Self-awareness - finding & understanding yourself. It is an important factor in becoming a happier person. Some people think that self-awareness is a trait that you are either born with or not born with, however, the truth is, it can be cultivated by implementing some good habits. How so? Here are three.
Many who are self-aware are curious about how they think and function. What does that mean exactly? It is the ability of being aware of your thought process and being able to assess the quality and usefulness of that thinking. For example, worrying. When we worry about something, it's not because something happened to us, but rather it is because of something we do that causes us to worry. In some cases, it can develop into a habitual way of thinking that causes us to be stressed or anxious often.
When a person does not stop to think about why they are thinking the way they are, it can feel like the situation is overwhelming and out of your control. However, when you get into the habit of being curious as to why you're thinking a certain way, you can help yourself realize that it is actually how you are thinking that is causing you to worry. You can be more in control and put a stop to negative thinking. This in turn, can positively affect how you feel. When we are curious about our thoughts, it becomes easier to work with our disquieting thoughts rather than trying to fight against them.
One of the only ways we can improve ourselves is to look at ourselves objectively. People who are self-aware have the humility to realize that they can't always see themselves objectively. To better understand ourselves objectively we need to be humble and simply ask others what they think about ourselves. For example:
- Do you often get into a conflict with others?
Ask someone whom you respect for their honest opinion regarding your conflict.
- Do you have a family member who often tells you that you have an issue with anger management?
Ask another friend or family member if you come across as an active volcano.
- Do you tend to view yourself, life, or others in a negative way?
Ask someone whom you respect if they can see tendencies or habits that you have that could cause you to feel that way.
However, it is very important to realize that accepting constructive feedback may not be easy. It takes humility and the ability to resist going on the defense. Also, it may take some courage to overcome the fear of hearing the negative truth about ourselves. Our most natural response to when we are hurt, is to fight or flight - meaning we either become defensive and start picking at the other person or we dismiss what they say as not applicable to ourselves. Doing either or does more harm than good.
To improve your self-awareness, you need to obtain an objective perspective of yourself. To get that you need to ask for objective feedback from others. To actually benefit from others' feedback, you must learn to be tolerant and less defensive when you are faced with constructive criticism. In this way, you can continue to grow and improve yourself.
One issue many people have is that they expect too much of others or of themselves. They assume that having a high expectation is a good way to encourage growth to achieve new goals. However, in reality, if that expectation isn't based on reliable historical data and facts, it's only a dream that we hope for to soothe our own anxieties and uncertainty. Although it may temporarily relieve some stress, it is only a recipe for greater disappointment and stress down the road.
Having a high expectation is also a form of denial and can start impairing your ability to be self aware of yourself. So be sure to take the time to frequently check your expectations in life and make sure that they aren't far-fetched and unrealistic. Doing so can prevent greater disappointments in the future and can increase your sense of accomplishment when you achieve the realistic attainable expectations you've set.