“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung
As individuals, we are constantly becoming and unbecoming that sometimes it is hard to catch up with ourselves and know the answers to the question “Who are we?” “Do we truly know ourselves?”
A research study by Dr. Tasha Eurich and her team revealed that 95% of us think we are self-aware while in reality only 10-15% truly are. Now, most of you would be wondering if you belong in the category of 10-15%.
There might be a lot of questions appearing in your head like:
How do I know if I am completely aware?
If not, why am I more unaware than aware?
How should I become more self-aware?
Why does it even matter to become more self-aware?
In this article, we are going to answer all these questions for you. So, get your cup of coffee and keep reading!
Why are we disconnected to who we really are?
We tend to see ourselves in a more positive light to protect our self-image, also known as a feel-good effect. A study by Daniel Gilbert states that 50% of the time we are operating on auto-pilot, not consciously aware of our behavior. We judge other people by their behaviors but analyze ourselves by our values.
Emily Pronin, a social psychologist from Princeton University explains how we don’t want to think anything negative about ourselves and our personalities so we assume we are not all of these things, also referred to as Introspection Illusion.
We often end up inventing answers to drop out from the cycle of being constantly stressed and less satisfied by telling ourselves what feels true but might not be.
Does that mean we shouldn’t introspect? But if we aren’t introspecting, how do we become self-aware?
Before answering these questions, it is important to know why it even matters? Is it detrimental to be in an illusion of your self-reflection?
Why does self-awareness matter?
There are a lot of pieces of evidence that have proven self-awareness to benefit us for our overall development. Self-awareness allows us to work more creatively and productively. It also enhances our self-confidence, self-esteem, and our ability to make decisions and communicate.
Research posted by Harvard Business Review shows when the individuals were less self-aware, the teams substantially suffered. They engaged in making bad decisions and showcased less coordination and conflict management.
High Self-awareness results in individuals being more confident, decisive and are more likely to be successful compared to people who aren’t self-aware.
Being more aware of yourself gives you clarity on how to lead your life. Tons of more research available predicts that self-aware individuals are likely to live a fulfilled life with their creativity and effectiveness in leading a meaningful purpose.
The scary part is 80% of us believe ourselves to be self-aware which is we are constantly feeding ourselves with lies without even realizing it.
Now, it is interesting to note that you have to be more self-aware to find out if you’re self-aware.
“Umm…. WHAT? I’d rather understand Christopher’s Nolan Inception before this.”
Don’t worry if that is your reaction. Your coffee is still hot. Keep drinking. Keep reading.
What is self-awareness?
We have used the word self-awareness 20 times till now in this article but what is self-awareness anyway?
It is the ability to see yourself without your judgment being clouded by any internal or external factor. To be able to clearly define your good and bad qualities without falling in the mud of being blindsided by the fantasies of what you should be.
If you’re thinking, wouldn’t all of this require introspection? But what if introspection brings emotions of stress and proves to do no good?
To safely introspect, we will need to change the approach of introspection from berating ourselves with daily chatter into a healthy one.
Actions you can take to improve your self-awareness
In this section, we will learn 4 different strategies to develop self-awareness.
While the concept of meditation may appear boring to some, it has proven to be the most powerful tool to gain self-awareness and mindfulness.
An individual has thousands of thoughts in a day. It is next to impossible to control each one of them. During meditation, as you focus your attention, it helps you eliminate the chain of jumbled thoughts that may be cluttering your mind.
It also helps you to streamline your thoughts and observe them. These are some of the methods that have helped the majority of people:
Relax your mind
Indulge in breathing exercises. Close your eyes and notice your breathing to become more mindful of yourself. Take out a few minutes of your day to engage yourself in a peaceful body scan. Focus your breath across your body one by one to relax your mind.
You can implement positive affirmations out loud or in your thoughts while meditating. You can feel more confident, focused, and relaxed doing this exercise.
There are tons of videos that you can find on Youtube to perform these exercises to become more mindful.
2. Maintain a Journal
Writing down your thoughts associated with everyday events might help you discover your true emotions. Once you start penning down your experiences to capture your feelings, You’ll begin to better understand your true nature.
If you’re somebody who doesn’t usually write and doesn’t know how to start. Here are some things that you might want to try.
Ask What, Not Why
Imagine yourself in an argument where the person you’re fighting with keeps asking you questions starting with “Why”. “Why did you approach him first? Why didn’t you call me? Why am I late to know this?”
All of these questions might make you feel attacked, wronged, or blamed for something you didn’t do.
Your first reaction is to immediately defend yourself and your identity since that is something you have preserved since you were born.
Along with getting defensive during a fight, it is also natural to be irrational feeding lies to protect your self-image.
Now the question arises: do you constantly ask yourself “WHY” in a relationship you have with yourself?
Why did I panic in that meeting? Why did I not get that job? Why couldn’t I complete that assignment on time?
Dr. Eurich explains that asking “why” creates alternative facts which lead us away from who we are. We should use “what” instead for self-introspection.
Instead of using: "Why do I make so many mistakes in my job?"
Use: "What situations make me feel terrible at work and what do they have in common?"
The former interrogative sentence brings animosity towards yourself. While the latter makes you think more rationally instead of ruminating stressfully.
Timeline of your life
Draw a timeline of your life marking the major events along the timeline starting from your birth. Even if the events seem irrelevant but you think have impacted your life in some way, positively or even negatively, continue writing it down.
Listing out specific periods that have impacted your overall being helps you gain more awareness about yourself.
3. Psychometric Tests
Reflecting can be done in multiple ways but the important thing is to recognize your certain pattern and behavior which can be done by psychometric tests. Myer Briggs and Predictive Index are some of the tests made to gain self-awareness
It is harder to get honest feedback from people about yourself but if you get someone trusted to critique you, it might help you gain a different perspective about yourself.
Identify your blind spots
Have you ever blindly trusted somebody because you were in love? Sometimes you tend to do that with yourself too. We naturally form some blind spots. We are more biased while assessing ourselves and tend to only have a positive outlook that we often rate ourselves over others in terms of desirable qualities.
That is why it is important to get feedback from other people about yourself from time to time. It can be a close friend of yours or a colleague. Anyone you can trust to be completely honest and reveal direct observations that help in self-improvement.
If you want to create continuous growth and development in yourself, take the chance of self-discovery wherever you get an opportunity. Becoming self-aware is a never-ending process since we’re growing and changing daily. If you want to lead your life effectively, you should be able to catch up with yourself quickly.