"Self-awareness is like great sex: everyone thinks they have a ton of it, but in reality no one knows what the fuck they're doing." -Mark Manson
Ha ha, nice one, Mark. But really, self-awareness is one of the most important psychological traits we can develop.
The benefits of heightened self-awareness extend to every facet of life - whether that's managing your emotions during conflict, better owning/understanding your weaknesses, or being realistic about what you can accomplish. Self-awareness helps us along every step of the way.
Harvard Business Review writer, Tasha Eurich, suggests there are two kinds of self-awareness -- INTERNAL and EXTERNAL.
INTERNAL self awareness is our own conscious knowledge of our character, feelings, motives, and desires.
EXTERNAL self-awareness relates to our ability to see understand how others perceive us.
Both are critically important. Here are 3 ideas to further develop your self-awareness.
Seek new experiences
We humans love to be comfortable. But the truth is, growth happens just beyond our comfort zones. One of the best ways to develop your emotional muscle is to seek new experiences.
The shifting of environments is one of my favorite ways to do this. Travel to new places is one surefire way to break patterns and habits and witness how you respond. Travel reminds us that we cannot control everything. And noticing how you handle this is incredible insight for your sense of self-awareness.
Are you constantly complaining about the heat? The bed? Are you obsessively seeking food that will suit your needs? Or are you responding to your environment rationally, allowing yourself to be stretched by the experience?
Travel isn't the only kind of new experience that deepens our self-understanding. We can do simple things, too. Take a new route home. Speak up in a meeting where you are normally quiet. Get coffee with someone you don't know well. Try a different dish at a restaurant where you always get the same thing.
Seeking new experiences allows us to see ourselves with new eyes. And, should we be self-aware enough to notice where we're struggling in this new experience, it gives us the opportunity to further develop our character.
Ask a trusted friend
One of my favorite exercises we do on the AWAKEN Retreat is reach out to friends to seek personal feedback for our own unfolding. It's wildly insightful.
The truth is, we cannot fully understand how others see us. But if you're lucky enough to have a close friend or two to have this conversation with, give it a go.
Decide to have an honest conversation where both people share. Come from a place of loving kindness. Create a list of questions together.
I suggest starting with uplifting questions:
What do you think are my strengths?
What do you come to me for?
How do I make you feel?
And then move to some of the harder ones:
Do you recognize an area of growth for me, and could you offer any advice?
Is there a time when I've made you feel bad and why was that?
Be thankful for these heart conversations with people you hold dear. If you cannot think of anyone to have this conversation with, it may be a sign that you need to develop more depth with the people in your life.
Deep relationships are priceless, allow the shallow ones to fade away.
What triggers you? What people? Behaviors? Environments?
Our triggers are our best teachers. They show us exactly where we still have room to grow. You don't need a special class or hours of meditation to get this information. Just take notice, what pisses you the hell off?
Is there a pattern to this aggravation? Is it frequently the same kind of person/thing?
As we develop, we learn, bit by bit, to not attach so strongly. Thus, our emotional response isn't near as escalated or lengthy. And this is how we develop grace and mental and emotional wellbeing.
But before we can get there, we have to see ourselves clearly. We have to catch ourselves either during or right after our internal (or external) battle, and notice: what is it in ME that sought this drama? This is what full ownership looks like. And where else do I do it in my life?
This takes radical courage and honesty. But damn, is it worth it. This is how we live with integrity and true self-awareness.
In a world where many are asleep, there is nothing more important than your AWAKENING.