Self-Awareness: The Key to Realizing Your Potential
READING TIME: 4 MINUTES
You’ve likely heard that being self-aware assures success and happiness. But really, what is self-awareness? It sounds so intangible. What are the signs that someone is self-aware? And, most importantly, are there concrete steps to take to develop and refine one’s self-awareness?
This blog delves into those questions, and more, as we touch on self-awareness misconceptions. Our focus then shifts to why self-awareness matters, particularly because of its relationship with satisfaction and realizing your potential.
We even include practical tips for enhancing your self-awareness today. That’s right, beginning while you are in the midst of reading our blog!
Looking at Self-Awareness from the Inside and Out
One rule of thumb related to self-awareness is to look at yourself inside and out. Much the same can be said about the concept of self-awareness! With that, let’s consider its relevance to self, others, and life in general.
Root Out and Refute the Misconceptions
To begin, let’s correct some of the misconceptions associated with self-awareness. As you read on in the blog, you’ll see why we’ve decided to set the record straight:
- Your interest in being self-aware does not mean you are selfish or narcissistic.
- Engaging in self-awareness doesn’t require you to dredge up the past.
- Getting to know yourself better is far from boring. Secret’s out! It’s much more interesting than some let on.
- Becoming self-aware is never a waste of time. In fact, it’s one of the best time investments you’ll ever make.
- It’s never too late to begin. Please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Why Self-Awareness Matters
Being aware of your emotions, moods, stressors, and reactions or responses helps to navigate life, day-by-day. Because of that, being self-aware improves your potential for self-actualization and contentment.
- High self-awareness is associated with overall success. One sign is a person’s ability to recognize a good opportunity when one appears.
- It’s reported that those who are self-aware have a positive outlook and sound social-emotional wellbeing.
- Consider that a robust level of self-awareness is related to being non-judgmental with self and others. This leads to compassion.
- Each of the above factors contributes to having open, meaningful relationships with other people.
Steps to Improve Self-Awareness
Increasing one’s level of self-awareness means engaging our inner world, and then relating that to our outer world. Our relationships with others, the roles we fulfill at home, at work, and in the community. Let’s begin with our awareness with self.
Self-awareness involves monitoring, or keeping track, of what makes you tick. This internal self-awareness includes your values, beliefs, aspirations, joys, and stressors. The better we are in touch with ourselves, the more confident we are about:
- Making decisions, both large and small, such as:
- What’s for supper?
- Is this the right job for me? Or, the best degree program?
- Maybe it’s best to wait another year before taking a dream vacation.
- Looking at any of the above and making some changes.
- Perhaps with maturity you’ve outgrown some values you learned as a child.
- You begin to realize that you worry and ruminate about stuff over which you have no control. Zero. Zip. Ugh.
- Maybe it’s time for more joy and simple pleasures!
- Internal awareness action: Set aside a few quiet minutes to:
- Take some slow breaths.
- Think of something simple that brings you joy.
- Focus on this point of joy as you breathe.
- After a few breaths, check in with how you feel physically and emotionally.
- You have just given yourself the gift of mindful moments!
Reflecting on our interactions with others is the external side of self-awareness. This is increasingly influenced by our growing internal self-awareness. Despite that, it is easy to be blind to aspects of how we affect, or come across to, people in various parts of our life. To get a fair and balanced view of your effect on others, including areas to improve:
- Get the opinions of friends who have your best interest at heart.
- Review past work and school performance reviews.
- Practice active listening and observe people’s responses. Do the same with expressing sincere gratitude.
- Examine your assets and limitations and how these affect relationships.
What Have You Learned?
As you reflect on self-awareness from internal and external points of view, be sure to keep track of your observations.
- Make journal notes.
- Create a collage of images—selfies, things that bring you joy, times with friends, and so on.
- Record your thoughts…that’s right, as in audio. Then listen to it as a means of review.
- Keep track of your progress. Celebrate! Don’t hold back. Spread the joy.
We’ve just given you a few tips for taking actions to boost self-awareness. Here are others to try:
- Spend time in nature. That can include plants as well as trees, and greenways as well as forests.
- Befriend relaxation methods—breathwork, mindful movement, and unplugging periodically during the day and before bed. These help to attune and retune the self.
Positive self-awareness is aligned with success, a positive outlook, satisfaction, and compassion. One develops self-awareness from internal and external perspectives, involving interactions and relationships with self and others. Lastly, there are simple, daily actions to take to develop self-awareness, including breathwork, mindfulness, and active listening.