Who are you? It’s a question we all ask ourselves, from birth until our last moments.
As a child, you notice the physical things: your fingers, toes, and body. When you enter into your teen years, you begin to consider whether you want to be cool, athletic, funny, and/or popular. As a young adult, you decide where you want to work, which hobbies you like, and who you want to spend your life with. During your final days, you ask yourself, “Did I become who I set out to be? Did I live the life I was meant to live, and have I fulfilled my purpose?”
What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness involves a consideration of these things. It allows you to explore your lifestyle from the perspective of a realist. When undergoing the process of understanding yourself, you want to understand self-concept, meaning your thoughts, feelings, body, and emotions. If you can understand self-concept, then you’re one step closer to being in tune with yourself.
Ask yourself, “What do I know about me? What have I discovered through my personal experiences?” Possessing a strong understanding of yourself means that when challenges arise, you’re able to conquer them. You’re also able to accomplish your goals and cultivate a more positive outlook, because you’re aware of what you can and can’t do.
There are pros and cons to being in tune with yourself. The pros might include understanding:
- Yourself as an intelligent person
- Your position as a member of your community
- Your status as someone’s friend, or even significant other
- Your ability to nurture and care for others
- Your ability to get the job done
However, you might also:
- Consider yourself unintelligent
- See yourself as a risk or expendable to your community
- Not give yourself enough credit as a spouse or friend
- Label yourself as someone others don’t want to know
- Think of yourself as lazy or incompetent
Your thoughts play a part
There’s no overlooking the role of thoughts in self-awareness. If you think you’re happy, then you try to be happy. If you think you’re sad, that belief leads to sad thoughts. The saying, “If you think it, you can achieve it,” has both truth and merit, because your thoughts can lead you down paths you’re not yet ready or capable of walking.
Practicing mindfulness can help ground your thoughts. Mindfulness puts you in the moment where your thoughts emerge, and then you can learn to see the good associated with that moment.
The role of feelings
Feelings can easily become the driving force behind what comes next. Suppose someone tells you that they don’t feel you understand a concept. In response, you begin to feel confused, because while you thought you got it, others see it differently. Maybe you feel upset about how a work presentation went, or an uncomfortable first date.
Your feelings can easily make or break you, so it’s important to understand them. When you feel a certain way, you think certain things, and those things can lead you to question yourself. It creates an endless cycle where one thing trickles down to the next. When you acknowledge your feelings, you give yourself permission to be sad, happy, angry, mad, confused, or proud. Acknowledge your feelings, accept them, and find a way to move forward.
Understanding your body
How often have you been told that people speak things into existence based on their thoughts and/or feelings? When it comes to personal health, telling yourself that you’re sick can lead to your body saying, “Hey, we’re sick. Bring on the runny nose, cough, and sleepless nights.” Your body is a pure indicator of what’s going on with you.
Care for your body through exercise, eating right, regularly scheduled doctor visits, dental visits, rehab, or medication. Treat your body well, so your mind can rest with the knowledge that it will be alright.
The way you respond with your body can also lead to other emotional responses. If you slam your fist on the table, your body may interpret this as a sign of distress, anger, or frustration. When you begin to cry, it might be because you’re happy, sad, or upset. What’s the mental stressor associated with the response? Understanding your own body language can help to either ground you, or send you into a fluster of emotions.
Identifying your emotions
Emotional intelligence is a key factor in self-awareness. There are three questions you should ask yourself as you build an understanding of and address your emotions:
- What are you feeling?
- What does that emotion signify?
- Will it affect the people around you?
Do you have an ability to differentiate between certain emotions? Can you identify the differences between anger and frustration, happiness and excitement, or sadness and dissatisfaction? If you’re experiencing happiness, are you happy about an outcome, or happy about a discovery? When you’re sad, is it because of a result, or because of what you’ll need to do next? Does your anger come from something not working, or because you know you’ll have to try again? And, when you deal with your emotions, how mindful are you in communicating with others without sending the wrong message?
Managing your emotions, sensations, and feelings plays a major role in building self-awareness. Thorough exploration allows you to gain wisdom regarding aspects of yourself you might not have previously known. As you establish your identity, you also build your reputation and brand yourself as someone with insight. Self-awareness leads to self-improvement, self- improvement leads to self-satisfaction, and self-satisfaction reminds you that you matter.
Sexton, J. (2019, October 17). The 5 Elements of Self-Awareness. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.yourtrainingprovider.com/the-5-elements-of-self-awareness/
Courtney E. Ackerman, M. A. (2022, July 7). What is self-concept theory? A psychologist explains. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/self-concept/
Newroads. (2022, August 8). The importance of being self-aware . New Roads Behavioral Health. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://newroadstreatment.org/the-importance-of-being-self-awareness/
Topher Gamble loves his work as a Vera whole health coach, and appreciates that it allows him to connect with patients and help them reach their full potential.
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