Self-awareness is the ability to tune into your emotions and thoughts and manage them in productive ways.
Self-awareness is the ability to tune into your emotions and thoughts and manage them in productive ways. It's the skill of better understanding ourselves and how we relate to the world around us. A self-aware person can think critically about their actions without judgment, analyze their motives and biases, control their impulses and be receptive to new information. They are aware of their feelings, triggers and emotional reactions—both good or bad—and use that information as motivation for growth rather than letting it lead to fear or anxiety.
If you're interested in developing this skill, you've come to the right place! Just keep in mind: that no one is born with an exceptional level of self-awareness. Everyone has different levels of awareness about themselves—some people have more or less than others—but everyone can improve their skills in this area if they commit time and energy. Self-awareness can help your personal development by increasing your clarity on what you want from life, how you want to live it, who you are now versus who you want to become; it removes doubt from your decisions because they're backed up by a clear understanding of yourself as well as where you stand in relation with everything else happening around you at any given moment.
Checking in with your emotions/bodily sensations
So, how do you keep track of what's going on inside your body and mind? Here are a few ways to check in with yourself:
- Take note of how you're feeling throughout the day. Do you find repetitive triggers or events that stress you?
- Ask yourself if something might be affecting your reactions to situations? For example, did your boss say something that reminded you of being disciplined as a child?
- Notice any feelings of tension in your body and take some time to focus on relaxing those muscles. Then ask yourself why the tension is there in the first place. If you feel tightness in your shoulders and feel "the weight of the world", ask yourself what feels like you are carrying the load for everyone or what is weighing you down. Body sensations are often metaphoric.
Naming your emotions/sensations
To gain self-awareness, you need to understand your own emotions. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Emotions are complex, and we often have conflicting feelings simultaneously. One way to handle this is to put a name on it.
Sometimes we can't identify our emotions because sometimes they don't have names—we have an experience, but there is no word for it in our vocabulary--and if you don't know how to describe something, you can't think about it, let alone understand it. I believe that giving our experiences and emotions names allows us to acknowledge them, explore them and ultimately make sense of them. For example, sometimes you may have a sensation of your stomach burning, but no emotion tied to it initially, but ask yourself how the burning makes you feel? Anxious, worried or sad? Then ask yourself, what makes you feel anxious, worried and sad? Words and feelings are rooted in beliefs and trigger points; playing a quick game of "Where is Waldo" with your feelings helps you find the root!
Finding the rooted emotion? When did it start? Childhood?
Emotions are the language of your subconscious and often hold deeper patterns than the initial surface thoughts. But what is the most effective way to figure out how to begin? This involves learning to be an observer. When something happens, notice your reaction and examine it:
- Is there a pattern you see showing up repeatedly?
- Can you find the rooted emotion? When did it start? Childhood?
- What events trigger you, and what happens when they occur?
- Do you feel you're carrying around "baggage" that doesn't belong to you anymore?
- Do certain people push your buttons, or do they bring out a particular emotion in you that shows up repeatedly in other situations as well?
Working on improving your self-awareness.
The good news is that self-awareness can be learned. You'll get a lot of practice, considering we all have an ego running around inside our minds. Self-awareness is like any other form of mental fitness: it's a skill you learn, hone, and improve over time. This isn't the type of thing you can sign up for and then have forever—you have to exercise those awareness muscles to see results regularly.
As we've seen, self-awareness can help you learn more about yourself and how you operate. This understanding is key to making changes in your life to improve your happiness, productivity and relationships.
If you want to start improving yourself today, our 1:1 VIP Coaching Program might be just what you need. Tiffany Spencer, RN, Mental Fitness expert is trained at helping people like you identify and work through the challenges holding them back from achieving their goals.
Alternatively, join one of our Group Coaching Programs for a more affordable option that still provides plenty of support and guidance.
So, what step will you take today to become more aware of yourself?