More often than not, we go through our lives on autopilot, with little awareness that we are brushing our teeth, putting on your shoes, or sometimes even eating. While there is nothing really wrong with being unmindful of these little actions, the danger arises when we do not pay attention to our more significant behaviors, like how we talk to others, how we deal with problems, or what we do when we are sad or mad. When these mindless actions and behaviors occur too often, they can become habits, and if the habits are bad, they can affect our mental well-being, the way we relate to others, and how we go about our daily lives. .
Cultivating self-awareness means becoming conscious of these behaviors and habits so that we have more control over our emotional responses, especially the ones that might not be so healthy.
Self-awareness and mental health
When you develop self-awareness, you can begin to see where your thoughts and emotions guide you and take steps to change the unfavorable ones. When you are aware of your emotions you begin to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ), which is an important factor in achieving overall success.
Specific benefits of practicing self-awareness include:
- It can make us more proactive in improving our behavior, leading to positive self-development
- It allows us to see things from the perspective of others, practice self-control, work creatively and productively, and experience pride in ourselves and our work as well as general self-esteem
- It leads to better decision-making
- It can make us better at our jobs, better communicators in the workplace, and enhance our self-confidence and overall well-being
How to become more self-aware
Here are some things you can do to achieve greater self-awareness:
1. Look at yourself objectively.
Trying to see yourself as you really are can be a very difficult process, but once you do, you can learn how to accept yourself and find ways to improve.
- Write down what you think of yourself – Ask questions like what are you good at, and what do you need to improve? Be objective, do not compare yourself with others. What are the accomplishments or things about yourself that you are proud of?
- Go back to your childhood – What made you happy back then? Is it still the same now? If there are changes, what are the reasons?
- Talk to close friends and family members – Ask them how they feel about you.
When you are finished with the above-mentioned exercises, you already have gained a better understanding of yourself.
2. Practice mindfulness through meditation.
Meditation helps you manage your thoughts and feelings calmly, without judgement.
3. Perform daily self-reflection.
Set aside at least 15 minutes of each day to go through the day’s events, paying closer attention to what you felt and thought during those certain moments, both good and bad. Doing this will help you become more in tune with your thoughts and put yourself on a path to greater self-awareness.
Try to be a better listener for friends, family, and colleagues. This means being fully present and paying attention to their words, emotions, and even body language, without making judgments or drifting off. When you lend an ear to others, you’ll also become a better listener to your own inner voice.
5. Use fun tools for self-discovery.
Taking tests like the Myers-Briggs Type (MBTI) Indicator and the Predictive Index can help you understand what traits and characteristics you have so that you can understand yourself better.
6. Ask help from those close to you.
The thing with bad habits is sometimes you are not aware that you are doing it. So if there is a habit or behavior that you want to change, tell your frequent companions to call you out if you are doing it. For example, if you would like to stop cursing whenever you are feeling frustrated, ask your friend to discreetly let you know when it is happening, so you can stop.
Remember, increasing self-awareness does take time. It can take years and may require input from many people around you. Always try to respond to reflections and feedback with an open mind, so that you can find ways to utilize your strengths, feelings, emotions, and improve on your bad habits and weaknesses.
Written by Jacq of Mindnation