Whoever you think you are, right now, you are more than that. Think about that for a moment …
You probably know several things that you are very good at and you may also have some personal attributes or skills that you are looking to improve. Clearly, therefore, you already have an understanding of your potential to become better, stronger or happier. However, beyond your acknowledged personal improvement horizon, there will be more scope to develop and progress than you can imagine; learning, growth and improvement that is well beyond what you currently know or can comprehend.
If you can accept that principle, then you are at the beginning of a journey that could be truly wonderful for you. Imagine how much you could improve. How strong and able you could become. What you can achieve in life that is currently beyond your expectations.
Few people have complete self-awareness. Most of us can benefit from identifying our scope for improvement, either through extensive self-reflection or by working with a professional life coach to confirm how we can best move forward.
Really knowing yourself will empower you to unlock your future. As author Lawrence Bossidy said, ‘Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.’ It will enable you to identify your true self, to understand your personality and character. To know where you are in life and where you want to get to.
That sounds very simple and easy to achieve but, in reality, it’s a state of mind that many people struggle with. I’ve often heard people say things like, ‘Life is just something that happens to me’ and, ‘My life is too chaotic to plan anything’ and, I’m 50 years old but I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!’
Many people lose sight of what is really important to them and give true priorities such as health or personal relationships insufficient time or attention. Others underestimate their personal qualities and attributes, leading to poor confidence and low self-esteem.
Developing true self-awareness is about having the ability to ask yourself questions openly, then to answer them honestly before listening to the answers and considering the implications. If you are doing something that you shouldn’t be doing you will know it, as you will have a feeling that confirms it. Similarly, if you are not doing something that you should be doing then you will also know it. This is an internal dialogue and moral compass that lets you know whether you are on the right path or not.
However, a lot of people tend to not listen to their internal dialogue. They hear it, but they don’t act upon it. We encounter it every day when, for example, people knock over a glass of water and say things like, ‘I knew that was going to happen.’ So, clearly, they are hearing something in their mind, but they carried on regardless rather than changing what they were doing.
Realistic, objective self-awareness is very important, because if you don’t listen to yourself then who are you listening to? You might listen to someone who makes you feel better or cheers you up, but, at the end of the day, it might not be what you need to hear.
When you become really self-aware then you will have a better understanding of what is going on around you. If you then have a sudden dip with your emotions, you may be able to identify a sequence of events leading up when you first started feeling bad. You can then remove yourself from such situations or change the conversation so that any negativity is removed.
Strong self-awareness helps to prevent ill-health. If we listen effectively to our bodies we may choose to eat more healthily, drink more water, exercise regularly, drink less alcohol or perhaps take action to sleep better.
It also helps our emotions because a lot of us just react to situations rather than responding to them proactively. Reacting to events implies a lack of forethought, an instinctive, impulsive act that may or may not go well. Whereas a proactive response usually means that our actions are more thoughtful, measured, and controlled; subsequently being more likely to lead to a successful outcome. Therefore, if we are aware of how we actually feel about an experience, we can manage the impact upon our bodies, both mentally and physically.
If you are experiencing negative emotions such as anger, sadness or anxiety you can ask yourself what is causing it and, if you answer honestly, you can then identify the root cause. What you learn from that may then enable you to stop it happening. It’s like a smoke alarm actuating. If something is sounding an alarm, then it must be for a reason. You just need to find out the reason; is it a small matter like burnt toast, or is there something more serious happening?
People ask me, ‘How will I know when I’m really self-aware?’ and I tell them that they will know because their life will become easier. The situations people are faced with will not necessarily be easier, but I would expect you to become stronger and more rounded as a person so that you can deal with issues and events in a more productive way. You will not be just reacting to events and blaming others for something that has happened. You will be looking at yourself, asking questions like, ‘Am I angry because I am not in a good place at the moment? Am I not doing something in my life that I should be doing?’ That’s going to be better for yourself and other people, because it will help to prevent most things that can go wrong for you.
Self-awareness will also help you to confirm your positive characteristics and what you are good at, which can help to build your confidence and self-esteem. It can also help you when you lose certain things like mobility or hearing, so that you concentrate on what you can still do rather than focusing on what you can’t do. That will, subsequently help you to have a sense of positivity about your circumstances.
If you want to make improvements in your life, you need to start within and build your self-awareness. Spending more time and energy working on your inner-self will help you to achieve true happiness. Focus on learning who you really are and what you could become.