Posted on February 7, 2024 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

Self-awareness is the recognition of one’s own emotional state at any given point in time. The argument suggests that we are, far too often, wholly unaware of the emotional state we are currently in, and the degree to which that state influences our behavior and thought process. To the degree that we can manage our emotional states, we are better able to manage these other elements of our lives as well.

Self-awareness is also the ability to look at your own words and actions from a perspective outside of yourself; to see yourself as others see you. In this sense, we can see how self-awareness is a way of introspection that does not shut the world out, but rather brings it in for assessment against one’s own feelings and behaviour. It entails meta-cognition: the ability to think about thinking and implies the ability to recognize ourselves as we see ourselves, and also to understand how others may see us based on what we know about human behaviour.

If you want to cultivate or enhance self-awareness, here is what the mental health experts recommend:

  1. Be curious about who you are

To be self-aware, a person needs to be curious about themselves. Our minds and bodies are territories for which we yet need road maps. Every person has some roads they do not wish to take, and some roads they feel are worth exploring. How far you will go in your journey of understanding yourself depends on what you are ready to explore and experience.”

  1. Let your walls down

When we see something, we do not immediately like in ourselves, our first reaction could be to defend ourselves from it, which is partly why self-awareness is so challenging. Try to let go of judgment and the instinctual urge to protect yourself. You become self-aware through a willingness to let go of defensiveness, and an openness to seeing yourself in a way that is different from what you have always assumed. Often this means you have to be willing to see yourself in a less-than-positive light.

  1. Look in the mirror – literally

Use mirrors as a meditation tool that increases their self-awareness. When people first look at themselves, they are often very critical. Shift your perspective and use your reflection for deeper self-awareness. You learn to track your attention and emotions and gain new insights into how your thoughts are affecting you in real time – this sort of mimic face-to-face conversations that involve deep listening and being fully present with another person.

  1. Keep a journal and note what triggers positive feelings

Journaling is a great way to start this process of being mindful. As you are journaling, pay attention to your day. Ask yourself how you feel. If there are negative feelings associated with the day, think about what triggers may have caused them to bubble up. For any positive feelings, think about what may have triggered you to feel happy.

  1. Substitute some screen time with people time

The average amount of time we spend alone gazing at our screens now surpasses our time in face-to-face contact. Science tells us that we need reflections to develop our sense of self in relation to others. As we spend more time alone and on our devices,, we miss this essential human mirroring. The symptoms of a lack of mirroring are becoming more apparent in our society: increases in anxiety, lack of empathy and intense self-objectification (as in the selfie craze). There is a call – if not an urgent cry – for greater self-awareness and reflection.

  1. Ask others how they see you

Not only should we build out our face-to-face social actions, but also use a portion of this time to learn about how our loved ones perceive us. Talk to your closest loved ones and be courageous enough to ask how they perceive you in various situations. Getting perspective on how you behave or come off in certain situations can help us bring into our awareness something that was previously invisible to us.

  1. Angry at someone? Take the ‘third person’ perspective

Ultimately the benefits of self-awareness are to serve not only you in emotional management, but also to serve your relationships. If you catch yourself raising your voice, you may feel justified due to being upset. However, for the person with you (second person), the experience will be quite different. Trying to imagine yourself in that person’s place will improve self-awareness, reduce defensiveness, and quite possibly improve your relationship with that person as well. Third person is particularly effective for people who are overly self-critical or who trend to be self-destructive. What would you advise if you were a caring friend watching your behaviour? That would be taking a ‘third person’ perspective.

  1. Keep checking in with yourself (and a list of feelings)

Clinically, the most effective method for the development of self-awareness is a pause and brief check-in with oneself: How are you feeling right now? What do you think might be driving that feeling? “This may seem absurdly simple, but in practice, people find it to be quite difficult. Many need to carry a list of possible emotions with them as they begin this exercise, as the pat answers (‘I feel fine.’; ‘I feel bad.’; ‘I feel angry.’) are not particularly rich or productive.

  1. Keep learning – the journey never ends

There is a trove of wonderful material out there that can be of guidance in your ever-evolving journey towards self-awareness. Read and learn about the psychology and practices of self-awareness. Get excited about gaining the knowledge that will in turn teach you about yourself. There are so many incredible psychology books and workbooks that encourage the cultivation of our self-awareness.

As usual, we remind you to take your Memo Plus Gold daily. It will help to keep you alert and mentally sharp.

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