1. Create Space for Yourself
Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”
Sometimes, when we have our heads down, and we’re immersed in our everyday lives, it’s hard to see what’s really going on. Life is busy, so if you want to become more self-aware, you have to create space for yourself.
I don’t necessarily mean a meditation room, although that might help.
What I mean is, you need to carve out time in your day to reflect on your life.
How are you feeling?
Are you stressed, worried, or upset? Are you filled with joy and passion? Or, are you somewhere in between? It’s important to touch base with your feelings every day, otherwise, your feelings can build and emerge in unpleasant ways.
What are you thinking about?
Do you have big problems but no time to think of solutions? Could things be going better in certain areas of your life?
What are you focused on?
What is getting the most of your time? Should that thing or those people be getting so much of your time? Are you drifting through life, or are you attacking your life plan with passion and energy?
Most people are far too busy running through the motions of everyday life that they forget to pause and reflect. But not you! You’re on a quest to become more self-aware.
Maybe you can reflect during an early morning walk or meditation. Perhaps you could reflect during an hour in the gym, on the treadmill, or on a hiking trail.
It really doesn’t matter where you create the space for yourself—all that matters is that you make the time.
I’ve tried meditation, and it doesn’t work for me. Instead, I tend to check in with myself the most while I’m mowing the lawn, jogging, lifting weights, or journaling. Those are the times it happens naturally for me. There’s just something about being engaged in repetitive activity that clears my mind.
Find what works for you and create some space in your life. You need it!
2. Practice Mindfulness
For me, this is a tough one!
Google’s Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
I’m bad about moving through life at hyper speed, fueled by copious amounts of coffee while trying to crush my goals as quickly as possible. Stopping to smell the roses every once in a while is just plain hard for me.
It’s easy to be so future-focused that you lose track of the present, but by creating space in our lives, we essentially carve out dedicated times to practice mindfulness.
During these times, it’s important to listen to your inner voice, tune into what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it, and to acknowledge and understand yourself better.
How many times have you been upset and had no idea why?
This has happened to me, but then, later on, when my mind became clear, it was easy to see why I was upset and what I needed to do about the situation.
But we can’t always wait until our mind clears on its own!
In today’s fast-paced environment, the time may never come on its own. We have to make time for it.
Find some space in your life and use it to practice mindfulness each day. Here’s a beginner guide to try: Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness
3. Keep a Journal
What better way to create some space for yourself and practice mindfulness than to develop a daily journaling habit?
I had no idea! Did you?
In addition to that, journaling can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, get to know yourself better, reduce overall stress, solve problems more effectively, and even resolve disagreements with others.
If it helps, think of journaling as practicing mindfulness on paper.
Take some quiet time to think about your inner world, how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and so on. While you’re analyzing your inner world, write down all of your thoughts as they occur to you. I call this a stream of consciousness.
If you can, do this at least once a day, either in the morning or in the evening. If you want to take your self-awareness to an even higher level, try journaling your observations every hour throughout the day.
According to the National Science Foundation, we have an average of 50,000 thoughts per day, most of which we are not self-aware enough to notice. Imagine if you took a little time to practice mindfulness and wrote some of those thoughts down.
4. Become an Excellent Listener
For the longest time, I absolutely did. As people were talking to me, I was trying to hold onto as many of my own thoughts, replies, and rebuttals as possible. Then, moments later, I couldn’t recall a single thing I had been told.
When you stop to listen to someone, your goal is to do a lot more than just hear their words better—you need to observe their tone, their body language, their emotions, and their attitude. You need to become acutely aware of how they feel and how you’re making them feel.
Instead of evaluating and judging what the other person is saying, connect with them, and listen and observe what they have to say. As you become a better listener to those around you, you will learn to listen to your inner voice better as well.
5. Seek New Perspectives About Yourself
Most of us think we have ourselves pretty figured out, don’t we? We spend more time with ourselves than with anyone else. We know all of our own intimate secrets, hopes, dreams, and guilty pleasures.
How could we not know ourselves inside and out? Well, I would argue that it’s tough to honestly know ourselves, at least entirely.
I think we often know ourselves as the person we aspire to be, not the person we are in the present.
It’s difficult to get pure, honest feedback free of bias and fluff, but by asking our friends, family, and coworkers for 360-degree feedback, we can gain a new perspective about ourselves that would be challenging to get on our own.
If you want to become truly self-aware, seek feedback from those you know and trust. The insights may surprise you, but the new perspective will be incredibly valuable.
6. Live and Breathe Personal Development
The last strategy I’ll leave you with for increasing your self-awareness is to consume as much personal development content as you can.
I love to listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, read books and blogs about leadership, mentorship, goal setting, high performance, building good habits, and so on. The more I dive into personal development, the more I learn about myself.
A year ago, I didn’t know about a scarcity mindset or risk aversion, let alone that I suffered from both. Now that I know I suffer from these things, I can work towards overcoming them in my life.
The more you learn about the world around you, the better you can begin to understand yourself, and that’s why self-awareness is so incredibly critical to success.
The impact that self-awareness has on success is undeniable, but mastering self-awareness is going to take some effort from you. Are you up for it? I think you are!
You’ve got this!