Self-awareness is a learned trait through which one gains valuable insight into their feelings, values, and desires. In many cases, people struggle with seeing themselves as they really are and have trouble getting in touch with their inner selves to make smart decisions.
So how can one learn self-awareness? It will take time and practice, but by building self-awareness, you will be able to determine how you convey yourself to others and what internal drivers make you who you are. Here are five ways to get started.
Interview yourself and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Warm up with a light round of Would You Rather to get into the right mindset. Then, ask yourself questions that you would ask someone you really wanted to know, inside and out. These questions could include:
- What do I want out of life?
- If there were five books someone could read to better understand who I am, what would they be?
- What is my greatest fear?
- When I’m retired and look back, what do I want to have accomplished?
- What was the last thing I purchased? Did it bring me joy?
- What is my greatest strength?
- What would I do today if I wasn’t afraid?
You don’t need to answer all of these questions in one sitting. Give yourself time to think about the answers and record them when you’re ready.
Meditation is a form of mindfulness that will get you in touch with your inner thoughts. This ancient practice has long been a go-to method of relaxation and stress reduction. You can either allow your mind to float freely or meditate on a specific issue that has importance to you.
Start by finding a quiet, comfortable place where you can close your eyes without interruption. Focus on your breathing, inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of six. As thoughts come into your mind, address them and let them go. Once you’ve reached a calm state, you can start to shift your focus to a thought or consideration, perhaps to answer one of the questions you asked yourself earlier.
Ask for Feedback
A part of self-awareness is seeing yourself as others see you or being able to identify how you convey yourself to others. To do so, sometimes you need to ask other people how they perceive you. This can be challenging, as people tend to hold back and word things how they believe you want to hear them.
Ask for candid feedback about how others perceive you from family members, friends, co-workers, and superiors. Ask for positive qualities and negative qualities that you could work on. Use both open and close-ended questions, such as “tell me three words you feel describe me” or “what’s one thing you think I could do better?” Reflect on their answers.
Set Boundaries and Practice Self-Discipline
To build self-awareness, you must set limits for other people and yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no to others in the pursuit of your goals. Create routines and habits to ensure that you are accomplishing everything you set out to do, using a mentor or coach as needed. Setting boundaries blocks out some of the noise and distraction, allowing you to get in touch with what you want and need to enhance your quality of life.
Try New Things
Immerse yourself in someone else’s world. While it may seem counter-intuitive, witnessing how other people live can make you more aware of your own situation. For example, traveling to the poor regions of South America and experiencing another culture can be eye-opening. Alternatively, open your mind to the world outside your front door by volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Building self-awareness will not only give you insight into who you are, but it will also help you develop a sense of purpose and determine where you fit in your local and global community.