Would you say you are a self-aware person? How do you see the role of self-awareness in your professional and personal life?

If you were asked in an interview what your greatest strength is, how likely are you to say self-awareness? It probably wouldn’t be the first thing to cross your mind, even if you consider yourself to be a self-aware person. The thing is that most people don’t realise how truly valuable it is to possess such a trait. Self-awareness is totally underrated.

To me, self-awareness is the ability to translate your feelings into words, and to give it meaning.

Self-awareness is the ability to know what we are doing as we do it, and understand why we are doing it. While awareness is knowing what’s happening around you, self-awareness is knowing what you’re experiencing.

The ability to monitor our emotions and thoughts from moment to moment is key to understanding ourselves better, being at peace with who we are, and proactively managing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Self-aware people tend to act consciously (rather than react passively), and tend to be in good psychological health and to have a positive outlook on life. They also have a greater depth of life experience and are more likely to be more compassionate.

Whether you want to be more accepting of yourself or more accepting of others, cultivating self-awareness is a good place to start.

6 Ways to Cultivate Self-Awareness

  • Create some space for yourself.When you are in a dark room without windows, it is fairly difficult to see things clearly. The space you create for yourself is that crack on the wall where you allow light to come through. Leave yourself some time and space every day – perhaps first thing in the morning or half an hour before sleep when you stay away from the digital distractions and spend some time with yourself, reading, writing, meditating, and connecting with yourself.
  • Practice mindfulness.Mindfulness is the key to self-awareness. Mindfulness is defined as: ‘Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.’ Through mindfulness practice, you will be more present with yourself so that you can ‘be there’ to observe what’s going on inside and around you. It is not about sitting cross-legged or suppressing your thoughts. It is about paying attention to your inner state as they arise. You can practice mindfulness at any time you want, through mindful listening, mindful eating or walking. The average person has between 50,000-70,000 thoughts in day. Mindfulness gives us space to pay attention to our thoughts – you never know what you may uncover. Have you had a mindful moment today?
  • Keep a journal:Writing not only helps us process our thoughts but also makes us feel connected and at peace with ourselves. Writing can also create more headspace as you let your thoughts flow out onto paper. Research shows that writing down things we are grateful for or even things we are struggling with helps increase happiness and satisfaction.  You can also use the journal to record your inner state. Set some time, maybe on a weekend and pay close attention to your inner world – what you are feeling, what you are saying to yourself, where in your body do you feel tension, and make a note of what you observe every hour. You may be surprised about what you write down!
  • Practice being a good listener: Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is about being present and paying attention to other people’s emotions, body movement, and language. It is about showing empathy and understanding without constantly evaluating or judging. When you become a good listener, you will also be better at listening to your own inner voice and become the best friend of yourself.
  • Gain different perspectives:Ask for feedback. Sometimes we can be too afraid to ask what others think of us – sometimes the feedback may be unfair or even dishonest but you will be able to differentiate them from real, genuine and balanced feedback as you learn more about yourself and others. Research has shown conducting 360-degree feedback in the workplace is a useful tool to improve managers’ self-awareness. We all have blind spots, so it is helpful to gain a different perspective to see a fuller picture of ourselves.
  • Know what your values are:We can’t let our identity depend on the identity of someone else. Once you know who you are in life, you stop trying to be who you are not. That gives you tranquility. Know what you will and won’t tolerate. Set boundaries for yourself and don’t let yourself or anyone else cross the line. Don’t settle for anything less than the best. Knowing yourself makes living easier – do more things that you’re good at and what makes you happy.

That’s it. That’s knowing yourself!

W — Watch your Words.

A — Watch your Actions.

T — Watch your Thoughts.

C — Watch your Companions.

H — Watch your Habits.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein