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Published on October 4, 2019

How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person

How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person

On a scale of 1-10, how self-aware do you think you are?

If you don’t know how to answer this question, you aren’t alone. One study estimates that only 10-15% of people are truly self-aware.[1]

If self-awareness is so important, why do so many people struggle with it, let alone understand what it means?

A big reason is because we live in a world where we are conditioned to operate on autopilot.

This busy mindset doesn’t leave room for much self-reflection and introspection. By not taking the time to connect with ourselves, we stop paying attention to what is going on internally. As you can imagine, this can be a recipe for an emotional disaster.

What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is the foundation for personal growth. It involves understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick.[2]

If you want to strive to be a better person, you need to get intimate with yourself, meaning you’ve got to know who you are and who you are not. Moreover, you’ve got to be able to accurately monitor your inner world, as well as accept who you are with an open heart.

This is where a lot of people get stuck.

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It takes courage to go deep with yourself and look at messy emotions that you don’t necessarily want to acknowledge, let alone work on. Let’s face it… growth isn’t always pretty. In fact, it sometimes feels like an uphill climb. However, it is the one thing that is required if you want to level up your life and become more of who you want to be.

“Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.” — Lawrence Bossidy

The benefits of self-awareness are far-reaching, some of which include, greater empathy and listening skills, improved critical-thinking skills and decision making, strengthened relationships, and enhanced leadership capabilities and capacity.[3]

How Do You Know If You Are Self-Aware?

Many people think that self-awareness is this grandiose skill that only super smart people understand. This is far from true. If you have fallen victim to this type of thinking, I want to share some signs that you may be more self-aware than you actually think you are.

You’re Unapologetically Yourself

If you aren’t afraid to speak your truth, for fear that others won’t accept you for who you are, the chances are you’ve got a high level of self-awareness.

Self-aware people live from a place of integrity. They are unapologetically themselves, in the sense that they don’t allow the noise of others’ judgments to veer them off track. In other words, they know how to stay in their own lane.

You’re a Master of Your Emotions

When life doesn’t go your way, self-aware people don’t react and throw in the towel. They understand that irrational behaviors only make you spiral into a negative hole. Hence, they stop and think before they respond to challenges.

They know that if they don’t master their emotions, their emotions will master them. By becoming aware of their emotions, they are able to maintain a sense of clarity and peace of mind, no matter what is going on in their environment.

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You Listen to Yourself

Self-aware individuals pride themselves on their ability to pay attention and tune into what is happening inside of them. Your intuition rarely ever lies.

I have yet to meet anyone who has said to me, “My gut is a liar.” Self-aware people listen to what their gut tells them. When something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. By trusting the messages or feelings that they are receiving, self-aware people are better able to make decisions that positively influence their lives.

You’ve Got Strong Boundaries

Self-aware people don’t let others walk all over them. They know that they can’t be all things for all people, which is why they establish strong boundaries with others.

Setting a boundary is the ability to recognize the need for a healthy separation between your thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of others.[4]

By taking care of their emotional needs first, self-aware people are better able to take care of themselves.

How to Become Self-Aware

Becoming self-aware is the first step in the creation of your ideal future. It’s the personal commitment to yourself that you are ready and willing to upgrade your current reality. Once you are more aware of your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, you become empowered to make changes that serve your highest self.

1. Keep a Journal

One of the most powerful tools for building self-awareness is through journaling. This is a great way to get to connect with your inner world on a deeper level and communicate with any subconscious feelings you might be overlooking.

The act of writing provides a space for unexpressed feelings to be acknowledged. The question is…. what do you write about? I would suggest that you focus on one area of your life where you currently feel stuck.

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At the beginning of each day, do a brain dump and express, in writing, all of the random things that you’ve been thinking about. This approach has the potential for getting your creative juices flowing and reduces the influence of your rational thoughts.[5]

2. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can help you fully experience the totality of your emotions. When you are mindful, you have greater control over your emotional self. In turn, you will feel more calm and less stress. This quiet time is a perfect opportunity to reflect on your feelings in the present moment.

Increased mindfulness influences our ability to think about our choices, as well as our ability to experience pleasure, reduce emotional reactivity and increase attention.[6]

Your body is always communicating with you. The question is, are you listening to it? A lot of people are too stuck in their heads, which in turn, disconnects them from their bodies. A great self-awareness practice for getting more in touch with yourself is by doing a body scan.

Take some time every day to close your eyes and notice how each area of your body feels. By connecting with your body intelligence, you will feel more grounded overall.

3. Ask for Feedback from Others

In my opinion, honest and constructive feedback is the most valuable way to develop a greater level of self-awareness.

We all have blind spots. What are yours? If you don’t know, it’s time to ask someone!

Feedback is a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses so you can figure out how to harness and or improve them.[7] This will require that you get humble and drop you ego.

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By asking others for their input about how they perceive you and your actions, you will feel empowered to change those parts of yourself that may be holding you back from becoming the person whom you aspire to be.

4. Challenge Yourself

A great way to practice self-awareness and work on becoming a better person is to undertake something significant. True growth comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking risks. That is when your figure out who you truly are as a person.

All of this is easier said than done. Change can be hard, especially if you have behaved one way for most of your life. This is why staying in your comfort zone feels so good. It is a space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk.

Security is “nice” but it will kill your productivity. Challenging yourself and putting everything on the line helps propel you forward and fuels your personal growth.

If you want to be your best self, you’ve got to be willing to test your limits and free yourself from who people think you “should” be so that you can figure out who you were meant to be.

Final Thoughts

Self-awareness is the key to self-mastery. By making the commitment to discover new truths about yourself, you will grow and improve every area of your life. When you know who you are, there is nothing you cannot do.

You cannot improve yourself if you are not self-aware. In the words of Eckhart Tolle,

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

What actions will you take today to grow your self-awareness muscle and change your life for the better?

More About Self-Mastery

Featured photo credit: Olia Nayda via unsplash.com

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Ashley Elizabeth

Women's Transformational Coach & Dance Movement Therapist

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength How to Stop Feeling Guilty and Free Your Mind What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person 13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

Cultivating a positive mental attitude starts with a realization — a realization that you’re not the only one who has struggled, who has survived, and who has started over again. You are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness. There is simple wisdom, which can be relied upon, to help.

Find support, but also learn self-care in how you treat yourself which is what positivity is all about. That self talk, that perception, that attitude you choose changes you and changes those around you.

According to New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Better by Jessica Stillman,[1] Stanford researchers studies how the brain was impacted in achievement and learning when one felt or was positive about a subject. The result? Outcomes were much more favorable for that student.

We do well in areas we are positive about. But what if we can choose to be positive about, well, anything? That would change everything.

Positivity is not about just being happy, which is often the misconception. In fact, acknowledging a range of emotions is healthy. Positivity is persistence while using positive thinking strategies. It is sitting with your feelings; it is acceptance of what is; it is holding onto what makes you happy; it is purpose found in pain.

And the reasoning behind choosing to be positive — you get what you give. You receive what you believe.

Here’re 5 steps to cultivate a positive mental attitude. In part, they detail why it’s important to be positive as an understanding assists in the pursuit as much as the adoption of the mindset.

1. Know That You Can Change Your Attitude

There’s a Maya Angelou quote that goes:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When you choose positivity as your attitude, you select an attitude far more destined for resilient behavior than the alternative.

When you have a negative attitude, your brain gives itself permission to develop negative thinking patterns and in turn, difficult and dark emotions. You spend all your days ruminating, or worrying about the same thing over and over again, thinking that will solve it. Doing this will cause you to miss the answers rather than make the most of the moments in front of you.

In actuality, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. It feels counterintuitive, but that means to release your troubled mentality. When you release what is bothering you, you choose a safer attitude. One that helps you to accept your emotions, accept what is happening and accept that you don’t have all the answers. You’re less afraid of that fact.

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Attitude is everything. It’s how we heal ourselves. It’s how we stay positive. It’s how we secure things. It’s how we overcome.

