What is Self-awareness and Why is it so Important
Self-awareness involves recognizing one’s moods, resources, and intuitions, as well as, knowing our own emotions and how they affect us, and what are our strengths and our weaknesses.
Emotional awareness is having the ability to recognize the way in which our emotions affect our actions, as well as knowing how to properly use our values to serve as a leader when we make decisions.
Our feelings always accompany us in our actions, but we are rarely aware of them, and we only notice when they have overflowed. For this reason, it is necessary to take that little pause to recognize them and know that with them we can affect others and ourselves.
When we have this competence we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we reflect and we are able to learn from experience; we are open to new points of view and continuous training. It also allows us to recognize and correct our failures.
Self-confidence is having a strong sense of security in the assessment we make of ourselves and our abilities. With it, we will be able to face the difficulties that are presented to us and assume any role in our life. So,
If you’re struggling with your self-confidence, here’s How to build your self-confidence.
Self-knowledge must be followed by self-acceptance:
Going through all the levels of self-knowledge will not do much good if they do not lead to self-acceptance. In fact, self-awareness in itself doesn’t make us any happier. In some cases, it can even make us feel more miserable, especially when combined with ruthless criticism.
Therefore, you must be clear that this path of self-knowledge has self-acceptance as its final goal. Only then will you have taken the qualitative leap and will you be able to find inner peace. The self-acceptance that is born of self-knowledge is an incredible force, a source of happiness, and self-confidence to face any adversity.
Why is self-awareness important and how can we be more self-aware?
From the ancient Greek aphorism “know yourself” to Western psychology, self-awareness has always been an interesting topic of research by psychologists and philosophers.
What exactly self-awareness is?
Focusing on the self enables the process of self-evaluation. In 1972, psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund developed the theory of self-knowledge.
Specifically, they explained that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior with our internal standards and values. We become self-aware as objective evaluators of ourselves.”
In essence, they view self-awareness as an important self-control mechanism.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman says that self-knowledge is like “knowing one’s own internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions.”
Goleman’s definition puts more emphasis on the ability to monitor our internal world, our inner thoughts, and emotions as they arise.
In my opinion, it is important to recognize that self-awareness is not only about what we realize about ourselves but also about how we realize and manage our inner world.
An essential component of self-awareness is non-judgment. As we become aware of what is happening within ourselves; we acknowledge and accept it as an inevitable part of being, rather than having a hard time.
Furthermore, self-awareness is more than an accumulation of knowledge about ourselves. It is also about paying attention to our inner or inner state with a learner’s mind and an open heart. Our mind has the ability to store information about how we react to a certain event to form a representation of our emotional life.
Often this information ends up conditioning our minds to react in a similar way when we encounter a similar event in the future. Self-awareness allows us to be aware of these conditions of the mind.
Why does self-awareness matter?
According to Daniel Goleman, self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Managing our emotions and thoughts in a moment is a key skill to better understand ourselves, be at peace with who we are, and proactively manage our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Add that people who have developed self-awareness tend to act consciously rather than react passively, to have good psychological health and a positive outlook on life. They also have a greater depth of life experience and are more likely to be more compassionate to themselves and to others.
Why isn’t it easy to be more self-aware?
We are no longer self-aware as most of the time we are simply “not in the here and now” (mentally present) to judge ourselves. In other words, we are not present to pay attention to what is happening in or around us.
Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, both psychologists, discovered that almost half the time we go on “automatic pilot” of what we are doing or how we feel, our minds wander to somewhere other than the present.
In addition to constant mental wandering, various cognitive biases also affect our ability to have a more accurate understanding of ourselves.
How to know yourself?
3 Levels of Self-awareness:
Here are the 3 most important self-knowledge questions you should ask yourself.
Level 1 – What are you doing?
Sometimes we avoid pain through distraction. We transport our minds to another time or place where we feel more secure and isolated from the pain of everyday life. It is easier to dive into mobile, television, and social networks or let the mind wander towards a golden future making plans that we will never carry out. Just to try to forget There are many shelters where we can hide to assume that everything is perfect and that we do not need to change anything.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with distracting us. Distraction is important for happiness and health. But we must make sure that distraction is not a smokescreen that hides other problems that will continue to grow on the back end, as we look the other way.
We cannot get drunk with distraction. We cannot spend much of our free time drowning in a sea of distractions that leads to a state of semi-consciousness or chosen lobotomy.
