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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

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience What Motivates You to Succeed in Life? 5 Powerful Tips for Overcoming Adversity 5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Simple Ways to Be Happy with Yourself Every Day

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

But what does it really mean to live your best life?

You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

Start the Journey

What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

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2. Observe Yourself

To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

3. Identify Your Bad Habits

As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

4. Set Intentions

After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

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If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

  • What will you wear?
  • How do you get there?
  • What time of day do you go?
  • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
  • How do you feel afterward?

Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

1. Focus

Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

“Winners focus, losers spray.”

2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

3. Live in the Present

Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

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How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

Action will.

4. Declutter

This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

5. Relish the Simple Things

When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

6. Journaling

Journaling

is simply writing your thoughts down.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

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Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

7. Make Someone’s Day

Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

8. Look After Your Body

Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

9. Manage Your Inner Critic

Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

Conclusion

Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
[3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
[4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
[5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

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