Without a positive attitude, we cannot persevere. Perseverance is the point of positivity.

A positive attitude is how we fuel willpower. Willpower is how we fuel positivity. It goes in a circle. They are interchangeable.

Positivity denotes willpower. You can be standing in a storm and feel completely calm when you use positivity. You stay grounded. You stand firm. You do not fall over. And you know what? Even if you do, you get back up again.

There is a Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki” which means fall seven times, get up eight. This means you do not stop; you keep going. You make it through the hard times to find the good.

A positive attitude is about understanding you have power over your problems. Once you understand that, you can change your attitude. You have to choose positive thinking first in order to reap its benefits. Once you’ve chosen to be positive, you can do anything.

2. Find Your Unique Meaning in Life

When you have lost it all, a positive attitude can help you regain it or to regain your strength. It’s the best way to live. It’s the best way to learn from life and love. When you are positive, you have a power that circumstance nor others cannot take from you.

Recognizing the power you have to carry on, to make the best of things, to keep going when everything inside you wants to quit is worth everything.

You can’t always have it all, but you can always have a positive attitude. This in itself helps you stand out, helps you to shine. It’s enough to save yourself (and others potentially) with. That power keeps you grounded and safe.

For example, say you lost someone to a disease. Instead of just thinking about the loss and seeing it as the end, a positive person may decide to contribute to a cause dedicated to that disease. In doing so, the positive person becomes a beacon of hope. They become a voice for something which in turn gives them power over their hardship.

This is how people keep going: Meaning. Meaning creates a power over our emotions, over our loss so that they do not define us.

According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity affects one’s stress levels and overall health.[2] It is that powerful. When you are positive about a situation, you are less stressful and more calm and able to reason better to solve the very problem in front of you.

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Cultivating this power is about realizing a sense of meaning can be derived from all circumstances, even senseless tragedies. People often contribute to something greater than themselves when they are searching for meaning, for purpose, for positivity, for power.

You don’t always have to have a reason for why something happens, but you can use whatever happens for a greater cause. It’s subjective, changing from person to person. That’s why no matter how much you want to derive meaning from an event, there are no outright answers about how to do that.

So, what do you do? Meditate. Listen.

“Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it. Let go of your mind then be mindful. Close your ears and listen.” — Rumi

3. Be Absolutely Present

In life, you have control over your ability to be present in the moment, even if not control over everything. You have the moment.

Positivity is telling yourself that this moment is what matters. You can’t regret the past or see the future. The only way to be positive is to be here. What do you have right in front of you? Suddenly, your life shifts to gratitude.

Gratitude serves us in letting go of what we do not need. Listing what makes us happy is one way to stay present. What do you have right now that you can use? You have the tools to be positive.

Some techniques to getting there are through meditations or mantras. For example, “Nothing bad is happening right now” is an easy one to incorporate. Your past traumas can’t trip you when you ground yourself in the present, and your ability to reason further develops to the point that even if you can’t see the future, you know it will play out like this– with you empowered and in the moment, using all your wisdom and tools and positivity to persevere. That’s all you need.

Focus on the moment. In a blog about Mindfulness, Courtney Ackerman writes that one such exercise is to live in the moment to reduce worrying.[3] Think about the past and future in small, manageable doses. But focus mostly on the present, what is happening right here and now. This will reduce worrying and therefore stress as well as other negative emotions significantly.

This will allow you to be positive.

4. Practice Self-Love

Self-talk is the core of self-love, the core of what positivity is all about. Positive self-talk leads to self-love. And when our own cup is empty, we can pour into another’s. We have to help ourselves first before we can help others.

What we say to ourselves is how we practice positivity or put it into action.

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For example, there’s a children’s book called The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper where the train thinks, “I think I can, I think I can” the whole way through its travels. The result? It could because it told itself that it can.

Such a simple concept for a complex world. And yet, it works.

