Why It’s Important to Be Self Aware
Do you often wonder if life is easier for those who still bumble through life unconsciously? They don’t have the pressure of living up to someone expectations. They never have to apologize. It’s everyone else who has the problem. “So why should I change, I’m perfectly happy where I’m at.” It’s all well and good until this thinking causes problems in your relationships with loved ones. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s important to be self aware.
When you become conscious and self-aware that maybe you aren’t as ok as you thought you were, you finally realize you have some big improvements to make.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. People may try to make you think there is, but those people are probably the ones even MORE in need of some self-awareness.
Making changes is Hard
Admitting you suck at some things makes you vulnerable to being hurt or taken advantage of. But it also makes you humble and human.
It means you actually feel bad for hurting people or not meeting their needs.
Being self-aware means you now have to take some responsibility for your thinking, faults, and feelings.
It definitely is easier and safer to say, “this is me and I’m not changing. Iif you don’t like it, move along, that’s your problem, etc. “.
I see a lot of people with this attitude. It doesn’t make you big and tough, it actually makes your shortcomings even more apparent. And it doesn’t do much to bring people closer to you.
There’s delicate balance between acknowledging where you fall short and need to improve, and beating yourself up for not being perfect, isn’t there? I still find myself wondering where that line falls sometimes.
How Do We Become More Self Aware Without Becoming a Doormat?
Self awareness doesn’t mean you have to become a doormat , in fact it has quite the opposite effect. When you know yourself–what bothers you, what your needs are, why you react a certain way–it makes it easier to set clear boundaries and realistic expectations with others.
You won’t feel the need to do things just to fit in, or be swayed by someone else’s opinions of you. You’ll be able to use constructive criticism as a way to improve, rather than as a blow to your ego.
Lastly, you’ll be able to firmly, but tactfully assert your thoughts and feelings with confidence, and move away from people and situations that don’t add value to your life.
Self Awareness Strengthens Your Relationships
Another reason it’s important to be self aware is that can improve your relationships. How? Well, for one, you are able to clearly communicate your needs so others can better understand how they can be effective at meeting them.
You can also avoid the painful feeling of thinking that you are the cause of someone’s unhappiness. I used to have a habit of always assuming I did something wrong if I didn’t hear from someone for awhile. If a friend didn’t call me for a long time, I automatically assumed they didn’t care.
When you are self-aware, you won’t automatically assume the worst. You can then be aware of your thoughts, and offer up a different meaning. Nothing has any meaning until we give it one, right?
Self Awareness Promotes Objective Thinking
Let’s say you have a friend that I’ve texted a few times over the past couple of months. She rarely gets back with you. When she does, it’s very short. You start to feel kind of rejected. You start thinking you are being ignored on purpose. But you have a choice here… you can allow Ms. Unaware Ego to keep going down that winding path of negative perceptions. Or Ms. Self Aware can step in and offer up a different explanation.
I have a friend who is very consumed with work and family. She has trouble even taking time for herself, much less friends. Haven’t heard from her in a couple of months.
Therefore, I simply chalk it up to her just having a lot on her plate. Nothing personal. We’ll meet up if and when she has time, and I’ll go on about my day.
You might say, “Easier said than done”. But is it really easier to entertain thoughts that make you feel crappy than to give the benefit of the doubt?
I don’t think so.
Self Awareness Allows for New Thoughts
When you’re mind is on autopilot, you’re first reaction to a perceived offense might be hurt and anger. And if you approach the person with this attitude, they will feel attacked.
The confrontation will most likely end in some sort of conflict. At that point, your unaware brain will validate that distorted view. It can become a vicious cycle of negativity.
However, when you take the time to question your thoughts, you begin to open your mind to more productive thoughts. Your discussions can come from a place of curiosity and helpfulness, rather than a place of insecurity and self-absorption.
Self Awareness Increases Respect
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.Pema Chödrön
Gently being the keyword here. When we look at ourselves and our flaws, we need to acknowledge them with the same care and understanding you would give to a close friend or your children.
Don’t use this awareness to beat yourself up even more than you already have. However, don’t make excuses for it either.
View the awareness as a signal that a change is required. You may need to take action to heal something from your past. Or it may be that you need to learn how to communicate differently.
When you acknowledge where you need improvement, you gain self respect and the respect of the people closest to you.
Self Awareness Allows for Growth
If you’ve heard the same complaints several times from different people, there’s a good chance you have a blind spot in your self-awareness.
I know it can be super painful to hear criticism from others. But instead of reacting in anger, take it as an opportunity to improve in that area. Trust me, I still have to work on this daily.
There is all kinds of information out there telling people
“don’t worry about what others think”
“get rid of people who don’t accept you for who you are”
Unfortunately, I don’t think it is that black-and-white.
I agree that your identity and self worth should not be dictated by every person you meet. However, I don’t believe that you should get rid of every person in your life that challenges your ego.
There is a huge benefit to reflecting on the feedback others have given you. We need our ideas and expectations challenged in order to grow and become more self aware. Learning to discern helpful criticism from just plain hurtful is difficult at first. But it will get easier as you become more and more self-aware.
Self Awareness Allows for Empathy
One of the most important reasons for why it’s important to be self aware is that it makes room for empathy. When you understand how difficult it is to change thought patterns or habits, you can be more understanding of others. Rather than be angry or resentful, you can forgive and let go more easily when someone unintentionally hurts you.
You now understand that like you, everyone has their own experiences and level of awareness. Some may not have come as far in their self awareness as you have.
I am not saying you should excuse bad behavior, but you can address it with the person from a calm perspective instead of an emotion-filled outburst.
It Takes Practice
Try working on your self awareness this week. Take 10 minutes to reflect and write in a notebook or journal about your day. Not only is it therapeutic, but it gives you perspective when you go back and re-read it later.
Be mindful when someone or something triggers an emotion. Notice the feelings that come up, but try not to react to them as you normally would. Take a deep breath or walk away if you have to. Note this in your journal too, and give yourself kudos! It’s a big positive step towards becoming self aware.
P.S. If you want more ideas that promote self awareness and help reduce anxiety, check out my post here.