One of the best practices for becoming more productive is to become more self-aware. Most people have a hard time recognizing their thoughts. This is because it requires effort. Ignoring subconscious thoughts takes little effort.
So what is self-awareness?
Self-awareness is the ability to assess one’s self. This skill will allow you to assess your strengths and weaknesses. And the skill will help you think about your values, beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, and how those impact your behavior. Self-awareness allows you to inspect your life and your goals to achieve your mission. Who doesn’t want to achieve their life’s mission(s)?
This importance of becoming more self-aware
Self-awareness can improve your life in numerous ways. And the lack of self-awareness can also impact your life in many ways.
The great news is that this skill can be sharpened easily with practice.
Lack of self-awareness leads to negativity
Not being self-aware leads to more negative thoughts. When an event triggers a negative emotion, our thoughts can become chaotic. This will lead to more negative thoughts and stronger negative emotions.
Having awareness of these thoughts allow individuals to assess what they are experiencing. Now let’s talk about the buzz word mindfulness. Everyone talks about mindfulness but it plays a huge role in your self-awareness skills.
Having more mindfulness of what you are experiencing can help reduce your negative thoughts. These negative thoughts are what cause our bad moods. And intense negative moods lead to reduced productivity and increased procrastination.
Lack of self-awareness can impact relationships
Have you ever had a fight with someone that you felt was super stupid later on? In the moment you likely lacked self-awareness. Having fights with people we love constantly can really impact our relationships with them.
Lack of self-awareness can lead to increased negative moods. When in a poor mood people tend to lash out at partners or other people close to them.
Many of us have internal learned beliefs that without self awareness could impact relationships. The phrase “If you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best” is one such toxic belief. If you are not aware of how the belief could provide harm it can cost you valuable relationships.
I once had a friend that believed I should be there for her even at extensive personal cost if she was in need. The cost was not dating during the deadly pandemic. A cost I was not willing to pay in her time of need. Because well, I was lonely, scared, and going through my own stuff. And I really wanted to find my person. Her belief is that friends should not be selfish when their friends are in need.
I had a belief about her that she did not want to see me and that is why we were not seeing each other early on. Which stems from my deeper insecurities about worthiness. Had I been aware at the time that this might not be true I would have asked sooner and potentially salvaged the relationship that I had had with her.
I have a toxic belief that I dislike most people. Not challenging this belief has led to a dwindling friend group and made it more difficult to make friends. I am aware of this belief and able to challenge it. Currently, I work hard to allow people to show me whether or not I could like them. I am trying to get to know them first before I jump to the conclusion that I do not like them!
Lack of self-awareness causes a lack of direction
People who are not self-aware often feel lost in life. They might not know where they want their life to go. If they know what their life should look like they might not know where to start.
I have met a few people feeling this sense of lost. It can be overwhelming because many people feel like they should just know what they want to do. However, if you are not exploring yourself and your interests you will never figure out what you want to do.
One way to combat this feeling is to pay attention when watching other people do something. Do you ever thing man “I wish I could do that!” This thought is a good indication that it might be something of interest for you.
Benefits of being self-aware
Having Healthier relationships
Often people who are self-aware have healthier relationships. This is because they are able to be more empathic to another’s feelings. People who practice the skill self-awareness have better communication skills. People who are self-aware are able to understand how their behaviors impact their relationships with those around them.
I find that when I am self-aware I can be more vulnerable with my partner. And vulnerability with my partner allows us to understand each other’s needs from the relationship.
When I try to understand myself better the people around me who love me are able to understand me as well.
Knowing what you want
Knowing what you want has advantages. These advantages are having a life that you want to live and do not feel disconnected with. You will feel more sure of the decisions you make.
You will also spend more time doing the things that you want to do. Many people feel resentful in their lives because they do not think about what will make them happy.
You must check in with yourself to ask yourself: What do I need? What do I want?
Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses
Becoming self-aware will help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to understand where you can improve. However, knowing your strengths allows you to know what tools you can utilize to improve more.
Assessing what you need to do to improve your life
Many of us want our lives to change in some way. However, those who are not self-aware find it difficult to determine what in their life needs to change. Becoming more self-aware will help you to determine what in your life should change in order to make small improvements. Once you become more self-aware you will be able to determine your next steps for improvement and your ability to execute those steps.
Gain deeper understanding of who you are
To become more self-aware is to have a deeper understanding of who you are. You will be able to recognize what you value. Becoming self-aware will help you recognize your thoughts and behaviors. Then you will be able to associate your behaviors with your values.
You will be able to align your values with your behaviors. Ultimately, you will lead a life you want. And you will understand who you are and decide who you want to be.
Strategies for becoming more self-aware
1. Spend time just thinking to become more self-aware
Slow down and think. Allowing ourselves to focus on thinking allows to recognize your thoughts and feelings more. Being able to recognize thoughts and feelings allow for you to adjust and check in with yourself when you become upset about something.
I often feel blocked at work. This can make me feel unmotivated or stressed out. Often checking in with myself allows me to unblock myself and get through my hard tasks.
