Self-awareness has become a buzz word in many companies, wellness practices, and coaching rooms. The idea of reaching a state of self-actualization sounds like something worth striving towards.
Self-awareness can assist you on this journey. To become self-aware takes effort and courage because it involves a lot of honesty and self-reflection.
If you are in a therapeutic space, perhaps you are seeing a therapist, or a counsellor, or a life and leadership coach, you will need to learn how to develop your self-awareness. This will deepen your experience.
Self-awareness can be an abstract concept to many of us, nice to talk about, but do we really understand all it involves? Let us look at a self-awareness definition.
Self-awareness comprises of two elements: an internal and external element.
The internal element of self-awareness is the ability to honestly reflect inwards. To identify thoughts, actions, and emotions that move around in our minds and bodies. Internal self-awareness also includes the alignment of these thoughts, actions, and emotions to our value standards.
Basically, our internal self-awareness is our perception of ourselves. The reflective nature of self-awareness incorporates a non-judgmental view. Rather there is an aim to look kindly on our strengths and weaknesses, to grow into someone more consistent with our values.
The external element of self-awareness is the ability to understand how the outside world perceives us, our thoughts, actions, and emotions. This external awareness enables us to reflect on how we are affecting others and how others affect us.
Combining both internal and external self-awareness brings a holistic understanding of the self and your standing in the world. This is a highly beneficial state to be in.
The theory of self-awareness shows that when practiced it leads to many benefits both internally and externally. These benefits increase the quality of a person’s life and encourages them to live in the present moment more often.
When we live in the present moment, we are less prone to anxiety, worry, and depression. Often being in the present moment allows for us to identify opportunities, moments of gratitude, enhance relationships, and self-confidence.
Developing a strong self-awareness can benefit you in the following ways:
These benefits help us grow as individuals. Growth can lead to many new opportunities, possibly on a personal level, or even at work. However, sometimes it can be difficult to manage this on your own. Starting a journey with a life and leadership coach or a counsellor can assist you in exploring your self-awareness.
When we begin a counselling or coaching journey, we can feel overwhelmed and uncertain of what is expected of us. This is a normal concern, and one with a simple solution. Nothing is expected of you!
Rather this journey hopes to support you in developing skills to meet your needs. One of these skills is self-awareness.
Self-awareness is an important skill not only to develop in the counselling or coaching journey, but to use in the sessions as well. Why would this be important?
When we are self-aware, we know that we are actively present in the moment – being in the moment in a session is beneficial because we are wholly focused on ourselves.
Self-awareness in counselling or coaching sessions will help deepen the self-discovery, whilst remaining non-judgmental towards yourself.
With this mindset you can clarify your own values, really dig deep, and explore what these core standards are to you. This enhances your understanding of your impact on the world around you.
Counselling and coaching aim at exploring empathy and emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is identifying how each emotion feels in your mind and body, what impact the emotion has on your thoughts and actions, and what you need to support or ease that emotion. Emotional regulation cannot be achieved without self-awareness.
This is achieved partly by building a growth mindset. A growth mindset in counselling or coaching looks at moving beyond limiting thoughts and beliefs, at building the self according to your own values and how you best function in the world. This cannot be done without self-awareness.
Self-awareness is an important element in any counselling or coaching session, yet it is also something that you can develop outside of these counselling services.
Self-awareness should become a daily practice, a new habit that will boost your quality of life. So how do you practice and develop your self-awareness? Look at some of these helpful tips:
When you think of your best self, what do they look like? What are their strengths? What are their challenges? What are their habits? How do other people see them?
When you have a good vision of your best self you can reflect on how close you are to this goal. Remember to do this non-judgmentally, as you are only taking stock and seeing how you can move closer to your goal.
Sometimes we get caught up in justifications or trying to find the ‘why’ for our thoughts, actions, and emotions. This is useful to help us reflect and understand ourselves, but it can become difficult to find innovative ways forward.
By using ‘what’ questions you can find a way forward. Let us look at a self-awareness example using a what question.
You have had a conflict with your partner. Afterwards you can ask these questions, and the answers may help you in future conflicts.
What could I have done differently in my actions during the conflict?
What impact did the environment (the place) have on the conflict?
What emotions did this conflict trigger in me?
When we pause during highly energized moments, we are able to engage our cognitive thought processes, which can counteract the impulsive nature of our emotional response system.
This pause helps us to name what we are feeling, become aware of how it is affecting our body and actions. Then we will be able to regulate ourselves for the best possible outcome.
Approach people that you trust and ask them what their perceptions of you are. You may be surprised how people see you in the different contexts of your life.
By exploring how people actually see you, you remove the assumptions you may have and gain actual knowledge. This develops self-awareness and can decrease worry and anxiety about how you are perceived.
Mindfulness practices are all about noticing or observing what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness emphasizes no judgement, simply highlights awareness. Here are some examples of mindfulness practices:
You could keep a journal where you record your thoughts, emotions, and observations for each day.
You could practice meditation, where you bring your awareness into your body and allow your thoughts to drift and not focus on anything in particular.
You could develop a gratitude or positivity journal or notebook, where you record three to five things that were positive, or you are grateful for each day.
You could take 2 minutes three to four times a day to ground yourself in the present moment. You can do this by finding 5 things you see, 4 things you could touch, 3 things you could hear, 2 things you smell, and 1 emotion you are feeling currently.
Self-awareness is built when we discover new things about ourselves. We can set up opportunities for this to happen by starting a new hobby or getting involved in a new situation.
When this occurs, we can reflect on how we are perceived and how we react internally to the new situations. This can help us clarify our values as well.
We have seen how valuable self-awareness is. As a daily practice, self-awareness can increase our quality of life, enhance our relationships, grow our opportunities, and deepen our self-love.
Self-awareness is a daily practice and can be incorporated into daily life with small practices. Self-awareness can also be developed and honed in a coaching or counselling relationship.
If you are looking for a life and leadership coach, or counselling services contact us at One Life Counselling and Coaching.