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Last Updated on April 17, 2020

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.

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.

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“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.

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.

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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.

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]

If you’d like to kickstart journaling, check out this guide: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

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.

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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.

You can learn more about this here: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

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.

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.

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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 to Help You Understand Yourself Better

Featured photo credit: Olia Nayda via unsplash.com

Reference

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Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

Reference

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