In order to live a successful life and meet your full potential you will need to develop the ability to be self-aware. But what does self-awareness mean? At its core, being self aware means that you can understand why you feel the way you do and make decisions that honour your needs. This can include personal goals, boundaries, and relationships. Becoming self-aware is not something that individuals are always inherently born with, instead it is a skill learned over time.

By being self aware you can move through life in a way that honours your individual needs and emotions. Though this is a learned skill some people may find that they come to it more naturally than others. The good news is that with practice and persistence you are able to improve your self-awareness. In this article we will look at ways in which you can improve your self awareness. Apply these tips to help with mindfulness and over time you may find that you are very in tune with your own needs.

Evaluate & Understand Your Desires

An important part of self-awareness is understanding why you want the things you do. From what you eat to the goals you set for yourself, there is always a why behind them. When we are not in tune with ourselves, we may make choices that are not truly suited towards what we truly want. Melissa Hartwig Urban says “You want a connection, not a cookie”. This simple phrase demonstrates that we may think we want one thing but if we dig down, we understand that, our desires may not be what they seem. 

Being self aware about the day to day decisions we make help us to ensure that we are acting for ourselves. By doing this we protect ourselves from self sabotaging behaviour and thoughts. It is important that we take time to think about the desires we have and the decisions we make. Next time you are considering doing something like watching TV instead of completing a project, evaluate if it is truly serving your needs. It might be, and that’s OK too. Try to actively participate in your own choices and not auto-pilot through day to day life.

Practice Doing Things for Yourself

Another way to improve self awareness is by actively doing things that make you feel good. Set aside social expectations and tune into what you enjoy doing. This might mean saying no to a social outing or trying something new alone. Listen to yourself and allow yourself to do things just for you. This may take practice if you are accustomed to meeting others needs before your own. It can be a balancing act but remember that you are worthy of doing things for you.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Allow yourself to feel and don’t tell yourself you shouldn’t feel the way you do. Many times, we choose to suppress how we fell in order to benefit others or because we don’t trust ourselves. Understand that there is always a reason why you feel the way you do. You are not stupid, shameful or unworthy for having feelings. This does not mean that you have to wear your heart on your sleeve and tell others how you feel if you don’t want to. Simply allowing yourself to feel and acknowledging your feelings can go a long way to improving your self awareness.

Understand Your Emotional Triggers

Understanding your personal emotional triggers for unwelcome feelings or stress is an important aspect of self awareness. By knowing how external factors affect you, you are better prepared to deal with situations that may come your way. If you have never given much thought to why you may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed identifying your triggers may help you greatly. But this aspect of self awareness can be tricky. Just as it is important to acknowledge your feelings it is also important to understand why you feel the way you do. Though it may take time to truly identify your emotional triggers use these tips below to help you get started;

  • Consider similarities between the times when you are feeling an emotion
  • Identify people or influencers in your life who make you feel less than or life you up
  • Acknowledge when a topic makes you uncomfortable

Emotional triggers can be complex, and you may find that you need outside support to identify and work through them. Never be afraid to ask for help. Consider reaching out to your support network, a therapist or even a life coach for help with breaking through emotional triggers. See our article “How To Find A Good Life Coach” for assistance in finding the right support person for you.

Reflect

If you are looking for the most simple and immediate way to improve self-awareness, then reflection is your go to action item. There is no way in which to improve self-awareness without thinking about yourself. Taking time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings is one of the most effective ways to increase your self-awareness. There are many ways in which you can engage in reflection, but may people find that journaling is a helpful and effective vessel for self reflection.

Journaling can be done in point form or through writing at length about how you feel. There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you know that journaling is not your thing there are other ways to effectively reflect. Set aside time in your day, morning or night, to reflect and check in with yourself about how you feel. Reflection opens the doors for understanding why we feel the way we do and allows us to make decisions that suit our needs.

Why You Need Self-Awareness

Self awareness allows us to act in a way that serves and honours our unique needs. By being self-aware we are able to not only live our most successful life, but also share our gifts with others. Self awareness helps to prevent burnout, stress and anxiety. By taking the time to get to know yourself, you are setting yourself up for success.