First thing into getting to know about the world and people around you is to know yourself. You can’t get a clear image on the world unless you are aware of your strengths, your weakness, your personal beliefs, perceptions, but also your needs, wants and motivations. Being in touch with your emotions is also important. In a nutshell, you need to be self-aware. The ability of introspection is also important.
The basics on self-awareness
The concept of self-awareness isn’t new and you may have heard about self-knowledge by now. Anyone in a position of power, whether it’s a business executive, a world leader or a manager, is quite familiar to the notion and the importance of being self-aware.
Some ask themselves what part of our brain lets us be self-aware and if we’re biologically designed to be self-aware.
V.S. Ramachandran suggested that the mirror neurons may provide the neurological basis of human self-awareness. He gave us an essay a few years ago (2009) where he explained that even though this type of neurons cannot simulate other people’s behavior, they may be turned “inward”, creating second-order representations or meta-representations of our earlier brain processes. This may very well be the neural basis of introspection, but also the reciprocity of self-awareness and other awareness. There’s no point into wondering ourselves which one was first.
What counts is the fact they did evolved together, enriching one another, only to give a mature representation of self that is so specific for modern human people.
We can’t separate the discussion about the self-awareness from “emotional intelligence” as it has a big in one’s personality. Most employers don’t rely anymore only on documents that’s inform on applicant’s intelligences and proficiency, but they are also interested in his skills and expertise. Emotional intelligence is important for most employers nowadays and self-awareness is one aspect of it.
The concept of self-awareness isn’t clear to everyone. We shouldn’t minimize this concept only to knowing who we are, as we also need to know what we have and what we lack.
In order to make it a bit clearer to you, here’s what a self-aware person is:
- Someone who acknowledges that he always has to learn
- Someone that know what is he good at and what not
- Someone that admits his mistakes, accepting his fault and also showing his apologies for the mistake
- Someone that knows that he doesn’t have the answer to everything nor has the solution to everything
- Someone that thinks before he acts, thinking about his actions are going to influence others too
- Someone that actually listens during a conversation, asking the right questions
- Someone that pays attention to other’s social tips and is able to “read the table”
Self-awareness isn’t related only to professionals and business people and all human should have it.
Why is Self-Awareness important?
You may have heard by now about the phrase “know thyself” and you may think you already do know yourself.
The deeper you’re going to look at you, the more things you may discover about yourself. If you’re doing it right or haven’t been doing right until now, you may even be surprised by the person that you’re going to find. If you’re getting to this point, congratulate yourself: you’re on the right track.
You may ask yourself why it’s so important to become self-aware. What are your benefits from knowing yourself? Maybe knowing a bit about yourself is enough. After all, we have the whole life ahead of us to really get into knowing our self, right? Would it be ok not to know everything?
Even though this opinion isn’t the worst that you could have, now that you’ve already started, maybe it’s better to keep on going.
Here are the reasons for which you should proceed the self-awareness today:
The main goal for introspection is self-improvement. You may not realize you need to change something about yourself until you discover what’s wrong or what you’re mission. The best way to come to this kind of discover is introspection. If you’re self-aware, you get to know and get your weakness, flaws and failings as well. The moment you discover them, you’re one step closer into adjusting and improving them.
The very first thing that you should do for controlling your life is to become self-aware. Knowing exactly what you want is going to help you create what you want. Your self-awareness is going to guide you and take you in the right direction. When you’re controlling your emotions, it’s clearer to you what should you focus on, what are your emotions and how much effort you should put into it. Setting your goals and accomplishing them is essential for your development.
- Defining your identity and individuality
There are many people that live their life without knowing precisely their goals, needs and even short-term objectives. Very often they found themselves undecided and unable to move forward. They don’t know exactly who are they, which is why it’s difficult to them to move toward something. Having a clear idea about yourself and your identity is going to give you confidence which is essential when making choices and decisions, when acting and communicating with other people. You need to know what interests you and what are your best qualities so that you can work from that. You get the strength to make some changes as you know what you need to improve. In the end, it’s what makes you one-of-a-kind and enjoy your life.
- Developing nice relationships
Whether it’s a personal or a professional relationships, developing a good and efficient relationship takes time and work. If you’re better into controlling your emotions, you have more chances to have good and efficient relationships. When you’re able to handle a relationship you’re a self-aware individual so you may easily adjust to any environment where you need to get in touch with other people.
A good leader is going to have high levels of self-awareness and it’s impossible to lead without it. When being self-aware gives you a sense of purpose and reality as a leader, making more open to people and able to trust people around you. This is what puts a leader in the best position to keep balance inside in the organization that he leads.
The application of the Johari Window in self-awareness
The Johari Window is an important tool in self-awareness and it’s very useful for getting a better understanding of the relationships with yourself and with others too. This tool is very reliable when analyzing self-awareness in order to improve it.
There are four regions (areas) in the Johari Window and they represent the Self:
- Open Area
This area relates to what one may know about himself and is also known by other people. This is the part that we all know as an “open book”. Everyone has some sort of idea about it. How you see yourself and how other see you may differ, as it’s important that you’re aware of it, along with the other people who know you.