Thinking will allow you to reflect on the days happenings. You will be able to check in with yourself. How am I feeling? What do I need? How am I making meaning of situations throughout the day? Are my thoughts negative or positive.
Exercise: You will want to spend like 30 minutes a day just thinking. Think about something specific. Try to think about all your thoughts on your chosen topic. Really try to explore your thoughts. Question if your thoughts are true. Examine the evidence. Is your thought based on evidence or your feelings? What does your thought mean to you? Is this thought related to one of your values? If so which one? Think about what you are experiencing and feeling. Are you feeling frustrated, anxious, or resentful? What was the triggering situation? You can do this for both positive and negative feelings.
2. Write down your thoughts
Writing down your thoughts will help you examine your thoughts. Sit down and write all the things that come to your head.
You can ask yourself a specific question such as why am I upset? Or what do I want to do with my life?
More of your thoughts will come out when you write.
Have you ever had low mood but had no idea why you were upset? If you said yes, that is a good time to write down your thoughts. You will be more free to examine what you are thinking and needing.
3. Asking for feedback to become more self-aware
It is important to solicit feedback. Feedback is a good way to understand how others perceive how you present yourself.
There are plenty of things we ourselves are not aware of. Having a friend give honest nonjudgmental feedback about our positive and negative qualities can help us know what to improve and hone.
Ask for feedback from someone you trust. This someone should be someone who knows you well and would present feedback in a less hurtful way.
4. Do not use why questions
When researching this topic online I found this article from blog Hubspot. The author argues we do not have access to our subconscious thoughts. Asking ourselves why we are upset or doing something is ineffective because we might not know why. You might come up with a reason that is not the underlying reason.
Instead, ask yourself deeper questions. What can I do better? What can I do to make myself feel better right now? How can I improve my life a little bit today? What is making me not what to work on this task? How am I feeling? What is my brain thinking about this situation? What am I reacting to? All of these questions can help you to dig a little deeper.
Asking why questions can make you feel defensive. Here you want to hone a gentle curiosity. Checking in with yourself instead of blaming and making yourself feel bad will lead to more honest conversations with yourself.
5. Spend time alone not doing anything
Are you one to always have the TV on in the back ground? Can you not go without music at all times of the day? Doing this can distract you from your thoughts and feelings.
Or perhaps, like me, you are always doing something or with someone (pre-covid). Perhaps you fill all of your days with a million things to do so that you are never bored. This filled time can also distract you from your thoughts. It is hard to reflect on the day if you are constantly being distracted or busy doing something.
Allow yourself time to reflect on your thoughts and experiences. This will help you get more in touch with your beliefs and values. Then you can reflect on which of those serve you and which no longer serve you. You will be more aware of who you are at your core.
6. Listen more
Everyone knows listening more allows you to get to know other’s better. However, did you know that it also allows you to get to know yourself better?
Practice listening to people close to you. You can do this by asking more questions based on what they talk about. Making sure you understand what they are saying. Listening with intent to understand rather than responding to what they say. Remember not to respond to what someone says. Take pauses and try to internalize what the other person says.
This will make your more likeable and make the other person feel good about themselves.
7. Question your assumptions
Questioning your assumptions. Questioning your assumptions allows you to be more self aware because you weill be fist asking yourself what your assumptions are and then also finding out if your assumptions are true.
One of my assumptions is that people do not like me. Or I am annoying. If I look at the evidence clearly for and against the assumption “people do not like me” I find that there is more evidence against the assumption.
Being able to combat such an assumption makes me feel happier. I also am more able to recognize my strengths, and recognize people who do really like me.
8. Be present and mindful
Mindfulness is a buzzword. It is trending. There is good reason for this mindfulness is the ability to be present and experience situations and feelings from a neutral perspective.
Examine what is happening in the current moment. What are your thoughts and feelings? Are you making any assumptions? Is there something else going on that is making you react more harshly than you normally do? Do you need to take some space from the situation and come back later?
Be present. Are you worried about something you have to do? While life is happening around you do you think of your task list? Throughout the day slow down take a deep breath examine experiences as they occur. Do not anticipate the future or the past. Be present in the moment. Examine what is happening as it is without judgement a few times a day.
Practicing this will help to notice when your mind does drift off and you become more distracted. You will notice what does distract you throughout the day and the things you think about most often.
9. Read more
Reading can help you develop more empathy and your ability to reflect. There are even books to help you improve your self-awareness.
You will gain new insights as you read more. I find that as I read more I become more aware of my assumptions, beliefs, and values. This year I plan to read 25 books.
Becoming more self-aware takes practice. Being self-aware allows you to get to know yourself better.
Over time you will learn more about who you are. Eventually, you will be able to use your new skill to improve yourself, your mental health, your life, and your relationships.
There are many strategies to hone this skill. Take your time, self-awareness does not happen overnight. And even the most self-aware people could use improvement in this area. Small improvements over time
Please remember to share this post to your favorite social media. And talk about your journey with self-awareness in the comments! Thank you so much for reading I really appreciate it!
PS: Below is a little PDF I created to help you get on your goals. Make sure to sign up to receive it!