Although there are plenty of things we can work on to better ourselves and live happier lives, I think self-awareness is above all the most important. From succeeding in your career to building healthy relationships to feeling more positive emotions everyday — pretty much everything relies on a strong sense of self. But being truly & completely aware of your feelings, your thoughts, how others perceive you is not an easy task. It takes effort and practice to really strengthen your ability to see and understand yourself clearly. Here’s how you can work on your own self-awareness:
1. Check in with 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 eliciting in response to your feelings in that specific moment. Personally, I try to do this anytime I start to feel tense or stressed. If I notice I’m not in a good mood (i.e. getting frustrated with my dog or feeling 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 in with yourself and recognizing your current state in the moment.
2. Ignore any judgements
As you check in with yourself, recognize and be aware of your state of mind without adding any unnecessary judgements. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, 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 emotions 100% of 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 — simply list out what you’re feeling and take note.
3. Look at yourself from an outsider’s perspective
Another way to strengthen your ability to be self-aware 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 discover
I think what’s really important to emphasize about self-awareness is that it’s not about immediately perfecting your emotions as soon as you recognize them. It’s just about being able to truly see and understand yourself clearly. Rather than trying to change your thoughts and emotions in the moment, let yourself feel what you’re feeling. Accepting that this is what you’re feeling can relieve the pressure you may feel 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-judgmental way.
5. Practice, repeat, practice, repeat
Just like changing a behavior, changing a thought process takes practice. Your brain needs to learn how to recognize 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 those judgements creeping up. 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.
What do you do to become more self-aware?