- Blind area
This area refers to what people know about you, but you don’t know about yourself. It’s quite common for people to know something about you and for you to be entirely unaware of. It may happen that you feel you’re confident about yourself, whereas other get you as an arrogant person and simply full of yourself. It may also be that you never think of you as a leader, whereas other think that you’re just cut for it.
- Hidden area
This is the part that includes the things you know about yourself, while others don’t know. It’s the area that includes the things you keep private and don’t want to share with others, for various reasons. We’ve all heard about the people that live a “double life” that show an image to others, while keeping some parts of their lives completely to their own.
- Unknown area
As the name suggests, this area includes what you and the others don’t know about you. This is the part that nobody knows about, especially yourself. This part is going to show sooner or later, surprising a lot both you and the others around you.
Employees, managers and group of individuals are very often requested to accomplish the Johari Window, in order to get a better idea of their level of self-awareness. This is very common within the corporate organizations as they’re keen on developing employee’s personal development, developing efficient interpersonal relationship, improving of the communication skills or better teamwork and group dynamic.
How can you improve self-awareness?
Even though there are many books of self-help books that are supposed to teach you how to develop self-awareness, truth is that becoming self-aware isn’t something that you may learn in a formal setting or from reading some books.
You need to give time for developing self-awareness and to put a lot of work into it. You need to practice a lot and to pay attention to your own personality and behavior and how the external factors and forces have an influence on yourself.
- Know your weaknesses and strengths
You need to take a very good look at yourself and see the traits and characteristics that you see as your best assets. You also have to check for the weaknesses too.
It’s also important that you know what comes to you first and what you’re planning to get in life. What counts the most to you? What trumps everything to you?
Here are the steps you need to make for identifying your strengths and weaknesses:
- Pay attention
Observation is essential and you need to start with you. How do you react in some situations? How do you relate to others in certain situations? You may want to take a better look the other way around too. Have you noticed how people react to you? Their reaction to you tells you something about yourself. If people are acting cautiously around you, it may be because they think that you feel easily provoked. If your subordinates are quite around you, while they’re all cheerful the second you’re gone, it may be because they may feel you’re not easy to talk to.
- Write down
Making notes on your observation may be a good idea. After all, the journey of becoming self-aware is still a journey so it’s a good thing to write down what you’re going through. Note your emotions, thoughts, feelings and check them from time to time. Going over your notes is going to leave a mark and make the changes within yourself.
- Say “Yes” to new adventures
Going through new experiences may teach you new things about yourself. Life begins out of the comfort zone, remember? Try the unfamiliar experiences as you may respond in new and various ways that you didn’t even know about. Travelling is an easy way to discover new things about yourself. It may prove you’re an easy learner of foreign languages or to offer you the chance to start liking a lot history and culture.
- Take tests
You may find a great diversity of psychometric tests that may help you when developing your self-awareness. The results may point you what you need to change, in which areas you may need improvements.
The Predictive Index and Myers-Briggs are good examples.
Many people stay away from this type of tests as they feel like wasting time or are afraid they’re not going to like the results. They may also think that results can’t be trusted either.
Keep in mind that anything that is going to help you improve your personality and self-awareness is a win, in the end.
When you’re on the quest of improving your self-awareness, you need all the help that you can get. There are no right or wrong answers with this type of tests as they only serve as an assessment of your personality.
You also need to keep an open minded about these tests as they’re able to teach you something about yourself. Accepting the results is a big step into becoming self-aware.
- Get feed-back
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Get feed-back at work on regular basics
If you’re lucky enough to work in a company that has an efficient formal feedback process for your evaluation, make the best out of it. You may very well use the results to better assess your weaknesses and assets, but also to improve your relationships with others, for professional development and growth.
- Ask your friends and family
You need to know what others think of you so choose a family member or a friend that you know is going to be objective and true. Ask them what they think of your actions and yourself and…accept it. How you ask them is also important so choose your words wisely. Be ready to receive their opinions and try not to protest to their feedback. Take a deep breath, sit down and go through everything, giving a thought on what they just told you.
- Get some coaching
Coaching is a great method and quite popular within corporate settings as it helps people increase their self-awareness. Whenever you have the chance, don’t hesitate and take the chance for coaching by an external parts. Coaching gives you feedback from the coaches and you may use it for improving or doing the right changes.
This may be one of the most important steps that you could do. You should really listen every time you get feedback. Even though it’s a bit more challenging to accept in the beginning, especially if it’s not “good news”, try to resist your impulse and shut down. You should listen to what others have to say.
Self-awareness is the trait that anyone should have, no matter the position within an organization. You should start today as we all have the ability for self-awareness. We only need to improve it so we get wherever we dreamed to go.
- Pay attention to your inner voice
Here are some ways to do it:
This method may be simple and easy and you only need to inhale and exhale, as you’re focusing on your breathing. You may very well take it to another level: dim the lights in the room, close the windows, light some candles, sit down and close your eyes, while reflecting deeply.
The method depends a lot on you, on what makes you feel comfortable and gives the best results.
Some people even take day to day routines (chores, for instance) as an element of their meditative process.
Writing poetry, painting, dancing or spending some time with your pet may be efficient and get you in a reflective mood too. It’s all up to you.
- Yoga and tai chi
Healthy body, healthy mind and having them both is going to increase your chances for improving your self-awareness. Having good discipline about them is going to improve both your outlook and health, getting you to a higher level of self-awareness.