Since deciding to focus my counseling and coaching on the importance of self-awareness, I get asked this question frequently. I explain that self-awareness is the first step in creating the life you want. Knowing yourself involves identifying the different aspects of who you are. Human beings are multifaceted. Developing self-awareness is to understand what drives you to do the things you do. It’s tuning into your energy. Being aware of how you feel, knowing your personality, your wounds, your values, your needs and your distractions. It takes time and intentionality to pay attention to all of these areas. It is true that a little introspection -a little pondering- will go a long way. Paying attention to your life means telling the truth, both to yourself and others. I can’t stress how important it is to live a fulfilled life.
So, what is self-awareness?
It is having a clear perception of your personality, values, needs, habits, and emotions. It also includes your understanding of other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them. Having self-awareness allows you to see where your thoughts and emotions are guiding you. It enables you to know yourself well enough to control your feelings and behaviors as well as enhance your life and your relationships.
So, what is involved in self-awareness?
- Values: Your core, personal values are what drive your actions. Whether we are consciously aware of them or not, we have a number of personal values. And these values are consistent and guide most, if not all, of our decisions. Your values are the qualities which are most important to you.
Examples of some of the values that could be guiding your life include – Achievement. Adventure. Cooperation. Family. Friends. Kindness. Helping Others, and Spirituality. When you are aware of your values and living according to them, you are more likely to accomplish what you deem is most important. And this will bring more fulfillment and depth to your life.
- Emotional Needs: These are the psychological needs that drive behavior. When not met, they produce stress and drain your energy. Researchers, such as Maslow, identified common behaviors driven by our emotional and psychological needs. The need for affection, self-esteem, belonging, purpose, self-actualization, and power and control all fall into this category. They are your common motivators behind the decisions and actions you take. Understanding the needs which are the strongest in you allows you to best manage yourself and your relationships.
For example, let’s say you have a strong need for belonging – you may find yourself avoiding conflict and never voicing your opinion, thus you can stay in the familiar place of belonging. This need may produce happiness and satisfaction however, if belonging is too important and the environment is toxic, the emotional need for belonging can lead to lack of fulfillment, anxiety and depression. Self-awareness is vital for understanding your emotional needs and managing these needs in a healthy manner.
- Lifestyle: Your lifestyle is the manner you live routinely and often automatically. They are habits you do daily. You want to live a certain way so you customize your life to live that way. By choosing work, activities, and relationships that honor your values, you find you are living the aware life. But, sometimes we choose habits that decrease our fulfillment and relationships effectiveness. For example, if you routinely make important decisions without consulting your spouse – he may not be compliant with those decisions. He may not just “go along” with what you decide or even worse it may build a quiet resentment inside him that will spill out in a wrath one day.
- Emotional Awareness: To have an understanding of your feelings, what causes them, and how they impact your thoughts and actions is emotional awareness. Often we experience triggers that engage certain emotions and may react before we even know the cause. Understanding your emotions is powerful. It helps you calm yourself when you need to; figure out why spending time with a certain friend is draining your energy, or why the comment from your boss triggered such a strong response. The more emotional awareness you have, the greater control and management of your emotions you will have.
The truth is that almost any moment offers you an opportunity to live out your purpose and reinvent your soul. Spending a little time on self-discovery will uncover answers to mysteries you may have never known existed yet where in control of how you live your daily life.
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