Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 6, 2020

What Is Self Awareness (And How to Increase Yours)

What Is Self Awareness (And How to Increase Yours)

What is self awareness?

As it turns out, self awareness can mean many different things, depending on who you ask.

In this article, we will look into the true meaning of self awareness, why it is so important to everyone of us, and what you can do to increase your self awareness to live a happy and successful life.

What Is Self Awareness?

Self awareness could be as simple as getting in touch with, and then understanding your thoughts and feelings. For some, it might mean connecting with your innermost beliefs and values and then living a life that is congruent with those values.

For people focused more on professional development, self awareness is understanding their strengths, weaknesses, personality types, and leadership styles.

According to Google’s Dictionary, self-awareness is:

“Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”

According to Psychology Today, self-awareness:[1]

“involves monitoring our inner worlds, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. It is important, because it’s a major mechanism influencing personal development.”

Since publishing his book, Emotional Intelligence in 1995, Daniel Goleman’s idea of Emotional Intelligence (a.k.a. EQ or EI) and self-awareness have taken the world by storm. And as you can see, there are a wide array of meanings, definitions, and interpretations.

The two larger questions, in my mind, are 1) Why does self-awareness matter so much and 2) How can we become more self-aware in our lives?

Those are the two questions we’re going to dive into today.

Why Does Self-Awareness Matter?

In a study undertaken by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University, 72 executives at public and private companies ranging from $50 million in revenue to $5 billion in revenue were studied. Here’s what the study found:[2]

“The executives most likely to deliver good bottom line results are actually self-aware leaders who are especially good at working with individuals and in teams.” The study went on to say, “A high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.”

So there it is!

Higher self awareness equates to higher levels of success. But this goes beyond our professional lives—it also applies to our personal lives.

In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman saw emotional intelligence as a vital factor in success, especially for children. He proposed that emotional intelligence would not only improve their learning abilities, it would also help them succeed in school by reducing or eliminating some of the most distracting and harmful behavioral problems.[3]

Advertising

Since 1995, there have been countless studies on self-awareness and EQ as a whole. Some have shown that improved EQ could help college students succeed, both academically and socially.

Other findings have shown that self-awareness can improve communication and reduce conflict in relationships, especially in married couples.[4]

As you dive into the rabbit hole of research online, you’ll find that self-awareness affects everything you do. It affects your leadership, your relationships, how you treat others, how you communicate, what you expect of people, how you respond to situations, and so much more.

Self awareness is, without a doubt, a critical skill that everyone should seek to improve upon.

And here comes the good news! Self-awareness is something you can learn.

In 2009, Delphine Nelis and colleagues conducted a controlled experiment to test whether or not it’s possible to increase Emotional Intelligence.

Participants of the experimental group received a brief empirically-derived EI training while control participants continued to live normally. At the end of the experiment, they proved that improving emotional intelligence is possible.[5]

How to Become More Self-Aware

If I’ve done my job correctly, you should be 100 percent sold on the importance of self-awareness, and you should be hungry to know how to improve on this area of your life.

That’s great because I have six strategies to help you do just that.

1. Create Space for Yourself

Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”

Sometimes, when we have our heads down, and we’re immersed in our everyday lives, it’s hard to see what’s really going on. Life is busy, so if you want to become more self-aware, you have to create space for yourself.

I don’t necessarily mean a meditation room, although that might help.

What I mean is, you need to carve out time in your day to reflect on your life:

How are you feeling?

Are you stressed, worried, or upset? Are you filled with joy and passion? Or, are you somewhere in between? It’s important to touch base with your feelings every day; otherwise your feelings can build and emerge in unpleasant ways.

What are you thinking about?

Do you have big problems but no time to think of solutions? Could things be going better in certain areas of your life?

Advertising

What are you focused on?

What is getting the most of your time? Should that thing or those people be getting so much of your time? Are you drifting through life, or are you attacking your life plan with passion and energy?

