Imagine if you could look in the mirror and see the real you. This would be enlightening. Imagine seeing yourself as others see you. What would you think. This is called self awareness.
What is Self awareness
The definition of self awareness is deliberate conscious introspection. We look into ourselves to get to know ourselves in character and feelings. Once we are self aware, and have practiced being more aware, it becomes a natural habit. Then there is less need to make deliberate conscious introspection.
What do we want to become aware of
The areas of ourselves that we would like to become more familiar with are:
Our emotions, desires, abilities, personality, values, habits, needs, physical, spiritual, social, and intellectual self.
It's about reconnecting with our true self. Often we have disconnected with parts of ourselves. This can mean we have disowned parts of ourselves.
When we don't know who are are then how will we know what we want.
(Not what the self we have created wants but what we truly want.) Once we know what we want and the direction we want to go then it becomes easier and more comfortable to take steps towards it.
What is the advantage of being Self Aware
As we become more self aware we will find it empowering. Self awareness is the pre cursor to self management. Self management of ourselves over, for example our emotions. As we begin to feel this self management we will gain confidence. We can use self awareness to make improvements and to better predict our reactions. The advantage of increased self awareness is not only the impact it has on us but also our relationships. We can use our extra knowledge and improvements to build on these relationships. We may attach self worth to external factors - e.g. our jobs or what our friends and family think of us. As we increase self awareness we can begin to see and accept ourselves. As we reach acceptance our self worth can become internalised. This means that we are no longer looking outside of ourselves for validation - it comes from within. So we are in control. In short, self awareness brings increased certainty and confidence.
We act more like our true selves when we are comfortable. so the more comfortable we become with ourselves the more we can be our true self.
How do we become more Self Aware
There are areas of ourselves that we feel very familiar with. It may be that others see us differently. It can be all about perspective. The Johari Window explains well - there are open aspects and hidden aspects of ourselves. There are four quadrants
1. Open and Free Area - areas we know ourselves and also others know and see of us.
2. Blind Area - areas of ourselves that we don't know but others see
3. Hidden Area - What we know of ourselves but don't show to others
4. The Unknown area - we have yet to discover areas of ourselves and others don't see it either.
The aim is to expand our free area. We can do this by asking people - getting feedback. We ideally want an unbiased view from an independent person - eg a coach. As we are different in different circumstances and moods it is advantageous to get different views and perspectives.
We need to be aware that not all feedback is valid. Feedback from one person may be just their opinion and may be based on biases and experiences from them alone. However feedback from three or more people is likely to be more reliable.
Sometimes we take on the feedback we receive and sometimes we assess it and decide not to. Traumatic feedback or feedback in a traumatic time can often lead us to holding on to the feedback. We need to be careful to assess this feedback for validity still when we are calm.
Steps to more rounded view of ourselves:
Have experiences outside of comfort zone. This allows us to see more of ourselves.
Be curious. When we ask ourselves questions and check in with ourselves, we can analyse our reactions and feelings in a curious way. We no longer need to suppress aspects or traits. Do this consciously until it becomes natural reflection. What have we disowned and repressed (subconsciously saying part of us is bad.) It may be a part that we have long since locked away because we felt that we didn't like that part of us.
Identify triggers. When things trigger us we can become curious about what is behind that. Label our feelings. When we learn not to judge our feelings we can use them to find out what is going on for us. We can identify our strengths and weaknesses. Make decisions when in stable mood - too often we make judgement and analysis in the moment. Look back at a situation or behaviour later to get a balanced view.
Get different perspectives and watch others behaviours . Put yourself in others shoes. Give feedback and review yourself (especially when you have been in a stressful situation. Notice that when we have feedback during a stressful situation we can take it on board as fact more than when we are in a stable mood and just curious about it.
In summary when we become more self aware we become more comfortable and confident with ourselves. We create this by extending our experiences, being curious about ourselves and getting other perspectives.