How many times have you found yourself saying, “I didn’t realise” or “I didn’t mean to” or “why did I do that?” Common phrases, aren’t they. Sadly, not enough of us are aware of the world around us, the people around us, or what is going on inside of ourselves.
However, this can all be remedied by one concept: Self-Awareness.
What is Self Awareness?
Self-awareness can be defined as, “the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.” (Wikipedia)
Or more simply, says Google, “conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.”
I like the latter definition, and thus will be using it in regards to this post.
So, Self-Awareness is conscious knowledge of our character and feelings. This means that we are aware of and attentive to our personality, what we say, how we behave, what we feel and think, and in general, how we operate in the world. Sounds like bliss, right?
How Self-Awareness can change your life
How does Self-Awareness actually help us, though? Why is it important, or, as I proclaim: “the only thing we need“?
Think about it, if we are Self-Aware, then we know what we’re doing. We recognise our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours on a deeper, more attentive level. Instead of coming to the realisation that you snapped at your partner because you were tired or stressed from work after she’s already upset; instead, you will be aware of this as it’s happening and put a stop to it (and hopefully apologise).
Or, we could go even further back, and be so Self-Aware that we recognise that we’re feeling tired and stressed, and so we practice self-care and do what we know we need to do to prevent the tiredness, lessen the stress, and not snap at anyone. Get it?
Self-Awareness can be life-changing if you make it a priority. If you dare to face the truths of yourself, explore yourself introspectively, and accept what is found.
With Self-Awareness, you can become aware of and attentive to…
- Illnesses and problems on a mental and physical level
- Tiredness and fatigue; strain and tension
- Behaviours towards others or how you speak to others
- Body language
- Habits and routine
- Mistakes and missteps
- The foods you eat or eating behaviours
- Recurring thoughts and how they make you feel
- To-dos and responsibilities
- Talents and skills
- The actions of the Universe (or your God, whichever you believe in)
- The things you own and buy and why
- Your values and choices
- Insecurities and fears
- The list goes on…
This is some pretty heavy stuff, right? This is…everything. Everything of importance. With Self-Awareness, we can understand ourselves on every level. We can finally pay attention to what we’re doing, how, and most importantly, why.
For example, some people don’t realise that they swear (curse) a lot. They don’t mean to be a potty-mouth or cause offence, it’s just a habit that they’ve picked up. If these people were a little more Self-Aware, though, I’d bet that they would have a better chance of kicking the habit – because, well, they would be more aware of it, which is the first step to doing something about it.
Say someone is rude or arrogant or mean around other people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are, simply, a horrid person to be around. Instead, they may not be aware of what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and how it is being received by others. But with Self-Awareness…well, you get the drift.
Why Self-Awareness is important
Self-Awareness is important because it will help us to be better people. There has been a rise in Personal Development, Self-Improvement, Growth Mindsets, and Intentional (or Better) Living mindsets. This means that we are now in a time of wanting to concentrate on bettering ourselves and our lives. This is great, but we need a healthier, simpler approach, I think (see my post Is Personal Development Dangerous for Our Mental Health).
With Self-Awareness, all the rest shall follow. For, as I believe, with Self-Awareness, we are conscious of what we’re doing and feeling. This means that we will be paying more attention to our actions (or inaction). We will be aware of the fact that we haven’t been reading enough or working out enough or working towards our goals. We are then in the right position and mindset to do these things.
This is why Self-Awareness is so important: if you want to be a better person, you must first be aware of yourself. Simple.
Awareness alerts us to our problem areas, weaknesses, strengths, setbacks and common pitfalls, actions and inaction, tiredness, speech, and what truly matters to us. Many of us are instead working on Auto Pilot. We’re zombies just operating on routine, habits, and doing what other’s make us feel we should do.
We’re stuck in our habits and have no real awareness of what’s doing on. It’s like when you arrive home but have no recollection of the car journey. Mindlessness.
With introspection and awareness, we can rectify this. We can see with our eyes wide open and recognise, “I want this; I am doing that; I must do this…”
In order to be a good person in society, and a good person for ourselves, Self-Awareness is the fundamental foundation of this growth.
How to be more Self-Aware:
There is no hard and fast path to Self-Awareness. Self-Awareness, I believe, is a spectrum. There is no “not Self-Aware” and “Self-Aware.” Instead, we can all be Self-Aware in some form or another, and it is our choice how far we wish to go with it.
Here are some ways to become more Self-Aware:
- Practice Mindfulness*
- Slow down
- Aim for productivity over busyness
- Prioritise and do one thing at a time: focus
- Journal your thoughts and feelings, it brings our attention back to the things that go on (usually subconsciously) inside ourselves
- Practice meditation or another meditative, quiet, slow practice; like yoga or walking
- Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, be wholly in that space; be present
- Review your weeks (or days)
- Listen to the people around you (who you love and trust); pay attention to how you interact with them
- When you catch yourself feeling off, question it; find the root of that feeling and take note of it
- Practice Minimalism; aim for less instead of more and buy with intention
There are many more ways to achieve a better practice of Self-Awareness. The aim is to achieve natural Self-Awareness, but at first, it may take intentional Self-Awareness practices to get used to how it feels to look within and pay attention to yourself.
Let’s take Mindfulness, which is one of the most important paths to Self-Awareness, alongside intention. Mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
As you can see from this definition, Mindfulness is awareness. It is now being used as a therapeutic method for gaining relief from stress, anxiety, depression, and overwhelm. This means that if we can get used to Mindfulness practices, we will ease any tensions in our lives, while also gaining the tools for Self-Awareness.
Mindfulness practices to include in your everyday life:
- Mindfully watch TV
- Mindfully eat
- Mindfully read
- Mindfully walk
- Mindfully talk
- Mindfully work
- Mindfully internet surf
- Mindfully shop
- Mindfully have sex
- Mindfully cook and clean
- And so on…
How do we do these things “mindfully,” you ask? Well, we pay attention. We don’t multitask or think about other things or allow ourselves to be distracted. We’re not elsewhere. Quite simply, with Mindfulness, we are just doing what we’re doing, and being where we are, wholly and completely.
This is why I now practice Intentional Living instead of the other trendy mindsets that are now popular in our society. With Intentional Living, you are simply, well, living with intention. You are consciously making choices that are purposeful, meaningful, important, and crucial for our growth, health, and happiness.
If we can bring ourselves to be more Mindful in our everyday lives, then we are honing our skills for awareness, Presence, and attention (focus). Then, we can begin to live with the mindset of Intentional Living, making choices and doing things that are in our best interest. Then with Mindfulness and Intention at the heart of our routines, we will, in time, be effortlessly practising Self-Awareness.
This is the pathway to success in so many areas of your life: personal goals, relationships, cultivating new skills, retaining knowledge, doing your work, better sleep, balanced diet, and more. You will finally be Awake. Awake and aware of the life you are living. It can be magical…
In conclusion, Self-Awareness is simply the conscious attention we have towards who we are, what we do, what we value, and how we feel. This is important because it helps us to be better people, look after ourselves, make better decisions, and reach personal success. The path to Self-Awareness has no end goal, really, but with being more Mindful (as a practice and in general) we can then live with intention, which will lead to awareness of ourselves and our lives.
If you need any help in bettering your mental health, or better coping with anxiety, depression, and stress, then my book “You’re As Mad As I Am” may be for you. Check it out here, and download a free sample to see what it’s all about.
If you want to hire me to write about mental health (or other), then don’t hesitate to get in touch!