Self awareness is the key to self mastery
In my previous post, I discussed what self-awareness is and why you need it. We looked at how important it is to understand your emotions, feelings and how they contribute to your behavior. Now that you know what self-awareness is and why it matters, let’s look at three major ways various ways you can become more self-aware.
By understanding your personality and your identity
To properly know and understand yourself, it is important that you understand your personality. Personality is a consistent set of attributes that you display over time and across situations. Your personality distinguishes you from the next person.
Personalities develop from genetics and social surrounding. This is simply saying that you were born possessing some attributes, and others you have picked along the way from your environment. I recommend that you take a personality test, identify your personality type, and use this guide to help you understand your personality. Knowing your personality means reflecting on why you are the way you are. This way, you can understand yourself better and use this information to create a life that you want.
Part of understanding your identity is reflecting back at your childhood and upbringing. This is because how you were brought up really influences the person you are today. Your family and upbringing played a major role in shaping your identity. For example, if you grew up without parents and life was difficult for you, this is a very difficult childhood. However, the lessons learned from this can make you a stronger, persistent and persevering person, traits which will come in handy in your adulthood. On the other hand, there are those who are shaped negatively by such experiences. They become bitter adults, sometimes pessimists who believe every forces in the world are against them.
I have provided some of these exercises on childhood experiences, family influence on your life in my self-awareness course that you can take to determine the influence that your childhood and family has had on your life and therefore know how they influence the person you are today and become more self-aware.
By seeking feedback about yourself from others
There are some traits we possess but are not aware we possess them. The Johari window shows that there are some aspects about ourselves that we do not know but others do. For example, you may be a generous and caring person but you are not aware of this because the people on the receiving end are the ones that understand your generosity. You also may be a rude person yet you don’t know your words come out as rude because you intend to be honest but that’s not the case.
Getting feedback from others helps you become more self-aware as you learn some of your qualities from another person. Through feedback, a person may tell you, “try to find nice words to express your opinions. Sometimes you can be really insensitive to my feelings”. That way, you learn something about yourself from that person. Some could be good traits you learn about yourself that will make you appreciate yourself some more, others could be some elements that you may consider changing especially to form better relationships with others.
Sometime back, my mother and I were going on a short holiday together. Before we left, my brother told me, ‘whatever you do, make sure you do as mum wants, even if you don’t want to, it will mean a lot to her. She won’t ask you to, but she will want to go places you don’t want to go’. My first reaction was, “What?! Of course I will make sure she has good time!!” And then when I thought about it, I realized I have a habit of pushing to have my way maybe too much. If I am tired for example, I am likely to say I want to go back to the hotel, even if my very energetic mother wanted to continue exploring. This comment from my brother really had me.
I did some self-reflection and realized I can become focused on what I want so much that I don’t consider the other person wants, meaning I don’t compromise much. In that whole week that we traveled together, I went wherever my mother wanted to go and kept her company, even when I was dying to retreat back to the hotel. Later, at the end of the trip, I realized this compromise made my mum have the best time on this trip, and she didn’t have to feel bad that she made me go places, since she had no idea I didn’t want to go all the time. These days, I reflect on what other person wants before I push for what I want. I am not saying I allow myself to become a doormat, but compromising little things for the people you love might give them so much joy, and you will feel awesome too for making them happy.
Write stuff down, or share with a trusted person
Most of us don’t like writing stuff down because, well, for whatever reason. Some fear that they will go too deep into their emotions, others just don’t like writing and consider it tedious. Plus there is also the chance that someone will access your journal and therefore access your deepest feelings. Either way, find a way to express yourself even if it is talking to another person. Sometimes back, I took a class on psychology and one of the course requirements was to attend a number of therapy sessions. I never thought I needed therapy, after all, I am a well-balanced person, or so I thought. However, I attended the sessions and simply shared simple things with the therapist, from decisions I needed to make to my daily activities and interactions with my family and friends. The more I talked, the more gained clarity over some issues in my personality and in some decisions I needed to make.
There is clarity in sharing
You really don’t need therapy sessions to share, all you need is a good friend that you can share open, honest and intimate conversations with. I have a friend who we talk about a lot happening around us and it helps gain some clarity over how I am feeling and thinking and hence increases my self-awareness a tad.