Are there certain behaviors or attitudes that you repeat over and over again despite it leading to negative outcomes?
Self-awareness is a skill that anyone can learn to improve with the right exercises and habits, but building self-awareness is a life-long effort because it means being the responsible leader of your own life.
By knowing and understanding ourselves better, we can have more information about the way we act —to make necessary changes— and therefore improve our lives.
1- Pay attention to what bothers you about other people
Often the things that irritate us the most in other people are a reflection of some quality we dislike in ourselves. Whether conscious or not, we recognize our own flaws and deficiencies, and that in turn makes it easier to identify those traits in others
So, whenever someone does something that seems to particularly annoy or irritate you, ask yourself:
Do I do some version of that?
Could this be a reflection of something in me that I dislike?
Am I exhibiting the same behaviors?
What could I be doing better?
Am I making the changes in myself that I’d like to see in my relationships?
2- Ask trusted friends and co-workers
Self-awareness is not solely lonely work. That means understanding how others see us, and what they value in us.
Ask your peers and friends for feedback. Use their opinion to improve and to get to know yourself better. Choose a solid relationship in your life: parent, spouse, best friend, etc, someone you know would be willing to point out something negative.
Don’t take criticism personally.
Avoid defensiveness at all costs.
In addition to informally and periodically asking friends, use the formal processes and mechanisms at your workplace. Provided well, constructive, formalized feedback at work allows us to better see our own strengths and weaknesses.
Try your best to simply acknowledge their feedback and thank them for giving it.
3- Identify cognitive distortions
Cognitive distortions are inaccurate thoughts and beliefs that warp how we see things, including ourselves.
Here are some examples to analyze.
– If you’ve developed a mental habit of name-calling other drivers, anytime you get upset on the road, you miss the opportunity to see your own behavior and self-correct, because even though other drivers do make mistakes, sometimes you make mistakes too.
– If you’re convinced that you’re either destined for success or doomed to failure, that the people in your life are either angelic or evil, you’re probably engaging in cognitive distortion.. We use to consider things as binary, either on one extreme or on the other, without realizing the full scale in between.
– If you have a negative experience in one relationship, and you immediately develop a belief that you just aren’t good at relationships at all, you’re probably engaging in cognitive distortion.
When people overgeneralize, conclude about one event, and then incorrectly apply that conclusion across the board.
We must learn to identify these patterns of inaccurate thinking, then we can become more self-aware.
4- Build the courage to face your problems
Facing our problems is probably the most challenging task in our lives.
Normally “our problems” are either hard to identify and, in the worst-case, stem from unhealed, aching traumas.
Do it anyway. Identify your emotional kryptonite.
Learning to tolerate the discomfort of our problems can unlock a wealth of insight about ourselves and our world if we’re willing to work on it.
5- Create a long-term plan
Write down your key plans and priorities.
One of the best ways to increase self-awareness is to write down what you want to do and track your progress.
Before making your desired plan, consider whether you can actually do it.
Be sure to create smart, specific, realistic, achievable, measurable, and timely goals, to eventually reach your desire.
Being able to think developmentally and in context is key to self-awareness.
“The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself.” — David Goggins
Impulsivity: the tendency to act without thinking, for example, when you run across the street without looking.
Constructive: serving a useful purpose.
Bond: a relationship between people or groups based on shared feelings, interests, or experiences.
Decision-making: the process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative resolutions.
Self-esteem: is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth.
Lash out at (someone)
“My friend Erik always lashes out at people when he’s under a lot of stress.”
“I’m staying away from my wife until she calms down.”
“It’s not healthy to bottle up your feelings like that.”
“Mom, you really need to lighten up!”
“Hey, you! Pay attention and stop goofing off!”
On pins and needles: feeling anxious or nervous.
Fed up: bored, annoyed, or disappointed, especially by something that you have experienced for too long.
Bent out of shape: angry or agitated.
On cloud nine: feeling extremely happy.
Head over heels: being completely in love with someone.
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