your strengths and shortcomings and develop a mental attitude to rise to your strength level more than you fall to the level of your shortcomings. You can leverage your strengths in a way that helps you improve your shortcomings.
You can make better interpersonal relationship choices with an objective understanding of your personality, your values, and your aspirations. You can define boundaries and respect boundaries because of the self-respect you’ve developed from understanding who you are.
Here is how to be more self-aware.
Get to know YOU better. Take personality and self-assessment tests to help you better understand your personality and unique wiring, and identify areas for improvement.
Address your thoughts and emotions more productively using the what tag in place of the why tag. When we ask why we tend to magnify our shortcomings and get weighed down with negative emotions. But when we ask the what question, we can positively introspect and obtain practical information that we can use productively. Rather than asking yourself, ‘why am I always getting this wrong’?, ask yourself, ‘what can I do better next time?’.
Create short check-in moments with yourself every day. Incorporate bits of reflection into your daily schedule. Reflect on the events of the day and the thoughts, emotions, and actions you responded with. This way, you learn how to manage your responses and situations better.
Practice mindfulness. Be present with yourself. Identify recurring emotions and frictions. They could be pointers to areas for self-improvement. Ask questions like ‘what is triggering this emotion?’, ‘what is enabling this friction?’. Identifying and addressing root causes help us solve problems and learn how not to repeat negative patterns.
Practice Journaling. Acknowledge and express your thoughts and feelings (in a non-judgmental way) in words. You can learn more about how to journal here.
Seek radical candor. Ask for unbiased feedback from your friends and colleagues. It might not be easy to do, but it pays off to know your blind spots and improve yourself.
Give yourself grace. Be patient with your process of becoming. Take one confident step at a time and allow yourself gradually and beautifully evolve into your best self.
Be confident and stay grounded in your Identity. Understand that you are One of One. Nobody can do you better than you.
In conclusion, self-awareness is a life-long continuum at different levels. And it is in our best interests that we develop our self-awareness and live intentionally, rather than live our lives on autopilot.
I hope you found this helpful, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. You can listen to my podcast episode on Developing Self-Awareness here.