Most people are far too busy running through the motions of everyday life that they forget to pause and reflect. But not you! You’re on a quest to become more self-aware.

Maybe you can reflect during an early morning walk or meditation. Perhaps you could reflect during an hour in the gym, on the treadmill, or on a hiking trail.

It really doesn’t matter where you create the space for yourself—all that matter is that you make the time.

I’ve tried meditation, and it doesn’t work for me. Instead, I tend to check in with myself the most while I’m mowing the lawn, jogging, lifting weights, or journaling. Those are the times it happens naturally for me. There’s just something about being engaged in repetitive activity that clears my mind.

Find what works for you and create some space in your life. You need it!

2. Practice Mindfulness

For me, this is a tough one!

Google’s Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”

I’m bad about moving through life at hyper speed, fueled by copious amounts of coffee while trying to crush my goals as quickly as possible. Stopping to smell the roses every once in a while is just plain hard for me.

It’s easy to be so future-focused that you lose track of the present, but by creating space in our lives, we essentially carve out dedicated times to practice mindfulness.

During these times, it’s important to listen to your inner voice, tune into what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it, and to acknowledge and understand yourself better.

How many times have you been upset and had no idea why?

This has happened to me, but then later on, when my mind became clear, it was easy to see why I was upset and what I needed to do about the situation. But we can’t always wait until our mind clears on its own!

In today’s fast-paced environment, the time may never come on its own. We have to make time for it.

Find some space in your life and use it to practice mindfulness each day. Here’s a beginner guide to try: Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness

3. Keep a Journal

What better way to create some space for yourself and practice mindfulness than to develop a daily journaling habit?

Advertising

According to Psych Central,[6]

“The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. […] In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.”

I had no idea! Did you?

In addition to that, journaling can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, get to know yourself better, reduce overall stress, solve problems more effectively, and even resolve disagreements with others.

If it helps, think of journaling as practicing mindfulness on paper.

Take some quiet time to think about your inner world, how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and so on. While you’re analyzing your inner world, write down all of your thoughts as they occur to you. I call this a stream of consciousness.

If you can, do this at least once a day, either in the morning or in the evening. If you want to take your self-awareness to an even higher level, try journaling your observations every hour throughout the day.

According to the National Science Foundation, we have an average of 50,000 thoughts per day, most of which we are not self-aware enough to notice.[7] Imagine if you took a little time to practice mindfulness and wrote some of those thoughts down.

4. Become an Excellent Listener

Stephen R. Covey, the author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, once said,

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Do you fall into that category?

For the longest time, I absolutely did. As people were talking to me, I was trying to hold onto as many of my own thoughts, replies, and rebuttals as possible. Then, moments later, I couldn’t recall a single thing I had been told.

A couple of years ago, I became aware of this phenomenon when I read John Maxwell’s Becoming a Person of Influence. There was an entire chapter on listening, and I learned that I was a terrible listener!

When you stop to listen to someone, your goal is to do a lot more than just hear their words better—you need to observe their tone, their body language, their emotions, and their attitude. You need to become acutely aware of how they feel and how you’re making them feel.

Instead of evaluating and judging what the other person is saying, connect with them, and listen and observe what they have to say. As you become a better listener to those around you, you will learn to listen to your inner voice better as well.

5. Seek New Perspectives About Yourself

Most of us think we have ourselves pretty figured out, don’t we? We spend more time with ourselves than with anyone else. We know all of our own intimate secrets, hopes, dreams, and guilty pleasures.

How could we not know ourselves inside and out? Well, I would argue that it’s tough to honestly know ourselves, at least entirely.

Advertising

Here’s why:

I think we often know ourselves as the person we aspire to be, not the person we are in the present.

My favorite show of all time is NBC’s The Office. In one episode, Michael Scott is introducing a new salesman to the staff. The new salesman is highly skilled, attractive, charming, and so on. Michael says this to his team:[8]

“I respect him, because he reminds me of somebody. Can anybody guess who that is?”

