The first question that may cross your mind whenever talking about self-awareness is: what does it mean to know oneself? Why we need to know ourselves? Where does it come from? What is the utility of self-awareness? However, you may also think that ‘I already know myself’ or simply wondering the importance of self-awareness in the process of self-improvement.
Within the scope of any new project, or a revamp of an old one, the first step you normally start with is a complete understanding of the existing situation. This assessment enables you to understand where you are in order to know where you would like to go. This process is identical when working on your own self-improvement as you also need to identify your needs and desires, strengths and weaknesses, and to know more about your emotions and the reason behind your behavior.
Self awareness is a comprehensive self-assessment of your potential, skills, and competencies. It is the ability to know what you are doing to understand your moods and emotions; and how they impact your life. With self-awareness, you identify your inner motivations, drivers, and the reasons behind your actions. Self-awareness will also allow you to learn about the things you don’t like in your life so that you can do the necessary improvements to live happier. To me, the main aim of self-awareness is to create a meaningful life so that you can live in harmony with who you are really and what matters most to you.
Self-awareness is the core step to tap into both emotional intelligence and leadership. It is one of the keys of personal growth and success. It provides you with more authenticity, motivation, and confidence. It is a great skill that you can develop when the right tools are combined with consistent practice. It gives you power and comfort. People who are more self-aware are more creative, better communicator, and perform better at work.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
Ask yourself these questions: What are you good at? What are you passionate about? Do you have any particular gifts or talents? What qualities do you want to strengthen, which weaknesses do you want to eliminate? What do you think of yourself? What kind of person you want to be? What are your values and beliefs (limiting beliefs)? What emotions do you feel most of the time? What make you feel bad? What is your greatest fear? What is your most marked characteristic? What are your top five priorities/goals?
What is your favorite journey? What is your greatest regret? When and where were you happiest? If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? What do you consider your greatest achievement? What is your favorite occupation? How do you want to improve? How can you care for yourself better? What do you want to achieve this year? How can you be healthier, what activities you need to do? How will you add value to other people’s lives? What strengths you have that can help others.
There is no right or wrong answers as it is about you, who you are, your goals, and dreams. Ralph Ellison said, “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” It is true to me as knowing ourselves is the best freedom we ever have. It makes us detached from what others expect from us as we start caring more about our own expectations and dreams.
When we talk about self-awareness, we are often referring to the mind. Let’s dig a little further to understand the role of the parts of the brain and their impact on our thoughts, and emotions. There are 3 parts to consider:
- The conscious part: called the neocortex or the rational brain. Its main function is reasoning, language, and logic. This part is guided by the values and beliefs. It uses logic before reacting. Only 5% of this part takes decisions; the other 95% of our decision making is handled by the lower parts of the brain.
- subconscious part: called the limbic system or the emotional brain, which represents the second level of our awareness. It is the area of emotions, feelings, and memories. It is responsible for judgment as it decides if things are perceived good or bad. It is irrational, reacts without analyzing situations, and dominated by its needs and instincts.
- The unconscious part: basal ganglia, which is at the root of the brain. This is our instinctual center, usually can’t access to it.
What is the relationship of the three parts of the brain with self-awareness? To build self-awareness, we must become conscious of these three parts and attempt to strengthen our connection to all of them. Many research proved that most cases fail to reach a complete self-awareness because they target only the neocortex or the rational pat (thoughts, beliefs, biases) as the real drivers of our motivations or emotions come often from the other parts. It is for this reason, we need to enhance our understanding in regards to our emotions and instincts or simply the parts below our consciousness. Integrating the various regions of the brain that control our feelings and instincts will be a substantial help in increasing our self-awareness. Now, you may be wondering how you can raise self-awareness exploring all parts of the brain.
There are several aspects to consider:
Mindfulness: Conscious Meditation
Mindfulness is a form of meditation, which can teach you more about observation.
“Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness is utilized to develop self-knowledge and wisdom.” – Wikipedia.
Developing mindfulness is the key to getting into self-awareness. It can also elevate your mood, enhance your focus and attention. Many organizations introduced mindfulness into their daily practices to reduce stress and improve people’s well-being at the workplace.
Control of Self-Talk
People with lack of self-awareness will often listen to their automatic negative thoughts (Ants), which can hinder them from achieving what they want. Others with more self-awareness will be able to control these ants and even replace them by positive ones.
You can think about writing what you hear from your self-talk and try to take notes. This way, you will be creating a record of the elements that may limiting your potential. It can enlighten you as you will be able to identify what your self-talk really sounds like.
We are so busy doing what we need to do on a daily basis that we rarely stop or take time each evening to reflect on our behavior for the day. What can you learn from observing your behavior today? What are the things you may have to review and improve? How can you make your days better? What are the behaviors that you need to replace?
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Many people will have to think twice and more to identify their strengths and weakness. Identifying them makes you aware of the strengths you need to focus on and the weaknesses you need to handle or improve.
Writing them down on a bloc note doesn’t have the same impact as holding them in your mind. What are your strengths? What are you good at? To identify your weaknesses, ask yourself which tasks you keep avoiding. Is there anything people keep telling you that you need to enhance? Try to go back to your past experiences or failures? Is there any common pattern?
Take Psychometric Tests.
There are a set of Psychometric tests can help you identify or measure your skills, or personality type. I tried many of them. They can help you get more self-awareness but they should not be taken for granted as they may not be accurate in some cases. You can try the classic Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which may help you determine the kind of personality you have; if you extroverted or introverted, if you are judging or perceiving.
Ask for Feedback.
You can ask only people you trust for feedback on your personality. You can ask a trusted friend for a member of your family for an objective feedback both positive and negative so that you can work on them. Getting feedback from others can be very helpful as long as it is taken in a constructive way.
You cannot attain emotional intelligence and leadership if you still struggle with self-awareness. You cannot assess the work and competencies of others if you are unable to make your own self-assessment. Awareness is about purpose and clear goals. When you are given a sense of purpose, then everything around you will have a sense and no one will be able to stop you.