In my work as a coach, sometimes I come across people who are annoyed and frustrated with their world because they think they are not understood, respected, or appreciated. They feel they deserve better in life but do not understand, why they are not getting it. As a result, the quality of their everyday life and relationships suffers.
It may happen to any of us at some point of time or the other. However, if this is the constant state one is in, it is time to check one’s self-awareness, i.e., the ability to notice feelings, physical sensations, reactions, habits, behaviors, and thoughts. It determines how we manage ourselves and productively engage with others. So, there are two parts to self-awareness.
- Internal – represents how we see our values, passions, aspirations, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses, etc. This is the foundation of self-regulation and decision making. Most successful people are good at intentional living. Their high self-awareness allows them to create routines and habits that serve them well. They plan their distractions to enhance their well-being. They base their decisions on their aspirations and values rather than to please others or follow the latest fad.
- External – means understanding how other people view our actions and behaviors. People who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. They are better influencers in personal and professional lives. They have a better relationship with their teams and are considered more effective by the employees.
Here are some tips to improve self-awareness –
- Reflect – Anytime you are in a rut, reflect about it. Asking yourself questions about what might not be working well is one way to aid reflection. Psychologist Tasha Urich+ recommends self-evaluation using ‘what’ questions, for example,
a. What situations make me feel terrible at work? What do they have in common?
b. What steps do I need to take to do a better job in the future?
c. What can I do to work better with my boss?
d. What assumptions am I making?
e. What can I do differently next time?
f. What support do I need?
g. What can I do to have a better relationship with my children?
- Seek feedback – from people you love, work with, or lead to get a different perspective on how you show up. Choose people with whom you have good relationship credit so that they feel free to point out your blind spots. Also, keep in mind that you are not likely to feel good about their inputs but treat feedback like a gift and thank the provider.
- Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is being present in the moment and paying attention to yourself and your surroundings. It makes us aware of the inner state of our being by observing our thoughts and beliefs without being attached to them. Mindfulness practice often focuses on our breath. When your mind wanders away, note that this has happened and gently come back to noticing your breath again. Gradually you will learn to put distance between yourself and the constant commentary that goes on in your mind.
The process of self-awareness may be uncomfortable but empowers us to take control of our life and enhances the quality of our work and relationships. Do share your experiences with it.
+ Tasha Urich warns against using ‘why’ questions for self-evaluation as it focuses on the problem instead of solution