8 Steps to Improving Your Self-Awareness
WHAT IS SELF-AWARENESS
Having high self-awareness helps you know who you are, be aware of what you do, and what you think. It is how we are able to clearly see who we are and the affects of who we are to others. Because full self-awareness comes from the interplay of these two different awarenesses: The awareness of yourself and the awareness of how others see you.
Self-awareness is living in a world of mirrors and through it all, still being able to know “yourself” amongst all of your reflections. Because in this world, these reflections are the thousand different perceptions you have of yourself. The thing with perception however is that it lives only inside of you, and because it does, it becomes so very easy for us to be able to change them. To be able to skew things so it is easier for us to live with our perceptions emotionally, physically, and mentally.
However that doesn’t make it the truth of ourselves that lives in the outer world. There is oftentimes a disjunct, and self-awareness is being able to catch those reflections that have been skewed and aren’t truly reflections of ourselves and being able realign those planes together towards a more uniform truth.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is the practice of being present in whatever you do. Sometimes we have a hundred different thoughts that preoccupy our minds whenever we do any one task. Or perhaps we actually dull our senses and go through life as if we are more like robots following our everyday routines.
We need to stop doing this.
Instead, when you speak to someone, fully be there for them and listen with the intent to listen. To be there. To try to understand. To help.
Take a walk and be mindful and present during your walk. Absorb the beauty around you and take calming breaths. Enjoy the weather. I can’t even begin to elaborate on how self-changing simply taking a walk is to one’s lifestyle.
Mindfully work. Mindfully eat. Mindfully meditate. These are all excellent ways to start the process of being self-aware.
2. Start Asking Yourself the Right Questions
Asking “what” instead of “why” helps us see our experiences and situations in a more objective manner.
3. analyze yourself more objectively
When it comes to ourselves, it is so difficult to separate ourselves on an emotional level – But for us to become more self-aware, we must in-fact be able to do so.
Analyze your self-talk: I am sure you have moments when your thoughts take a more negative turn; When that happens, catch yourself. Then, mindfully start to direct those thoughts in a more safe, less emotionally-charged way.
4. Learn about your Personality Type
I do not believe that people can be completely categorized into “types”, but I do believe knowing one’s personality type is a good starting point for people to better understand themselves. Figuring out your personality traits can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses. It can help you become more self-accepting and self-observant. And extend that to others as well.
There are so many different personality tests out there, but my favorite is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test (Take it here – I find this version of the test best) because I find that it lays the best, most solid groundwork to understanding the basis of ourselves in a more logical way that is easier to understand. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test “categorizes” people into 16 different personality types depending on if you are:
Extroverted vs Introverted
Intuitive vs Sensing
Thinking vs Feeling
Perceiver vs Judger
For example, I first took the Myers-Briggs Test when I was in college and learned that I am an INFP (aka: the Idealist or Mediator). I became aware of strengths and weaknesses I hadn’t seriously addressed in myself:
INFP Strengths: INFPs are idealistic, caring, genuine, and seek harmony in our surroundings. We are open-minded – there is no right nor wrong – and we are truly accepting of others. We are creative individuals and are passionate about the things we hold dear to ourselves and our ideals.
INFP Weaknesses: INFP types are self-conscious and private individuals who are hard to get to know. Sometimes we can be too idealistic, and thus get disappointed and saddened when our ideals become compromised by a certain experience. We avoid conflict and oftentimes take to criticism negatively. It can be hard to see things realistically and we are easily misunderstood by others.
Knowing these strengths helped me focus more on the positive parts of myself that I needed to stop ignoring. Alternatively, knowing my own weaknesses helped me – first of all – realize that I wasn’t alone in having those weaknesses… that there was a whole community of people who were going through the same difficulties as I was. Plus, it gave me a starting point to focus on the parts of myself I needed to improve on.
5. Address your Weaknesses
I think many of us want to start improving our self-awareness for the reason of improving upon our weaknesses.
I am one to believe that weaknesses have the strongest ability to change us as people – Because the moment we realize our weaknesses is the moment we start doing something about it. Our weaknesses become the start to our greatest transformations, and that transformation doesn’t happen unless we incorporate self-awareness in ourselves.
6. Start Journaling
Keeping a journal is a great way of physically seeing the trail of your thoughts and feelings.
What I often did during my own practices of improving my own self-awareness was a sort of brain and heart dump into a journal (known as Stream of Consciousness writing – Read my blog post on it here). Afterwards, I would write a second entry analyzing the last entry in a more analytical and objective manner.
Doing this is going to train your mind to gradually adopt that thought process… eventually to the point where you won’t need paper and pencil. You will be able to do it like second nature.
7. Ask for and Listen to the feedback of Others
Another way of gaining feedback from others isn’t from straight-out asking: Instead read the signs. Pay attention to the relationships around you. There are people who can give you feedback honestly, but there will still be others who can’t… at least not so easily. Make sure to reach out to those who can’t and start opening a stream of trust and communication.
Getting feedback from others and developing your self-awareness of how you affect others is the cornerstone of how you develop empathy. It is a very important part of improving self-awareness that oftentimes gets overlooked.
8. Take Action!
It’s one thing to be aware of what we do and even what we think; However, it takes a lot more energy, motivation, and even courage to take the step forward to improving yourself.
Take actionable steps:
The more little steps you take to changing yourself, the more easier it will be to reinforce those larger changes you are hoping for.