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Last Updated on December 14, 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

5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person

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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

10 Self-Exploration Practices to Discover Your True Self

10 Self-Exploration Practices to Discover Your True Self

Discovering your true self is a lifelong journey. It doesn’t happen in one day or one revelation, but it is still worth the pursuit. When you find your true self through self-exploration, you know what you’re meant to do and are no longer afraid. Rising up with authenticity, you can overcome anything.

What is your true self? Is it the person you were as a child? When you felt the happiest? When you learned that important life lesson? When you achieved that goal? When you helped that stranger? Or when you acted according to your values regardless of others’ expectations?

The answer is all of these things make up your true self. The key isn’t discovering your true self. It’s remembering.

Here are some self-exploration practices to help you get started.

1. Act Authentically

When you act authentically, you are stepping into your true self. You are walking with wisdom, rather than worry. People come to you because they know you’re the real deal. You are flawed but fierce. You are enough as you, where you are, with what you have.

When you are authentic, you make choices that come from character. When you stay true to who you actually are, you learn that nothing can bring you down. That’s because you aren’t looking for external validation, and when you know what you have, you can do more with it.

When you act authentically, you are also acting in the best interests of everyone around you, because you care more about the right things. A better you means a better world.

2. Use Self-Affirmations

Say the following: “I am enough. I am strong. I am a victor, not a victim. I have what it takes. I will overcome. I will keep going, even when it seems impossible. I am not perfect, but I am human. I am allowed to rest, not to quit. I am not alone. I am good. I am grateful. I am at peace.”

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When you say these things, you accept them as true. You feel them, and you become them. You discover your true self in finding your power through self-exploration.

When you tell the world who you are, obstacles and opposition will move out of the way. When you are confident, you see opportunities, lessons, and wisdom. It makes you proactive, rather than reactive.

3. Confront Your Inner Critic

If all anyone did was listen to the negative voice in their head, nothing would ever get done. Einstein wouldn’t have discovered the Theory of Relativity and more if he listened to his teacher once tell him that he didn’t have what it took. The world would be robbed of that one person, who would change so many things.

The inner critic comes from fear of the unknown, of not being good enough, or of loss and lack. However, fear doesn’t have to decide what happens. You can overcome fear by not listening to your inner critic.

Instead, you can thank your inner critic and say, “I think what COULD happen…” and spin it into a positive sentiment. Fear can make sure you wear your seatbelt, practice before performing, make good choices, etc., but it doesn’t have to control you.

It may not go away completely, when you confront your inner critic, but you can reassure it and ultimately release it.

4. Don’t Hide Your Imperfections

It’s easy to wear a mask and say, “This is who I want people to think I am.” Instead, it’s more fulfilling to take off the mask and say, “This is who I actually am, and I am proud of that person.”

Through self-exploration, you can live freely by owning who you are. That will make you more responsible and more impactful. When you tell your story and say your truth, people will listen and be inspired to find their own truth. Self-discovery can then spread.

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5. Find Who You Are NOT

If you want to find out who you are, find out who you are NOT. What part of your past has defined your present? What about your culture, religion, family, friends, people around you, etc? What is truly you and what is them? You’ll never be finished discovering yourself, but you can use differentiation[1], where you separate yourself from what isn’t you by finding the sources of your views to become independent.

When you differentiate, you do not discount or minimize the effect other things have had. You just become aware of it, and what you are aware of, you can bring into the light of acceptance, where you can do something to change it.

What are your unique goals, interests, values, and ideas? Once you figure out what you are not, start there. Self-exploration is a journey of understanding how you have been shaped and molded through life and by what.

It’s okay that things have influenced you, but have you ever asked yourself why? If you can answer that question, you can start to find out who you are and set yourself free from the things you aren’t.

6. Log Your Life

Journaling is a great tool for self-exploration. All you need to do is write down your thoughts, either as free writing or following prompts. If you can’t think of anything to write, start simply: Write down your mood and the date.

What causes you to feel better or worse? What are your triggers? What makes you triumph?

When you discover what makes you tick, you learn how to better manage yourself and your life. You have a safe space where you can be your true self, and only share entries if you feel comfortable. You can pour it out daily, or just check in.

You can also observe what’s around you, letting your mind go and flow. Focus on your feelings, and allow pauses and moments for reflection before resuming writing. Let the end of it come naturally, when you feel like you have nothing else to say.

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As long as you keep some sort of log, you can learn how your mind operates, and you can pick up unhealthy patterns, which will help you regain control of your life.

You can check out more benefits of journaling here.

7. Focus on What Is Right With You

Maybe your mind ruminates on what you don’t like about yourself and what you think others don’t like. Maybe you feel like opportunities pass you up because you are not worth it. If that is you, know that you’re not alone. Everyone has a negativity bias[2] where they tend to believe more in the bad at first then the good.

Recognizing your mind may lie to you is the first step in seeing the truth. When you focus on what is right for you, you counteract those thoughts telling you that you have nothing to offer. If you have control over what you think, you have greater control over your situation.

Have you ever given yourself a compliment? Why not try one now? You can personalize it, but you can say things along the lines of, “I like how you care for other people. You have a great attitude. You always rise when bad things happen. I love you.”

8. Find Solace in Solitude

Sometimes, unplugging and getting away is the best thing for self-exploration. If you step outside into nature and invest in yourself, then you will feel better and be better.

Use time to meditate and focus just on yourself, not the world around you. Listen to your own thoughts, not what others are saying. When you check in, you know yourself again.

Recharging may not change everything or stop that difficult circumstance, but it can help you develop the mindset and energy to face it through your inner strength.

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9. Practice Self-Care

Often, when people try to relax, they worry with guilt and anxiety. You may be on vacation, but your brain is still at work. If you give yourself permission to relax, you will see that you fight your battles even better and can really dive into self-exploration.

Breakthroughs will happen in self-care more than in self-sabotage. When you try some self-care, it’s not just about pampering yourself. It’s taking the time to do what you need to do in order to be who you need to be.

Self-care looks different to each person. For some, it may be using essential oils and taking a bath. For others, it may look like hiking into nature, away from your problems and troubles. Whatever self-care looks like for you, know that you deserve it.

10. Try Mindfulness

Being present and in the moment is a great way to discipline your mind into not catastrophizing. When you fail, you don’t say, “I’m a failure.” Mindfulness[3] helps you stop judging yourself by just observing your thoughts and stopping negative thought patterns.

Imagine your thoughts are like leaves flowing past you in the cool breeze. As each thought comes up, place it on a leaf and let it pass. You don’t have to be attached to each one. Instead, work on breathing deeply, which activates the Vagus nerve[4] and releases tension and stress. As you breathe out, notice those leaves getting farther and farther from you, until they are in the distance.

You can be mindful at work, when your boss is talking over you and you want to raise your voice. You can be mindful with your kids, when they are asking for their sibling’s toy and you just want to give in to make it stop. You can be mindful when you are in the most stressful situations, and it gives you a pause to reassess the situation.

Whatever the situation, you calm down so that you can act with a clearer head and make choices that will bring the best results.

Conclusion

Self-exploration looks different for each person, but authenticity always brings you back to yourself. When you are exploring who you are, you must start with what matters to you. You have to assess your values and that will give you the criteria for living.

Self-discovery is about self-love, most of all. When you love yourself, you have more to give, and you find happiness in the process.

More Tips for Self-Exploration

Featured photo credit: Jonas Svidras via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psych Alive:  Psychological Differentiation
[2] Very Well Mind: What Is the Negativity Bias?
[3] Psychology Today: Mindfulness
[4] Mayo Clinic: Vagus nerve stimulation

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