I’ve written a lot about finding your purpose, engaging with your passions and finding creative outlets, but in looking back I realize that I skipped over the common denominator that grounds purpose, passion and creativity…. self awareness. You’re not going to get very far without a degree of that.
Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means a self-development guru or well-read on the subject of self-awareness. Quite the opposite in fact, as I really think that type of writing is ridden with clichés and impersonal assumptions about human behavior. My thoughts here are simply a reflection of what I have observed and learned as a result of my own interactions and personal journey.
Now that we got that out of the way, here is what I have observed lately. Do you find yourself doing any of the following?
Deflecting blame and redirecting negative feedback?
Proclaiming blind confidence in your ability but also pessimistic about potential outcomes?
I have observed this quite frequently lately both in my own life and those of my friends, family and colleagues.
To me, these are symptoms of a lack of self-awareness and are tangibly impeding your ability to progress and make changes in your life.
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” –Eckhart Tolle
Personal change and development is grounded in your ability to understand who you truly are and your ability to wholeheartedly accept that and reflect it in the world.
For me, to learn how to become self aware is to be able to consciously view myself from a higher level – to be able to observe all aspects of myself from an unbiased point of view.
My thoughts, words, actions, feelings, reactions, attractions, body language, etc.
When you are truly able to observe in this manner, you are becoming self-aware. You are not immediately judging, just observing.
As you observe, you will become attuned to realize whether your observations align with the person you want to become/your perception of yourself. Does it align with your purpose?
Plain English? To learn how to become self aware is to observe who you are and whether that is in-line with who you want to be.
My goal here is to encourage you to make these observations. Easier said than done, but here are 5 simple activities that you can engage in that will help you.
I have found that the act of doing nothing offers you the greatest opportunity to observe and reflect.
You don’t need to get fancy or overly spiritual with this practice. Something as simple as using Headspace to perform daily meditative sessions can make all the difference and encourage you to ponder questions that improve self-awareness. Am I content with my current state of being? What can I do to change? What am I doing that is impeding my progress?
You don’t need to set out on an epic mountain expedition to get the benefits of this activity. I have found the act of separating one’ self from familiar environments combined with a destination-less journey greatly aids in introspection. Set out on a walk in your city, or hit the trails in your town. Don’t set a destination. Just go and see where your feet and your mind take you.
I personally have never gotten into yoga but my friends swear by its ability to help them clear their minds of extraneous thoughts and focus on the things that matter. Try outdoor yoga for the added soothing benefit of being in nature as you clear your mind.
Journaling/ Gratitude Journal
This is a great and simple practice that encourages daily reflection as well as a special opportunity to look back on an entire year and see what has transpired and how it has affected you. It’s quite simple. Each day, write down the positive things you are thankful for. Use something like Gratitude Journal to keep track of them. I have found this to not only be a great way to put your life into perspective, but also as a way to help you understand how the things you do each day can add up to great things and trends in your life.
Daily, weekly or even monthly, writing is another great way to encourage yourself to reflect on the things that might be difficult to say but easier to write. If you’re shy and don’t want to publish your work, create a private blog or Tumblr account. If you want to publish for the world to see, try a platform like Medium.
A recent trip to China affirmed this for me. There is something about getting far away from the familiarity of your hometown setting and out into the world that encourages you to consider your present self and circumstances. For a full dose of travel-induced introspection, try traveling alone. I have had several friends who traveled Europe and Southeast Asia by themselves, and the first thing they said was how it really encouraged them to ponder and discover their true selves.
Most people can relate to this one but I don’t think people take full advantage of its ability to help you tune-into your true self. Use your morning job or your post work gym session to tune-out the noise and listen to what your inner voice is saying. Take this time to ask yourself questions like, what personal qualities do I really like about myself? What are the things I love to do? What are the things I believe that I need to do in order to have a great life?
I’d love to hear about the activities you do and the questions you ask yourself to become more self aware. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org