5 Best Practices for Self Awareness
February 2021 we are looking at different aspects of self-awareness. It is very possible that it conjures up images of someone doing yoga on a beach or thoughts of 'getting in touch with your feelings'. Moreover, someone reading this might consider self-awareness to be a new-age trend, but Kintsu Consulting believes that there is great utility in knowing more about yourself as it enhances performance, cognitive processing, and interpersonal relations.
I recently saw a graphic that stated 'self-awareness is the new self-care' and that could also lead people to think about burning incense and going for spa dates, but there is more to it than that. This article outlines the concept of self-awareness in a general sense and narrows in on some practices to adopt that help you further understand and increase your self-awareness.
My personal working definition of self-awareness is knowing who you are, how you are feeling, and how that affects your thoughts and behavior. It is your ability to know how you are and what you are most likely to do or feel in any given situation. Being self-aware means you have solid knowledge about your strengths, weaknesses (also known as areas for improvement), emotional triggers, motivators, and more.
Having self-awareness gives you the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions either align with your core values or not. A highly self-aware individual can objectively evaluate themselves, manage their emotions, align their values and behavior, and understand correctly how that might across to others. The characteristics displayed by a person with a healthy sense of self-awareness include:
Having healthy boundaries
Awareness of emotional triggers
When you read that list, I'm sure you say to yourself, 'Well, sure, I'm a pretty open-minded individual and on a good day, I can push myself to accomplish a lot.' To you, I would say well done, you're headed in the right direction! And maybe, you are doing a good job of keeping on top of your emotions, but being self-aware involves more than that. Your level of self-awareness really hinges on how deeply you can look at yourself, know and accept everything you are. Perhaps it won't look like doing a complete overhaul on your concept of self, but successfully maintaining good mental health and nutrition, increasing your self-control and your ability to see the good or the beauty in the mundane. This is why we have put together five relatively simple things anyone can do to increase their sense of self-awareness.
5 Best Practices for Self-Awareness
Now before you think that this is a promotional piece for new-age medicine after all, hear me out. To meditate is simply to train your attention and your awareness in order to achieve mental clarity, calm, and stability. There are many forms of meditation and there are even levels to the process but we won't be going into it. We will, however, highlight the benefits of becoming more mindful. Mindfulness in itself is a form of meditation; a practice that helps you pay attention to an object, a feeling, or even a place in order to center your thoughts and put everything into perspective.
When you limit the number of things you are focusing on, you are able to see more (or differently) about what remains. So turning off the tv, going to a quiet place, putting your phone on airplane mode regularly, and having some time to yourself to think about you, your choices, feelings, or what you choose to pay attention to can lead to greater awareness. Whether you choose to sit in silence or use an audio aid (a pre-recorded set of prompts to guide you), meditation opens up your mind to things in a different way and it is not specifically a spiritual or religious exercise at all. Business coaches train their clients to use mindfulness and other techniques as well. Anthony Tjan, the CEO of Cue Ball asks himself questions such as
What am I trying to achieve?
What am I doing that is working?
What am I doing that is slowing me down?
What can I do to change?
Sports therapists or psychologists also help their athletes meditate using imagery which focuses on creating a mental picture to simulate successful performance. If the practice of meditation seems too far-fetched, maybe you can try journaling or try spending some time in deliberate introspection.
Write Down & Plan Priority Activities
When you wake up in the morning, it is vital that you set a path for yourself that will lead you to the things that will make you feel fulfilled and bring about the most desired results. When we hosted the 4 Keys to Success and our two masterclasses in January we talked about the importance of living your daily life in line with your core values. We also talked about how setting goals in line with those values is a great way to get the most out of every day. Having a plan you can refer to and evaluate makes you more aware of how you are doing and what you need to be thinking about. Whenever you succeed, how you feel is a crucial factor in helping you repeat the desirable behavior for further desirable results.
Prioritizing increases awareness as it builds up your capacity to gauge what is important to you and what needs your immediate attention. It also helps you realize what is of genuine importance to you as opposed to what you thought was important. Sometimes when you fail to meet deadlines or attend to certain tasks, it is because they really don't matter. When you find yourself slacking or reneging on commitments, take some time to rate their importance to you and see if you can't find the reason you continually self-sabotage.
Take A Test
By test, we mean psychometric test. Personality tests are known by several names, but they are a good way to get insight into the characteristics you possess and how your unique combination of measured traits might influence your decision-making, thought patterns, and emotional responses. Your self-awareness will increase as you process the results of the test and how you can better manage yourself with the new knowledge. DISC Analysis and Myer-Briggs are popular tests to take, but there has been a rise in other assessments such as the Enneagram assessment. Whatever one you decide to take, it's worth remembering that the object of the test is not to show you what's wrong or right with you but simply to increase awareness for greater development.
Ask Trusted Friends & Colleagues
There is a unique level of awareness we gain into ourselves by asking those who know us what they notice. It obviously wouldn't be wise to ask everyone who's ever met you, but you can select a small number of people who know you well— who you know have seen your true self or whom you are comfortable around— and ask them to give you honest feedback about how you come across to them. That is the only way you will know for sure because we can all hope to seem a certain way in our interactions with others, but without candid, constructive, and objective perspectives of others, we aren't certain.
If improving your performance is a matter of interest, it is a good idea to regularly seek the feedback of your peers or immediate superiors regarding the way you present yourself and deliver in the workspace. The best way to get this is by taking advantage of the formal systems or processes that your organization has in place, such as a quarterly review. If there are no facilities in place, you may consider setting up a meeting with an effective manager who has regular interaction with you and can give constructive and professional feedback about how they view your performance and how you interact with the rest of the team. Be sure to have a process in place so that the manager knows what kind of information you are looking for. That way you will get the most out of the meeting as they will be prepared to accommodate your needs.
Part of self-care is deciding how much someone can impose on you and how far you will let them go in their interactions with you. Knowing yourself will help you make these kinds of choices, but exploring these limitations can also do the same. Establish where you stand in terms of your values or even your capacity to perform and make a conscious effort to communicate these to anyone who you may think requires more from you than you can offer. Being able to recognize how you feel when asked to do something you are not happy with becomes an invaluable skill when you are trying to set healthy boundaries. Don't be afraid to put yourself first on occasions or to give yourself permission to say no when something does not serve your sense of self, your peace of mind, or your personal plans.
Don't Overdo It The journey to greater self-awareness is a never-ending one, but once you have adapted to applying the knowledge shared in this article and other techniques for getting to know yourself better, you can navigate life's spaces more conscientiously. There is, however, the risk that you might spend too much time worrying about what other people think about you and how your actions impact the next person or groups of people. What 'they' see in you or think about you is only a small component of being more aware. Too much self-consciousness can lead to chronic worry and conditions such as social anxiety disorder so we recommend that you do all of this within reason and not overextend yourself trying to please anyone else.
Ultimately, we all want to lead ourselves and others as effectively and efficiently as we can and the simple steps to developing self-awareness can increase the chance of that happening more consistently and successfully. Self-awareness helps you live in a way that is more in line with your core values and your most immediate goals, which is a sure formula for improving the quality of life. As you become more accepting of your own preferences and you pay closer attention to others without fear of diminishing your own value, you will see that your self-awareness is taking fine form and the journey is well worth the effort. Let us know in the comments what the journey to a higher level of self-awareness has been like for you.