The staff takes their round of incorrect guesses, and Michael responds, “No, me. Right? Sorta like, a little younger version of me?”

In his eyes, he and the new guy were very similar, but Oscar replies, “It’s hard to judge ourselves accurately isn’t it.”

Oscar sees Michael through a completely different lens than Michael sees himself. And if you’ve seen the show, Oscar’s perspective is dead on.

It’s difficult to get pure, honest feedback free of bias and fluff, but by asking our friends, family, and coworkers for 360-degree feedback, we can gain a new perspective about ourselves that would be challenging to get on our own.

If you want to become truly self-aware, seek feedback from those you know and trust. The insights may surprise you, but the new perspective will be incredibly valuable.

6. Live and Breathe Personal Development

The last strategy I’ll leave you with for increasing your self-awareness is to consume as much personal development content as you can.

I love to listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, read books and blogs about leadership, mentorship, goal setting, high performance, building good habits, and so on. The more I dive into personal development, the more I learn about myself.

A year ago, I didn’t know about scarcity mindset or risk aversion, let alone that I suffered from both. Now that I know I suffer from these things, I can work towards overcoming them in my life.

The more you learn about the world around you, the better you can begin to understand yourself, and that’s why self-awareness is so incredibly critical to success.

Final Thoughts

The impact that self awareness has on success is undeniable, but mastering self-awareness is going to take some effort from you. Are you up for it? I think you are!

You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: What Is Self-Awareness, and How Do You Get It?
[2] American Management Association: New Study Shows Nice Guys Finish First
[3] Positive Psychology Program: What is Emotional Intelligence? +18 Ways To Improve It
[4] Fatherly: How to Become More Self-Aware in Your Marriage
[5] Delphine Nelis: Increasing emotional intelligence: (How) is it possible?
[6] Psych Central: The Health Benefits of Journaling
[7] National Science Foundation: Thoughts
[8] The Official Quotes: The Sting

More by this author

Austin Bollinger

Austin is the founder, blogger, and podcast host at Daily New Years. He's on a mission to help people identify, set, and crush their goals.

What Is Self Awareness (And How to Increase Yours) What Is Self-Actualization? 13 Traits of Self-Actualized People How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong The Ultimate List of 29 Goals for Living a Fulfilling Life

Trending in Mental Strength

1 30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want 2 Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again 3 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness 4 How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness 5 How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 27, 2020

30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

The weather will always change. Technology will always change. Trends will always change. We will always change.

In a world that is constantly evolving and taking new forms, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to make sense of this thing called life.

One of the things that rarely changes in this world though and what can provide a guiding light for you throughout your life is your core values. This article will provide you with a core values list of 30 incredible values to adopt and use when all else seems to be changing.

What Are Core Values?

Core values are principles or beliefs that you hold most dear and that are of central importance in your life. When everything around you is changing, when the world is difficult to understand, and when you are riding up and down the emotion rollercoaster, your core values will always be there for you.

Why Are Core Values Important?

Core values are important because they act like a compass to help you lead the amazing life that you want, no matter where you find yourself in this world.

Not only that, having the right core values can improve your decision-making, your productivity, your achievements and perhaps most importantly, your ability to love and be loved. They’re kind of a big deal. And it isn’t just us saying this, studies[1] have shown core values to have a whole host of other benefits.

30 Best Core Values to Live by

You might already have a few core values in mind or in your heart which is great. If you need some more ideas or haven’t really thought about your core values until now, here are our 30 favourite core values that you can adopt right now.

1. Acceptance

The ability to accept what you can control and what you can’t control. Being able to understand that on some days you are the hammer, and other days you are the nail. With acceptance as a core value, you can build either way and be happy while doing it.

2. Adaptability

Life is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball and if you aren’t ready for them, you are going to strikeout. Your life and the life of those you surround yourself with are far too complex to confine yourself to one mould.

