It’s time to talk about developing self-awareness again. Without self-awareness, we have no idea why we do what we do, what we want or what we need to change to have a fuller more rewarding, satisfying life. A number of you have said something like, “I get it—I need to be more self-aware but how do I go about doing it?”
The question has a simple answer but it’s not that simple in its application. So let’s look at six things you can begin to do to help you enhance your self-awareness.
1. Stay tuned in (become aware of your self-awareness).
Now, that sounds strange but it is what you must do to become more aware—to be conscious of yourself. How are you feeling, and what are you thinking in any given situation? What pushes your buttons and why? Who pushes your buttons and how? In other words, you have to act as “witness” to your own thoughts and actions.
This may be difficult in the beginning but can get easier with practice. “Why is it, ” you may ask yourself, “that when Jane asks to borrow from me, I am delighted to oblige, but when Jenny asks to borrow from me, I grumble and often feel ‘put upon ‘even though I consider them both to be my best friends?”
The answer will give you some good clues as to who you are and what you like. If you get an invitation to go sailing and one to go to a concert, which do you choose and why? Is it because you like the person who invited you or because you are naturally drawn to the water or to that type of music?
2. Monitor your thinking.
Are your thoughts predominately positive or negative? Are they “all over the place” or do you keep them in check? Do you think things through or make conclusions without an examination of the facts. Do you sometimes “just know?” During your day, become aware of the thoughts you think when they aren’t focused on your work.
3. Ask yourself questions about yourself and give yourself honest answers.
If you can’t answer the question, dig deeper. If someone, for instance, asks you what your favorite book is, you may answer quickly but do you know why it is your favorite book? Do you like it because of the information, the excitement, the writing style, the storyline? Or do you like it because your best friend liked it?
Why do you do your daily routines the way you do them? Have you ever thought about it? What do you believe about the key things in your life? (Love, relationships, marriage, religion, spirituality, death, government, politics. etc.) Why?
3. Determine what you are really good at and what do you enjoy doing the most.
We are all good at something and it isn’t “egotistic” to admit it. Think about it. Are you a good writer and do you enjoy it? Or are you a great reader? Perhaps you’d rather watch paint dry than read a book. But do you know what you like? Do you have a gift for music or are you a terrific member of the audience? Are you great with children and have a gift for storytelling? Or do children make you feel nervous and insecure?
What are you good at that has yet to be developed? The answer to this question can lead you on a life adventure that brings you joy and possibly wealth as well as joy to those around you.
4. Determine what you are NOT good at and do not enjoy doing.
This does not mean you are “less than” —it simply means you know something about yourself and what you don’t want to spend time and effort on. For instance, I dislike gardening and my thumb is any color but green. I love to enjoy beautiful landscaping and flowers of every kind —but I don’t like to dig around in the dirt, pull weeds, and see that everything gets watered appropriately. I buy flowers at the grocery store or florist and leave the gardening tools alone.
Neither am I am good at making music. I truly cannot sing, I have no sense of rhythm and, even though I was in the band in high school, I wasn’t very good. I have made serious efforts to play the piano and sing on key and simply cannot do either. But I have a passion for good music and am an enthusiastic member of the audience.
I encourage anyone else with musical talent to “go for it.” I love it and enjoy it but have no talent. That’s honest. Not liking to garden and not being good at music does not lessen me as a person—it simply means I recognize certain things about myself.
It is often in the stillness of meditation that you learn the most about yourself. The answers may not come at the time but they will gradually filter in and you will get to know yourself better and better.There is no better tool for self-awareness than daily meditation.
I have been told in the past to “Leave no stone unturned. Find all your faults and try to remedy them” I don’t agree with that idea. Approach self-discovery as you would approach looking for hidden treasure in this amazing being who bears your name. If you find something you don’t like, examine it, make a decision about it and then say, “O.K., what’s next?” It is the self-aware person who is able to live life to the fullest and bring the most she/he has to offer to humankind. Self-awareness is really what self-improvement is about.