It might seem as though self-awareness is just another buzzword, but research suggests otherwise. In fact, with a bit of self-awareness, you will not only see yourself more clearly, but you will be a more creative and confident person.
Don’t you want to build strong relationships, communicate effectively, and make sound decisions? Well, that’s what self-awareness delivers. We become better people, more effective in every role we play, and more satisfied humans, too.
Perhaps our greatest roadblock to self-awareness is our own understanding of it, and our lack of knowledge around what it takes to improve. Sadly, a lot of people believe themselves to be self-aware, but the evidence suggests otherwise. In reality, true self-awareness is rare.
The Shades of Self-Awareness
Firstly, there are two different types of self-awareness. This has been a topic of conversation for decades and in that time, there have been a variety of definitions for self-awareness. There’s our ability to track our inner world. Some call it a state of self-consciousness, temporary or otherwise. Then there are people who say it’s the difference between how we view ourselves versus how others do. We can say there are two broad umbrellas of which self-awareness falls under.
The first is our internal awareness, this represents how clearly, we see our aspirations, desires, passions, and values. It also includes how we fit in with our environment and how we think, feel, and react. This is associated with your personal and professional happiness on the positive side, and on the negative side can influence anxiety, stress, and depression.
Then there is external awareness. This is your understanding of how people view you along the same factors listed above. When you are aware of how others see you, you tend to be more empathetic and more likely to listen to the perspective of others.
Just because you have one does not mean you have the other. The two are almost entirely unrelated. So, you may have a high level of external self-awareness with no internal self-awareness whatsoever (and vice versa). You need a balance of the two, especially if you want to understand the why’s of everything you do.
The Self-Analysis of Self-Awareness
The most obvious aspect of analyzing why you do what you do would be through introspection. However, introspection won’t always improve self-awareness, it’s simply a tool to advance it, that is if you’re doing it properly.
We often ask ourselves why. That’s not an effective way to question yourself, even if you are trying to determine the why of what you do. A lot of the answers are trapped beyond your conscious awareness which means you create answers and they are rarely accurate. We don’t often behave rationally so we are guilty of seizing insights without questioning their value. Asking why also often brings up negative thoughts. The correct way to get introspective is what. By asking what you will find your way to the whys you have been searching for.
As an example, you are a veteran of your industry, but you despise your job. Do you keep asking why do I feel awful? You should be asking what situations make me feel awful? And what do those situations have in common? Now you can recognize the true issue you’re facing and understand why you are where you are and why you make the decisions you do, etc.
Analyzing the why’s of everything you do is one of the most effective ways to gain self-awareness because as you learn valuable insights into your character you start to build a more complete picture of what makes you tick. To do this one must understand that self-awareness isn’t a single truth, rather, it’s a balance of two viewpoints, which may or may not align with each other.