Self-awareness is a psychological state where one focuses on themselves, and more specifically, their traits, behaviours, and feelings.
Being self-aware is important because when we have a better understanding of ourselves, we are able to experience ourselves as the unique individuals we are. We are then empowered to make changes, building on areas of strength and working on areas we’d like to improve.
The key benefits of practicing self-awareness include:
- Being able to better manage your emotions
- Better critical thinking and decision-making skills
- More empathy and thus improved relationships
- Improved leadership skills
- Higher self-esteem
- Better communication
- Increased creativity
If you want to increase your own self-awareness, keep reading: this blog will give you 9 ways to do so.
1. Make Time for Yourself
This can be hard when you have a demanding schedule, but designating time for yourself is key to being your best and tuning in to how you really feel.
Try setting aside 30 to 60 minutes each day to be alone and away from distractions (especially digital ones like phones). Spend time reading, writing, meditating, and doing whatever you need to do to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings.
2. Take Up Journaling
Writing is an excellent way to process your thoughts and feelings, and think through any problems you are facing. Keeping a journal will not only help you in the short term, but the long term also, as you’ll be able to track your growth and see how you’ve progressed over time.
Try writing a few sentences each day about how you feel in that particular moment. Whether you are feeling happy, sad, anxious or at peace, document that. This self-reflective process will help you become more in tune with your thoughts and feelings, and will inevitably put you on a path to greater self-awareness.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment.
When you focus on the here and now, you’ll notice that certain thoughts and feelings arise. Don’t block these out; instead, take note of them.
If you get an anxious thought about an upcoming exam, for example, say to yourself “I’m feeling anxious about my exam” without judgement. Then, gently pull your mind back to the present. This exercise will help you to identify your thoughts and feelings, while also teaching you how to manage them calmly.
4. Listen More
Another way to increase your self-awareness is by listening more intently to others.
Try to be a better listener for your friends, family, and colleagues. This means being present and paying close attention to the speaker’s words, emotions, and even body language, without making any judgements or drifting off into your own world.
By lending an ear to others, you’ll be able to better listen to your inner voice.
5. Ask for Feedback
Seeking honest feedback from others is another great way to increase your self-awareness.
Feedback is most useful when it’s given by those who understand us and we are told what we need to hear, rather than what we want to hear.
When receiving feedback, it’s important to be open-minded—particularly if there’s a difference of opinion because this can foster learning. You may need to question the feedback to enhance your understanding and to allow yourself to make the necessary improvements.
6. Recognise Your Strengths and Weaknesses
We all have strengths and weaknesses, and recognising your own can improve your self-awareness. Identifying what you do well and building on those areas, and identifying what you could improve and working on those areas, is important to having a better understanding of yourself.
7. Question Decisions
Stopping to ask yourself ‘why’ when making decisions is another way to improve your self-awareness. By doing this, you are able to better understand the motives behind your decisions and explore them further; you will then feel confident that the decisions you make are well aligned to you and your personal values and goals.
Here’s an exercise you can try the next time you have to make an important decision: come up with three good reasons as to why you should pursue it, to ensure it’s something you truly want to do.
8. Write Down Your Goals and Priorities
One of the best ways to increase self-awareness is to write down what you want to achieve (this could relate to career, health, family, friends, adventure) and track your progress.
Plan out your goals so they turn from ideas into a step-by-step process. Then, break down your larger goal into mini-goals so it seems less overwhelming and you can easily track your progress.
You can also write down what you want to actively prioritise in your life, and the ways in which you can ensure you are actively prioritising those things.
9. Challenge Yourself
An excellent way to practice self-awareness and work on becoming the best of yourself is to undertake something significant. True growth comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking risks.
Granted this is often easier said than done, but testing your limits will help you figure out who you truly are as a person and what you truly want in life.
Increasing your self-awareness doesn’t happen overnight; it will take time and patience. But building good habits that keep you aware of yourself (your traits, behaviours, and feelings) can positively impact your life, especially your interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.