How well do you really know yourself? You might be surprised when you sit down and try to answer that question. Many times we think we know ourselves and what we want out of life, but when it comes right down to it our vision of ourselves is based on past experiences. What we need instead is to develop a sense of who we are right now so that we can be our best selves going forward.
What is Self-Awareness?
Being self-aware is a little like keeping a running inventory in your mind. Sure you need to know who you are as a whole person, but you also want to be aware of your strengths, weaknesses, and habits. You’ll also want to know what you like and what you dislike, and what does and what doesn’t motivate you. Your core values, those unwritten rules you live your life by, also need to be a part of your self-awareness inventory.
Above all, being self-aware means that you are able to live your life with self-confidence. You know who you are, what you want out of life and what you believe in. Because of this you’re able to live life to the fullest each and every moment.
Taking Your Self-Awareness Inventory
In order to become more self-aware, you need to know exactly who you are in this moment. These six tips will get you started on building your self-awareness and really learning who you are right now.
1. Figure out what your strong points are.
Then go to work on listing the weakest ones too. Chances are, if you’re like the majority of people, you have a tendency to focus on what you don’t do well. Instead, start getting to know yourself by recognizing what it is that you do well.
“Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.”
~ Malcolm Forbes
Yes, it’s important to know your weaknesses too so that you know what areas need work. But don’t sell your talents and your strengths short.
2. Take an inventory of your habits.
You know you have them, whether you want to admit it or not. We all do and recognizing what they are and how they affect you on a daily basis is a great way of getting to know yourself.
Do you smoke? Are you a nail-biter? Are you always on time or chronically late?
Again, make a list of all your good habits. Then make another list of what you would consider your bad habits. You’ll be surprised at what these lists can reveal about you.
The great thing is that bad habits are able to be changed. But you can’t make the changes unless you have enough self-awareness to recognize them in the first place.
3. Make a list of the things you like and dislike.
This is the easy one. Knowing what you like and what you don’t like is a very basic form of self-awareness. But have you ever taken the time to write it all down and admit that there are just some things that you’d really rather not spend your time doing? You may find that you spend a lot of time doing things you’d rather not because you don’t want to let other people down. That’s okay, but you also want to make sure that you spend time doing the things that speak to your heart too, now that you’re more aware of what they are.
Having them written down on a list that stares you in the face works well too. It’s a lot harder to ignore your likes when they’re in plain view.
4. Know what motivates you.
Knowing what motivates you is an important part of becoming more self-aware. It’s no secret that in order to live life to the fullest, we have to be able to motivate ourselves.
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”
~ Wayne Dyer
These words of wisdom from Dr. Wayne Dyer sum up the importance of knowing what motivates you. It’s always your choice, but you need to know what it is that you’re working toward and why you’re willing to do the work.
5. Write down your core values.
Core values are the building blocks of how you live your life. You may live according to religious or spiritual laws, or by an unwritten set of rules handed down from your parents and grandparents.
However you received them, these rules inform how you live your life, what’s important to you, and what defines your morals and ethics. You may not even think about them. A lot of the time, we don’t really think about our core values. They are such an integral part of how we live that we adhere to them without really thinking about it.
When you understand what your core values are, you are taking a big step in building up your self-awareness.
6. Decide what is relevant to your life right now.
This may seem like an easy decision but it’s not as simple as it looks. So much of what we think we know about ourselves is based on past versions of ourselves. One of the things that Geneen Roth writes about in the book “Women, Food and God” is that many of our ideas about who we are – our self-awareness – comes from outdated versions of ourselves. We make decisions based on fears of things that have happened in the past instead of on what is happening in our lives right now.
The best thing you can do to build up awareness of who you are right now is to go back through each list that you made from tips one through five and ask yourself, “Is this relevant to my life right now?”
7. Consider asking for honest feedback.
I say consider asking for feedback from people you trust, but only do this if you’re comfortable with hearing things you’d maybe rather not. After all, you are building your own self-awareness and just by definition that’s something that doesn’t really take into account other people’s opinions of you.
However, sometimes someone close to you can see patterns and habits that you might not be aware of. You can always add them to your list and either accept or reject their insights as you see fit.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
I’m always miserable on Mondays. It’s actually one of the reasons I stopped writing blog posts on Monday because I was just to agitated and miserable and it was starting to show in my writing.
I was talking to a friend about it and she remarked that I’m always really “testy” at the beginning of the week and then about Wednesday I start to perk up and by Friday I’m ready to work all weekend. Then the weekend comes and on Monday I’m miserable to be around again.
So my friend asked me, “Do you eat a lot of junk food on the weekend?”
I try to eat clean all week, but I’ll admit that I tend to fall off that wagon on the weekends. I sleep late, and eat a lot of fast food just because we’re usually out running around and it’s easier than coming home to cook. Once I made a conscious decision to not eat a lot of junk on the weekends, the result was a much healthier happier Ruthie on Mondays (and every other day).
If my friend hadn’t offered that insight, it might have taken me ages to figure out that my poor weekend eating habits were responsible for my unproductive Mondays (and sometimes Tuesdays).
Self-Awareness and Self-Confidence
There are many ways you can go about building your self-awareness. These tips only scratch the surface of what it means and the effect it can have on your life.
Building up your self-awareness also builds your self-confidence. You gain clarity about who you are and what you believe in, and this can only help as you live your life to the fullest.
“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.”
~ Mary Dunbar