Be adaptable and ready and willing to change when you need to.

3. Awareness

Awareness is one of the best core values that you can adopt. Period. Awareness means paying attention to yourself, to others, to the world around you, to emotions, to situations. It means being able to see everyone and everything clearly – most importantly yourself.

4. Balance

There are going to be times when you need to sprint in life, and other times when you are going to need to slow down. The yin and the yang.

Balance is one of the most important core values in many ancient cultures because it reflects nature for what it truly is: perfectly balanced and able to bend, rather than break.

5. Calmness

As well as being a sublime state of mind, many people forget that calm is a simple decision to make.

Advertising

You can be calm in any situation should you allow yourself to be. No amount of angry drivers, long queues or frustrating technology can penetrate you when you adopt calmness as a core value.

6. Community

Every one of us is a social creature, whether we believe it or not, and community has been a key core value for us as a species for thousands of years.

We are hard-wired to socialize; to eat, drink, gossip, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, give and receive amongst ourselves. Community also enhances the effect of other core values on this list, such as creativity.[2]

7. Compassion

Compassion is taking the time to understand the suffering of others and hopefully, being able to do something about it. There is a lot of struggle and suffering that can be alleviated in the world; with a core value like compassion you might be able to do help your fellow humans in some meaningful way.

8. Creativity

With technology taking most of the administrative jobs, creative people are going to be leading us into the future.

Someone who cherishes creativity is able to think up new and big ideas, see things that other people can’t and see the world around them through their own lens, not somebody else’s.

9. Discipline

Discipline will lead you to the life that you want, should you adopt it as a core value.

“Discipline Equals Freedom” is a term popularised by ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and what it means is that if you can be disciplined in the right things, you will be free in the right things too.

Discipline to workout means more freedom in your body as you age. Discipline to save means more freedom with your time and money in the long-term. And so it goes…

10. Empathy

There is perhaps no greater value on this list that will connect you deeper to not just the closest people in your life but to complete strangers too.

Practising empathy requires the understanding that other people have a nagging voice in their own head, just like you do. That they have a worldview different to yours based on their experiences. And that’s ok. It’s not easy to adopt empathy as a core value, but it is certainly worth it.

11. Freedom

Freedom comes in many forms and that is why it is one of the ultimate core values to have. The freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to live on your own terms, freedom to love and be loved.

If freedom becomes a core value of yours, watch how your life changes for the better.

12. Gratitude

Gratitude provides a powerful perspective shift whenever you feel yourself get into a rut.

Advertising

You can become grateful for the big things like having shelter, food and great people in your life. You can also become grateful for the small things like the cup of coffee that you just drank or the soft sheets on your bed.

13. Happiness

Happiness is a powerful core value and is not just restricted to your own happiness but also friends and family.

When happiness guides your decision-making rather than superficial things like money and status, you will find yourself in a much more satisfying position than if you chase other people’s idea of happiness.

14. Health

They say that a healthy man has a lot of dreams and wishes whereas a sick man only has one – to be able to get out of bed.

Health is the precursor to every other core value on this list; if you don’t have your health, you can’t do much else until you do. Because of this, health has to be a core value in your life.

15. Humility

Humility

is the antidote to arrogance and selfishness and is a value to adopt if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. It is said that you are never as good or as bad as people say you are.

Humility recognizes this and keeps you moving towards your goal, no matter what anyone else says.

16. Innovation

The act of innovation involves taking one existing thing and making it better. Although images of whacky car designs and complicated technology can spring to mind when thinking about innovation, it doesn’t have to be that grandiose.

Simply seeing something small and making it better in your own life is enough to make a world of difference.

17. Knowledge

Knowledge is power. Not power in the 14th-century medieval banker-sense but in the power to change your own life-sense.

Knowledge about yourself, others and the world allows you to understand everything that you see a bit better. When you see things for what they are, you can act accordingly and get to where you want to be.

