The way we interact with each other is directly linked to how aware we are of our own feelings and emotions. Think about it. If you don’t realize or take the time to think about how angry you are when someone does something you didn’t like, you will automatically respond by either shouting at them or making a statement that will probably make them feel bad. Now, was your intention to make them feel bad? Even if you answered yes to that question, tell me, what would that solve? It wouldn’t change what the person did. It wouldn’t help the person know what to do the next time, or how to fix it. So what then would be the point?
What does being self-aware do?
Self-awareness provides us with some level of control in every situation. We do not have control over what other people do, but we do have control over our emotions and our responses. By being more self-aware, we are mindful of how we are feeling. We are more cognizant of how our words and actions affect the people around us, which also ties into our emotional intelligence. Once we are aware of our own feelings, and in tune with how those around us might be feeling, we will be able to:
1) Communicate more effectively
2) Express our feelings better
3) Be in a better mood
4) Foster better relationships
5) Think clearly
6) Solve problems more effectively
How can we work on becoming more self-aware?
Becoming more self-aware is a gradual process that takes a bit of time and practice. Even though it does take a little time, depending on how frequently you practice, you will start becoming more self-aware the instant you start practicing the following techniques:
1) Do grounded breathing exercises or meditate
Grounded breathing and meditation are two great exercises to start your journey to becoming more self-aware. These practices help you to become more cognizant of your thoughts, and any tension you might be experiencing in different parts of your body. Try one, or both of these exercises at least twice a week to start, and slowly try doing them once a day. By doing one or both of these activities you may realize:
- how many thoughts run through your mind
- how easy or hard it is for you to relax or clear your mind
- how tense you are in different parts of your body
2) Identify your feelings
When we are are in different situations, or have different experiences, they all cause us to feel differently. To work towards becoming more self-aware, it’s important to stop and take the time to recognize and acknowledge the way you feel. Ask yourself at that moment, “How am I feeling right now?”
3) Identify your negative thoughts
A key part of becoming more self-aware is learning how to identify your negative thoughts when you are having them. When you ask yourself how you are feeling, and your answer ends up being scared, sad, worried, or upset, consider the thoughts you might be having at that time as well. Are you catastrophizing about the worst possible outcomes of your situation? Are you sad or upset because you believe the worst in someone else? Are you upset because you’re giving someone else power over your emotions?
Try to notice when you have your negative thoughts and try to understand where they might be coming from.
4) Ask for feedback/ positive criticism
A great way to become more aware of your actions or how others perceive what you have said is to get feedback from them. Feedback or positive criticism helps you to be more aware of how others are receiving what you are saying, and will help you learn how to communicate or express yourself a bit better. It may also help you become a better listener, which is a key quality of being a great communicator and being more self-aware.
5) Pay attention to other people’s reactions
If you want to know if someone understands what you just said, or if someone liked the gift you gave them, pay attention to their verbal and non-verbal responses. Do they look happy, excited, or shocked? Are they saying thank you but have a frown on their face? The next time you have a conversation with someone, a work meeting, or you participate or present at a workshop, pay attention to the reactions or the person/ people in the room. What are they saying?
6) Reflect on your day
How many times have you just woken up, and your day consists of work, food, home, sleep, repeat? Your day is so busy or so routine, that you don’t take the time to think about how your day went. You don’t take the time to consider if you’re happy with the job you have or content with the life you are living. Take at least 15 minutes at the end of the day, to reflect on how you are feeling. Reflect on how the day went- what you didn’t like and what you did like, or what you accomplished or didn’t get to do. You can sit and write it down or think about it in a quiet space.
Self-awareness is the ability for us to observe and be more mindful of ourselves and the world around us. Our thoughts and feelings act as signals to let us know how a situation, event, or person makes us feel. Some of us even have patterns of responding to different situations that we would otherwise not notice if we are not self-aware. Once we develop our self-awareness we will be able to respond purposefully and thoughtfully. Thus giving rise to more effective communication in all of our relationships moving forward. Even our relationship with ourselves will greatly improve with a little bit of self-awareness!