Steps to Becoming Self-Aware
“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlighten.” – Lao Tzu
Although there are plenty of things we can work on to better ourselves and live happier lives, self-awareness is the most important. From your career, building healthy relationships to feeling more positive emotions everyday — pretty much everything relies on a strong sense of self. But being truly aware of your feelings, your thoughts, and how others perceive you is not an easy undertaken. It takes effort and practice to really strengthen your ability to see and understand yourself clearly. Here’s how we all can work on our own self-awareness:
1. Check yourself
Take a moment throughout each day to ask yourself what you are feeling, what thoughts are running through your mind, what behaviors you’ve been evoking in response to your feelings in that specific moment. Personally, I try to do this anytime I notice I’m not in a good mood (i.e. getting easily annoyed by others), I’ll pause and take a second to review what’s going on in my head. Try doing this a couple of times throughout each day and you’ll soon make it a habit of checking yourself before you wreck yourself.
2. No self-judgement
As you check in with yourself, recognize and be aware of your state of mind without self-judging. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, you don’t tell yourself that you “shouldn’t” feel that way or that these are “bad” feelings. They’re just feelings — they don’t have to be good or bad. They are what they are. It’s impossible to feel positive all the time so why shame yourself when you’re feeling otherwise? So as you take the time to recognize your emotions do your best to push any judgements or opinions to the side. Instead list out what you’re feeling and take note.
3. Put yourself in others shoes
Another way to gain better self-awareness is to look at yourself from the outside. Just as you check in with your emotions throughout the day, try to also put yourself in other people’s shoes. If you were in their position, how would you view you? What would you see? How would you interact with yourself? The more you can truly see from the perspective of those around you, the more self-aware you’ll become.
4. Accept what you find
The thing about being self-aware is that is not about immediately changing your emotions as soon as you recognize them. It’s about being able to clearly see and understand yourself. Instead of trying to change your thoughts and emotions in the moment, let yourself feel what you’re feeling. By accepting that this is how you are feeling you can relieve any pressure you may have on trying to change your current state of mind. The more you can accept yourself, the more you’ll be able to grow in a healthy, non-self judgmental way.
5. Change takes practice
Just like changing a behavior, changing a thought process takes practice. Your brain needs to learn how to process your emotions in the moment, how to push away those judgements, how to view yourself from the outside, and how to accept who you are. It takes time and effort, so don’t get frustrated if you forget to check in with yourself or if you feel self-judgement starting to creep in. Start with one step at a time and make the effort to incorporate them as often as you can. It’s a process and any effort should be seen as progress. Soon enough, being self-aware will become second nature.