Self-awareness is a concept that was initially theorized by Duval and Wicklund in their 1972 book entitled A Theory of Objective Self-Awareness.
The book theorized that by focusing attention on ourselves we can develop a deeper understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, our habits, our values, and our motives. With this knowledge, we are empowered to make the necessary improvements and adjustments. There are various ways that self-awareness can be enhanced and this article outlines five of those methods.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of keeping attention focused on a particular sensation (i.e. breathing, sound, physical sensation, etc.). As the mind begins to wander, one simply brings their focus back to the object of their attention for the desired amount of time of meditation practice. The practice of mindfulness meditation increases self-awareness by teaching you how to focus more intently.
If you can focus on your breathing or a physical sensation for a period of time, you can then learn to focus on your thoughts for a period of time. It is an awareness of one’s thoughts that can provide deeper insight into one’s emotions and motives, which ultimately impact behavior and choices.
It is this deeper level of consciousness that can provide critical information needed to change or address one’s emotions and motives, as a means of leading to more positive thoughts, and therefore more positive behavior and outcomes.
The act of journaling can be a reflective exercise that can significantly help increase self-awareness. Journaling allows us to take time to write out our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It is via review of these thoughts, feelings, and experiences that we can identify patterns and gain understanding about the way our thoughts, feelings, and experiences may be influencing our actions and behaviors. As a result of identifying those relationships, we can make the necessary changes to improve our lives.
Ask for Feedback
It can be hard to truly observe ourselves as ourselves. Sometimes it can be very useful to get the input and observations of others as we attempt to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. Other people can see our blind spots and provide us with valuable information about ourselves that we can use to help improve our behavior. Thus, actively seeking out feedback from those close to us can be a valuable tool in helping us learn more about ourselves and grow as a result.
Self-reflection is the practice of setting aside time to think back on your life. This means being intentional about assessing and analyzing your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, actions, and choices. Consistently reflecting upon these things will get you in the habit of regularly obtaining information about factors that influence your life and behavior. Via regular reflection, you can quickly catch things that may be negative or off and therefore negatively influencing choices. Then you can quickly and efficiently adjust accordingly as opposed to allowing that negative influence to remain unchecked and wreak havoc in your life.
Writing down goals and then tracking progress towards those goals is a final strong strategy for boosting self-awareness. This activity works to identify patterns or habits that might be keeping you from reaching your goals or being ineffective as you work towards those goals.
For instance, one might spot a tendency to procrastinate via goal tracking by noticing that there is a continuous pattern of meeting deadlines late. Seeing where we desire to be and how much progress we are making on that quest can help us tailor our actions so that we end up being more effective and efficient, rather than wasting time and effort.
Self-awareness is a critical tool in helping us grow as individuals and make progress in our lives. Without self-awareness, we can get stuck in old and negative ways of thinking and being that stunt our growth and prevent us from reaching our full potential. By regularly working to enhance our self-awareness we can put ourselves on a path toward advancement that will get us closer to our goals.