A Comprehensive Guide to Cultivating Self-Awareness

Awareness is knowing what’s happening around you, self-awareness is knowing what you’re experiencing. Self-awareness is the ability to know what we are doing as we do it and understand why we are doing it.

Self-awareness is:

  • knowing what we are doing as we do it
  • understanding why we are doing it
  • seeing yourself clearly and objectively through reflection​

They are two sides to this coin:

  1. Awareness is knowing what’s happening around you
  2. Self-Awareness is knowing what you are experiencing

​Self-Awareness Theory is based on the idea that you are not your thoughts, but the entity observing your thoughts; you are the thinker, separate and apart from your thoughts (Duval & Wicklund, 1972).​

Two types of awareness:

  1. Internal self-awareness: How clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others. Internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.
  2. External self-awareness: Understanding how other people view us, in terms of those same factors listed above. Our research shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. For leaders who see themselves as their employees do, their employees tend to have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied with them, and see them as more effective in general.

Why self-awareness is important:

  1. It can make us more proactive, boost our acceptance, and encourage positive self-development (Sutton, 2016).
  2. Self-awareness allows us to see things from the perspective of others, practice self-control, work creatively and productively, and experience pride in ourselves and our work as well as general self-esteem (Silvia & O’Brien, 2004).
  3. It leads to better decision-making (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992).
  4. It can make us better at our jobs, better communicators in the workplace, and enhance our self-confidence and job-related wellbeing (Sutton, Williams, & Allinson, 2015).
  5. Be well aware of your own beliefs, values, and motivators in relation to others
  6. Communicate and build stronger relationships with others
  7. Feel more self-assured in your thoughts and feeling
  8. Better able to anticipate and persist through stressful situations
  9. More in control of your unconscious mind
  10. Build strong relationships with family, friends, colleagues, etc.

Ways to cultivate self-awareness:

  1. Take personality tests like Myers Briggs and Enneagram as they provide insights into behaviors, patterns, personality types, etc.
  2. Take time to do self-reflection every morning and evening about how you are feeling, what you are thinking, your experiences, etc.
  3. Identify your personal values because they help you show up in life and align with the principles you live by.
  4. Identify your competencies, which are specific skills you possess to help you succeed in the work environment.
  5. Engage in your inner dialogue to better understand your thought process, feelings, behaviors throughout your day.
  6. Make observations in other people because it helps us learn a great deal about ourselves when we relate or detract from others.
  7. Practice mindfulness to be more in present and paying close attention to our surroundings to become more aware of your internal and external state.
  8. Practice yoga because it balances your physical and mental well-being by enabling your mind to learn disciple, self-acceptance, and awareness.
  9. Journal every day to discover what you want, what you value, and what works for you because writing it down makes it more real.
  10. Ask people you love what they think and feel about you as input (not gospel) into your awareness because it will provide you different perspectives.

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