First of all, to be able to improve self-awareness, one needs to be aware that there are five elements which constitute self-awareness. These elements consist of:-
- Self-Concept; how one perceives oneself. These are formed from personal experiences, what you believe your abilities are and if your self-concept is healthy, you are more likely to take on a challenge and also to achieve your goals.
- Thoughts; thoughts are married to emotions. In order to understand better your emotions, you need to first process your thoughts and understand these thoughts. I invite you to take note of your daily thoughts, what do you say about yourself and how do you talk about yourself with others in your daily chats. If these thoughts are mostly negative, reflect and try to make sense why these thoughts are that way.
- Feelings; be aware of how you feel when you say things about you or how you feel when others talk about you. Then reflect on what feelings are associated with thoughts and also feelings related to the lived experiences.
- Body; although a few people around you might notice however, sometimes certain emotions can create a physical response. Feelings can present as a facial expression, heart rate or even in your voice. Next time you feel this physical response, take some time to think where in your body you feel this response.
- Emotions; these are a very powerful factor when reacting to others. If you have a high level of emotional intelligence, you are able to recognise and accept the different states of emotions and hence, able to enhance relationships.
Once you’re aware of these concepts, you can process emotions and move past them. However, you can improve your self-awareness by means of the following 5 ways:-
- Seek new experiences – this can boost your self-awareness. It does not have to be something complicated but just something to get you out of your comfort zone. It can be a new hobby or cooking a new recipe, something that can help you discover new strengths and qualities that you have.
- Ask others for feedback about yourself – always ask someone you trust like a friend or a relative, about your behaviour or attitudes. Sometimes it is not easy to accept feedback but keep in mind that constructive feedback is not an attack but a means to reinforce positive ones and dismiss of the negative ones. This facilitates self-growth and self-development.
- Be clear on your values, question your beliefs and opinions – it is very important that you are clear on your values because these are the principles that guide you through your life. According to marriage and family therapist, Marcelle, J Craig, when you know your values, you know what you’re after in your life and what you’re not. If you’re not clear about your values, you might engage in unhealthy things. Craig adds that in order to clarify your values, you need to think and reflect on times when you were happy and empowered, to help you recognise what is meaningful to you. Also, question your beliefs and opinions that is, check if your behaviours stem from your thoughts. Give these the chance to grow or change. If you want to challenge your opinions, ask yourself ‘what is the origin of this and how is this beneficial for me or the people around me?’ This kind of questioning will allow to identify patterns.
- Reflect on what triggers negative thoughts – what makes you sad, mad, or stressed? Ask these questions to reflect on what triggers your negative thoughts. Triggers can include situations or even people who might be the reason which trigger the worst in you. Being aware of these, helps you to become conscious on how to respond to these circumstances especially if these are not in your control. Furthermore, if these feelings are triggered by people ask, what did the person say or do to make me feel and react in this way? You can then use this to either possibly avoid the situation or choose not to be in the company of that person, to live a peaceful life.
- Journaling – write a journal where you include your daily negative thoughts, lived experiences and positive thoughts. There is no rules how to write a journal. You can choose to write one to two lines a day about the above thoughts or even a whole page. Go with the flow and do as you wish in the journal. The intent behind this is to increase self-awareness and grow. As you reread through your journal you will become aware of certain patterns or what really makes you. It’s a way of how you can challenge your thoughts.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Rachel Osmond is a Family Therapist with Willingness who works with individuals, couples and families. She also has experience with children and adolescents.
Nunez, K. (2021). 6 Practical ways to become more self-aware. Real Simple. Retrieved on 15th September, 2021 from https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/emotional-health/how-to-be-self-awareSexton, J. (2019). The 5 elements of self-awareness. Retrieved on the 13th September, 2021 from https://www.yourtrainingprovider.com/the-5-elements-of-self-awareness/