Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Self-awareness is perhaps the most vital component of mental and emotional wellness. It is incredibly difficult to achieve any sustained level of life satisfaction if you don’t know anything about yourself. Most of the things that you do will seem pointless without a solid understanding of who you are. As odd as it sounds, very few people know themselves on a fundamental level. Most of what people know about themselves are what they’ve been told by others or what they believe other people think about them.
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is basically to know oneself. In other words, it’s to have a thorough understanding of your thoughts, feelings, as well as who you are in relation to the rest of the world. It’s having an accurate perception of oneself based on non-biased reflections.
How To Be Self Aware.
Much of our lives are lived in autopilot mode. We get stuck in routine, phony public personas, and other behaviors that we only do for acceptance by society. At times, autopilot mode is not bad. After all, on some level, we need to behave in accordance with societal norms for survival. You wouldn’t make it very far in life if you only did what you want, when you wanted to do it. The problem with being in autopilot mode is that we forget we’re in it for weeks, months, or years. Some people live their entire lives on autopilot.
Unintentionally living on autopilot is a prime example of low self-awareness. You’re not taking any leadership over your own life, everything you do is based on living up to society’s expectations. You have no understanding of your emotions. You’re a mere shell of yourself that has no ownership of the emotions that come to your mind. You just accept everything that comes to your mind without any real understanding of where those thoughts come from.
Without self-awareness, you have no idea of what you need to do to make yourself happy. You’re just existing for survival with no hope for happiness.
So if you notice that a low sense of self-awareness seems to dominate your life, here are 5 tips to increase your self-awareness that will improve your chances of living a more satisfying life.
Determine Your Personal Values
Without a clear understanding of what’s important to you, it’s difficult to know what goals to pursue in life. Values not only help with setting goals, but they will help you set clear boundaries with others, as well as guide you on prioritizing certain aspects of your life. Your values will add structure to your thoughts and behaviors because you will have a blueprint of what’s important to you rather than just going with the flow.
Values give you clear expectations for yourself and others. Your values help add consistency to your thoughts, which in turn will assist you in understanding your feelings and life choices.
Become aware of your distractions.
Most people’s daily routines are an endless compilation of distractions. Many of which are not even conscious behaviors but autopiloted habits that have no true bearing on our actual desires. Most distractions move us further from our goals and serve no purpose other than to curb boredom. There’s no problem with having distractions if they are moderated. However, most of the time we have no regulation of our distractions and wonder why the things that matter most seem so elusive.
Take inventory of the activities you do each day that don’t bring you closer to your goals. Examples of distractions are checking social media 100 times when you should be working or spending time with loved ones. Another example is small talk at the gym with strangers, extending your workout time several minutes.
Once you become aware of your distractions you take more ownership of your day rather than allowing your day to own you.
Learn To Understand What You Feel.
One of the main ways to cope with emotions is to learn where the heck they come from. Too often we just accept our feelings without questioning them at all. We tell ourselves all sorts of nonsense both good and bad. We do this for so long we start to believe what we tell ourselves with absolutely no evidence whatsoever to back it up. If some else were to tell us what something we at least ask how do they know that? Or why do they think that? But with our own thoughts, we rarely ask how did we arrive at such conclusions. We just accept them as the gospel.
In the court system, when someone is on trial, the prosecutor must prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt before rendering a person guilty. What this means is that the evidence against the defendant so clearly establishes their guilt that a reasonable person could not object.
We must learn to put our thoughts on trial. We should only believe thoughts based on evidence that is clear, non-biased, and reasonable before we accept them as the truth. If the thought can’t withstand the rigors of a mental trial, discard it.
Use a Journal
Journaling is perhaps the most efficient way of taking inventory of your thoughts. As odd as it may seem we forget most of what we think throughout the day. Look at this way: the average person has 12,000-60,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of thinking to keep track of. So naturally many of those thoughts well be lost in a matter of seconds.
Although a thought itself may come and go quickly, the emotional aftermath of it remains. For instance, you may find yourself emotionally triggered by relatively innocent comments from your spouse. The reason this happens is because our brain subconsciously connects those comments to a situation from our past that may be long forgotten.
When you journal you help yourself remember situations that you might have otherwise been forgotten. This will assist you in understanding why certain emotions pop up in your head through out the day. Think of your journal as emotional encyclopedia that helps you refer back to the origin of certain emotions. Thus, you’ll be in a better position to resolve future undesirable feelings because you will have a concrete understanding of where they come from.
Increase Your Tolerance for Negativity.
Quite often we run from our emotions. Allowing certain emotions to exist in our minds can be incredibly uncomfortable. We typically avoid unfavorable emotions because we have a low tolerance for the stress that comes with those emotions. Running from negative emotions doesn’t make them go away. They usually come back when you least expect.
The main problem with avoiding emotions is that it provides a false sense of resolution. In the moment it may feel good because that emotion is gone and you no longer have to worry about it. But in reality all you did was hit the emotional snooze button inviting the feelings to return another day.
Increase your tolerance for discomfort. Although it may sound counterintuitive, learn to welcome negative thoughts. This gives you time to process them and develop an appropriate course of action to resolve them as they come.
Self-awareness is the foundation of happiness. Its increadiy difficult to maintain happiness if you don’t have a concrete model of what happiness looks like. Therefore, you must be highly intentional about understanding and taking inventory of your thoughts. When you do so, you give your self a great chance at crafting a lifestyle that is consistent with your emotional needs, rather than being like water, which flows in any direction its pushed.
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