Self-Awareness 101: Introduction to Yourself

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude

The other day an acquaintance of mine exclaimed, “You know me! I don’t even know how to be mean!”

I shook my head, eyes wide with wonder at her profound misjudgement of her own personality. I believe that she probably doesn’t want to be mean, but I can also tell you that everyone is more than slightly afraid of her.

Afterward, I began to ponder the complexities of self-awareness, and how some people are really out of touch with their own inner-selves.

Most people will insist that they are self-aware without having any idea what it really means to be truly aware of one’s thoughts, emotions, behavior and personality. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “a lack of self-awareness will actually hold you back from developing self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills,” which are quite necessary in building the life you really want.  So, how do you know if you really are self-aware or if you’re in the dark?

- Frequent interactions with honest friends and family members.  Most people find it very difficult to tell others the truth about their short-comings, but if you specifically ask for feedback, you might be surprised at what you can learn about how you’re perceived.

- Watch and keep track of your actions and their results.  Just like the person above who insisted she has a hard time being ‘mean’, it’s quite possible for anyone to be totally unaware of how their behaviors are affecting their lives and those around them. “Watch” yourself by keeping a journal of your important actions and your prediction for the effect they will have on a certain situation.  Check back regularly to see how things really play out, and make changes to your behaviors accordingly.

- Take a self-awareness inventory.  How well do you really know what your strengths and weaknesses are?  Can you identify your habits, likes and dislikes? What motivates you? Do you have a set of internal values that you life your life by? Self-awareness begins by knowing all of the details that make up who you are as a person.

- Raise your EQ.  Your Emotional Intelligence, or your EQ, is your ability to identify and effectively manage all of the emotions that you experience every day.  A high EQ means that you recognize and understand the cause and effect nature of your emotions, as well as the emotions of others. People who are struggling with self-awareness are often unable to accurately understand the social cues that are given to them through other people’s emotions.

- Watch your words. In today’s society, strong opinions are encouraged, but if you lack self-awareness it may appear to others that you feel your opinion is the only one that matters.  Even with strong opinions, being self-aware means being mindful of every word that you think or speak in order to foster good relationships that are built on respect.

- Step outside yourself. In a twist of irony, one of the best ways to get in touch with your inner self is to step outside of it. Viewing yourself as you would a character in a movie, without judgement or harsh criticism, will allow you to get some perspective on your personality.

By taking a close look at your inner-self, you will be able to make the necessary changes to stop having emotional reactions, improve your understanding of others (and their perceptions of you), develop effective communication strategies in your relationships, and live a happier and more successful life.

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