18. Leadership

It take guts, determination, confidence and humility to lead. All of these qualities are both rare and admirable and are the reason why leadership is such an excellent core value.

The future is dark and unknown but also full of hidden treasures. We need someone to lead us, will it be you?

Advertising

19. Love

It can be argued that all of the core values on this list can be tied together by the one, all-encompassing value of Love.

When you value love deeply and try to show it in everything that you do, you make your world and the world of others a much better place.

20. Moderation

Forget this diet, that diet, eating there, eating then, working out before coffee or always in the afternoon. It’s all noise that works for some people some of the time – moderation is the key.

Not acting in moderation can also have some damaging consequences, especially for your health.[3] What works well for all people is everything in moderation.

Of course, life should be fun too so even ‘everything in moderation’, should be in moderation.

21. Peace

Peace is another core value that takes years of practice to perfect. However, its rewards are boundless with both the journey and destination full of rewards.

Peace enables clear decision-making, freedom in thoughts and actions as well as providing a deep understanding of the special life that you live.

22. Purpose

Purpose can be doubled up with ‘meaning’ as these are two values that provide the drive in any endeavour that you might pursue.

Purpose is what gets you out of bed every morning, it is why you sacrifice what you sacrifice and often entails something bigger than yourself. If you don’t have a purpose, it is unlikely that you will find much meaning in your life.

23. Responsibility

Nobody likes having to take the dog on a walk, having to clean the dishes or do things that they are reluctantly responsible for. However, responsibility can actually be an awesome way to add meaning and value to your life.

When other people depend on you and you fulfil your role as provider, not only are they better off but you get the satisfaction that comes along with it too.

24. Service

Similar to the responsibility point above, when you adopt service as a core value, you will have very little time to wallow in any self-pity, anxiety or existential angst because you will be busy making the world a better place.

Funnily enough, by serving others, many people find that they themselves are internally served with feelings of satisfaction and contentment.

25. Spirituality

Of course, there is the importance of physical health, mental health and emotional health, but spiritual health is just as important.

Advertising

Spirituality has nothing to do with religion, it simply means taking the time to listen to your body, to watch your thoughts, to connect with and appreciate the world and the universe that you find yourself in.

26. Trust

Trust is a core value on this list because it requires many other difficult skills that also help to develop you as a person.

To be able to trust and be trusted, you need strong relationships, an ounce of risk, a healthy dose of vulnerability and a smidge of humility. All of this creates a recipe for a very positive life with trust at the centre.

27. Understanding

Understanding comes from a place of acceptance of what is, not what should be or could be. It is the ability to recognise someone else’s viewpoint without trying to change it. It is learning that it is useless to fight against the way the world is and other people are, and to learn to dance with them instead.

28. Wealth

Not in the monetary sense but in the ‘having everything that you need sense’. Someone who is truly wealthy possesses great relationships, plenty of freedom, a life filled with joy as well as many of the other values on this list.

Adopt wealth as a core value and it will act as a magnet to other incredible things.

29. Wisdom

Contrary to popular belief, wisdom does not come with age but rather, experience. There are many young people with more wisdom than the oldest people that you know. What makes someone wise is their ability to see broadly and clearly, to use good judgement and to be decisive when necessary.

Wisdom is something that we all should seek.

30. Wonder

The final value on this list is wonder and it is the ideal place to finish.

Wonder is thinking about the possibility of what comes next, dreaming about how you and things could be better, pushing your own boundaries and what you think you are capable of each day.

Wonder is practical dreaming, and you should start right away.

Final Thoughts

Now you have a good idea of some of the core values that you can adopt, it’s time to not only decide which ones you like the best but also integrate and use them in your daily life.

Core values are designed to guide your decisions in your most difficult moments. Now you have everything you need to go and live the life that you want to live!

More About Self-Discovery

Featured photo credit: AndriyKo Podilnyk via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next