Self-Awareness, Pt. 3
INCREASING YOUR SELF–AWARENESS
Knowing yourself completely is a long and onerous task. It takes a lifetime of learning but considering you're the one thing that's stuck with you your entire life, you might as well try and get comfortable with it.
Know that you can't solve every problem overnight, but you can definitely make some headway each day. Like most good things, we'll suck in the beginning, but stick to it – the rewards are worth it.
As the man Roosevelt once said “Men and women are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
Until you understand your emotions, you have no power to control them.
Here are a few ways of doing increasing self-awareness:
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR EMOTIONS
The first step for practicing self-awareness is gaining a greater awareness of your emotions.
Most of us have been taught to shut our feelings out of any decision-making process and to rely solely on our rational thoughts. We place rationality above any kind of emotional understanding. Not only has science proven that humans emotionally prime every logical decision, not taking emotions into the equation puts our decision-making process out of balance. Our feelings are the internal advocate for our own ideals – whether we are aware of them or not. To make effective decisions, we need both rational thought and our feelings. We need to pay attention to our gut as much as our brain.
Bring greater awareness to your feelings by including them in your decisions. Listen to your gut and explore why your feelings might object to the decision of one of your rational thoughts.
Ask yourself, “Where is that feeling coming from and what does it mean?” Make a habit of recognizing your feelings. It's not easy at first, but you'll get the hang of it.
Once you can notice and understand your emotions, you give yourself the power to control them.
Self-awareness of emotion will help you to understand what you're feeling, stop you from reacting impulsively to them, and give you the opportunity to choose your response to any situation – and that’s the ultimate freedom.
2. TALK TO YOURSELF (AND ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS).
Okay, this sounds a little insane, even at 4:30AM, but it's a proven way to get to know yourself better.
Throughout the day, ask yourself questions and answer them as if you were explaining the answer to someone on the outside. Simple things like "what am I feeling right now?" and "why am I feeling it?" are a good place to start.
These questions, reflected back on yourself, will help complete the picture of who you are, how you feel and act, and what matters to you.
3. JOURNAL OFTEN.
Our memory colours the past pretty deeply. To get a more accurate gauge of yourself, journal often. Make a habit of tracking what you're feeling and take stabs at why you might be feeling that way. Doing this will help make you much more aware of what you're doing, how you’re feeling, what problems might be on the horizon, and what matters to you.
Spend time each day/week writing down the little things and soon you'll start to notice larger trends that will give you a better understanding of yourself and allow you to correct.
4. LOOK AT YOURSELF OBJECTIVELY.
This is one of the hardest parts of self-awareness. Humans' are storytelling creatures and we tell no better stories than the ones we tell ourselves.
The best way to look at yourself objectively – writing down what you're feeling in the moment and why you're feeling it. Then, when it's all said and done, go back and read over your actions from an outside perspective with data.
You'll soon begin to realize some of the many stories you tell yourself, which is the first step to correcting or accepting them.
Instead of spending your time thinking about what you should improve about yourself, think about what your friends, parents or co-workers might think you should improve about yourself. No, I'm not saying you go chase everyone else's expectations, but thinking in that light momentarily will let you look at this from someone else's perspective and gain a little extra insight into yourself.
Even better, find a trustworthy friend that you can talk to and get some honest feedback from. Yes, self-awareness requires some level of vulnerability.
5. CREATE YOUR OWN MANIFESTO.
For many of us, the main purpose of self-awareness is self-improvement. If that’s the case, we got to have some goals we’re working towards. Creating a personal manifesto is a great way to figure out who you are, what you care about, and what you want.
Refer back to it often.
6. PERFORM A SELF-REVIEW.
Almost all of us set goals, intentions and ambitions, but few of us actually stick around low enough to see how they turn out.
No matter how overwhelming clear it is that this is a good thing, the majority of us won't stick to it. Why? Because it tough.
Setting up time to periodically review your thoughts, actions, and self-awareness long in advance can give you something to hold you accountable to down the road. This can include going through old journals, looking at key understandings and insights about yourself and spending sometime to track it against who you want to become.