In fact, when the hidden goal of distraction is to escape reality, we end up tired. That distraction is not healthy. It does not give satisfaction and happiness. It is just a fleeting remedy, almost addictive, which we will have to resort to every day since we do not go for a solution to the real problems.
Therefore, to overcome the first level of self-knowledge it is important that you spend time with yourself. You should try to reflect on your daily habits and ask yourself if they really lead you to the place where you want to be or if, on the contrary, they are a subterfuge that leads to unhappiness and disappointment. Ask yourself if what you do every day really satisfies you and contributes to your well-being or if is it a learned habit that does not contribute anything to you.
Level 2 – What are you feeling?
Have you ever been upset and when someone asks you why you are angry, do you reply that you are not angry? When we run on autopilot and use distractions to avoid thinking, it is normal for our emotions to accumulate and end up exploding, although we do not always recognize it.
It is at this second level of self-knowledge that we begin to discover who we really are. Connecting with our emotions is a very intense process that reveals parts of ourselves that we did not know or that we were hiding because they scared us or caused cognitive dissonance. If we are not hypocritical people with ourselves and we dare to recognize and explore absolutely everything we feel, we will discover new facets of ourselves.
Unfortunately, instead of looking within, many people try to escape these emotions through experiences that affect them. They have not taught us to explore emotions but on the contrary, to repress and hide them, pretending that they do not exist.
Some of the key self-knowledge questions are:
What are you feeling? Why are you feeling it?
It is about assuming that emotions are like little compasses that tell us what we like and dislike. You don’t need to make value judgments. We are neither better nor worse for feeling a certain way. The really important thing is to be aware of those emotions and manage them in an assertive way. Anger, irritation, and sadness, for example, can become powerful creative engines. It all depends on how we overcome and express those emotions. However, suppression of emotions can be harmful to our mental and physical health.
Level 3 – What are your blind spots?
It is likely that the deeper you go into yourself, the more you wonder how to know yourself and the further you go on that path, the more things you will discover that you do not like. Sometimes that path can be scary, especially if you think there is a “right” way to feel and think.
You will also likely realize that your thoughts, arguments, and actions are mere reflections of the thoughts, arguments, and actions of those around you. It is normal. For many years you have been subject to its influence without question.
At this level of self-awareness and introspection, the most important thing is to be aware of your blind spots. That is to say, of those things that you have been hiding because they did not correspond with the idealized image that you had of yourself. Or also from those limiting beliefs that you have nurtured about yourself, from the recurring negative thoughts that you have been cultivating. Recognizing your blind spots will prevent you from becoming a slave to defense mechanisms.
It is an integrative level of self-awareness, in which you begin to reflect on your actions, thoughts, and emotions to find the maladaptive patterns that have no reason for being and are hurting you.
Some self-awareness questions that can serve as an example are:
When you get angry, do you react with arrogance?
When you are sad, do you mask it with anger?
Knowing your patterns will allow you to find more assertive, healthy, and satisfying ways of dealing with reality.
4 Ways to cultivate self-awareness:
Create some space for yourself. Every day leave some time and space for yourself. Maybe first thing in the morning or half an hour before bed, try to stay away from digital distractions and spend some time with yourself, reading, writing, meditating, and connecting.
(i) Practice mindfulness:
Mindfulness is the key to self-awareness. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.” Through mindfulness practice, you will be more present with yourself so that you can “be there” observing what is happening in and around you. You can practice mindfulness anytime you want, through active listening.
(ii) Keep a journal:
Writing not only helps us process our thoughts but also makes us feel connected and at peace with ourselves. Writing can also create more headspace as your thoughts flow onto paper.
(iii) Practice listening:
Listening is being present and paying attention to other people’s emotions, body movements, and body language. It’s about showing empathy and understanding without constantly evaluating or judging. When you become a good listener, you will also become better at listening to your own inner voice and you will become your best friend.
(iv) Get different perspectives:
Ask for feedback. Sometimes we can be too afraid to ask what others think of us. Feedback can be biased or even dishonest, but your inner judgment should be able to differentiate the true, genuine, or balanced perspective as you learn more about yourself and others.
Self-awareness is a rich and complicated subject. As human beings, we may never fully understand each other. But perhaps it is the journey of exploring, understanding, and becoming ourselves that makes life worth living.
Recommended Books for Self-awareness:
Self-Awareness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) by Daniel Goleman and Robert S. Kaplan
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
7 Mindsets to Master Self-Awareness by Elizabeth Diamond
Self-Awareness: The Hidden Driver of Success and Satisfaction by Travis Bradberry
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