This is also how self-love works. What you tell yourself is powerful and makes its mark. Here are examples of things you could tell yourself to practice positivity:

  • I am enough.
  • I am worthwhile.
  • I can do this, I just have to hold on.
  • I will make it through this.
  • I am powerful.
  • I am unstoppable.

Here’re more examples for you: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life. Add to this list with your own!

When you write these positive mantras, you start to feel them. If you write “I am positive about this situation” enough times, you will start to feel that positivity seep in.

Loving yourself is not going to be easy nor come overnight. There will be a mess of feelings, regrets, negative self talk and more that you will have to carefully tip toe through to hold your own heart. Your heart needs love, and often, we deny what it needs in pursuit of purposeless pleasures such as external rewards rather than internal motivation for a life well lived. We live for what others think of us, say about us, and sometimes, losing it all or going through hardship can teach us what we really need: ourselves.

Loving yourself needs to come from an authentic place, not a “fake it til you make it” mentality. It needs to be real. It needs to include those flaws and all. That’s all you can do to become positive about yourself. You have to start within and do the work necessary to heal and be healthy.

Try these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

5. Avoid Toxic Positivity (Unhealthy Positivity)

Avoid the white knuckling type of positivity where you don’t acknowledge your struggles or pain (as they also serve you). You don’t just want to tell yourself to move on because that equates to repression.

Emotions are part of positivity. You want to sit with your feelings. You want to acknowledge them, give them a voice. Instead of telling yourself to move on, you let your emotions lead to a breakthrough that helps you cope with the changes of life.

The greatest misconceptions made about being positive is assuming one does not have to feel in order to change. Throwing away hurt, anger, grief, sadness, all those emotions we associate with being “negative” only thwart our growth and power. Positivity is USING these things to better yourself or the world around you because you’re not going to give in to them. They do not become you or your identity.

You don’t have to be the white knuckling soldier you’ve always been. You say your emotions, then follow up with a use or outlet for them. That makes your positivity profound.

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Positivity is not about wearing a mask; it is the opposite of a mask. It is freedom from negative thinking strategies such as jumping to conclusions, black or white thinking, worst case scenario assumptions and more. It’s acknowledging that there may be more strength or ability in you than previously assumed. And it’s worth it to find out.

Toxic positivity may suggest you simply put a smile on and act fine. That’s not real positivity. Healthy positivity is about showing up when you’re tired; loving when you are feeling loss; healing when you want to cling to your hurt. It’s realization that you are worth it, not worth writing off. And you care about the outcome, so you stay to sort it out. You don’t abandon or jump ship. You hold on. That’s healthy positivity.

So that one day you may say to others, “I see you. I feel you. I understand you,” because you have been where they are and got through it. It’s acknowledging the dark as much as the light.

It’s living so others may live; it’s all you need. It’s not an exact formula everyone can replicate, and no one can copy you either. Your story is important. You are meant to be here. You are meant to do well. It will be those thoughts that get you to the finish line. Thriving.

Final Thoughts

In every moment, you’re not going to want to be positive. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But even then, choosing your attitude, recognizing the power of positivity, being absolutely present, practicing self-love and avoiding toxic or unhealthy positivity will better your days and assist through your trials.

Being positive isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to see what is going to happen next. Just around the corner may be the change you need, but you’ll never know if you don’t hold on to find out.

Positivity is about being curious enough to stay for the outcome because you simply believe, hold onto and trust in yourself and some goodness in this world. That’s enough to keep one going, and enough to help them go from surviving to thriving which is where you want to be.

Everyone has low moments. There’s nothing to be ashamed of for that. You can feel negative emotions though without shaming yourself for them by practicing healthy positivity. These steps are how to cultivate a positive mental attitude.

That way you don’t live with regret. You live in the moment. You make the decision how.

You can start at anytime. Positivity can be like a switch of perception. Once you uplift yourself, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And soon, you’ll be onto uplifting others which helps even more.

Positivity is contagious. It spreads like sunlight over the darkness. You can be the source of that sunlight. All you have to do is simple: Believe you can.

Good luck!

More About Positivity

Featured photo credit: Court Prather via unsplash.com

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