As sentient beings, we are well aware of our surroundings.
I mean, that’s the reason why we are able to even exist and live.
We take in information from our environment through our sense organs and then process that information to make sense of the world.
This, in a nutshell, is awareness.
We know who we are and we know our place in this world (in a general sense).
Now, there is one more dimension of this awareness.
And that’s the internal dimension. When you are aware of your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, values, and attitudes in an unbiased manner, that’s self-awareness. In other words, it is the ability to look at yourself objectively through self-reflection. ( Check our article about what causes lack of self-awareness HERE .)
Being self-aware is very important to live a happy, fulfilled, and content life.
It plays an important role in strengthening your relationships, allowing you to take better decisions, helping you become a better version of yourself, helping you achieve success, and a lot more.
Without a doubt, everyone should make it their priority to become more self-aware.
Let’s take a look at how you can do that.
One of the most effective ways to increase your self-awareness is to spend some time alone with yourself.
This can mean taking a walk in nature, sitting quietly in a park, or simply sitting in silence in your own home.
The key here is to remove yourself from the distractions and noise of daily life and to focus on your own thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
In today’s busy world, this has become a rare thing among people.
However, the importance of this cannot be stressed enough.
This seemingly simple exercise can bring a mirror in front of you and help you understand who you really are.
When you spend time alone, you can gain a better understanding of your own thoughts and feelings. You can understand why you act the way you do and what drives you in life.
It can help you go deep within yourself to discover your authentic self, whom you might have hidden from the rest of the world.
Another way to increase self-awareness is to pay attention to what bothers you about other people.
This could be at home, school, the workplace, a cafe, or anywhere else.
As you sit and observe people around you, try to observe which of their traits or elements of behavior bother you the most.
This might seem like a ridiculous exercise, but it has a deeper meaning.
You see, as you observe the things that frustrate, annoy or anger you in others, you might find that they are the things that you also struggle with yourself.
It might be that you are not annoyed by them but by the fact that you have the same unresolved issues and traits within yourself.
For example, if you are bothered by someone’s lack of respect, it could be that you need to work on your own respect for others.
So, this exercise could give you insight into your own behaviors and actions, and help you understand yourself better.
Mindfulness ( which helps to feel grounded) is one of the best practices to instill in your life for self-discovery and self-awareness.
It is one of the most enlightening things you can do for yourself.
If you didn’t already know, mindfulness involves anchoring your attention to the present moment and everything you’re doing in it.
It requires complete involvement with the current moment in a non-judgmental manner.
Let me give you an example of this to help you understand better.
Let’s say you are walking in your backyard.
Now, mindful walking would require you to pay attention to how you move your body, the quality of air entering your lungs, the sounds you hear in your environment, the thoughts that pass through your mind, the emotions that arise in your heart, and so on.
Basically, you need to observe the tiniest of details of that moment.
Eventually, this enhances your ability to perceive and that’s when you become much more self-aware.
Since times immemorial, people from all walks of life have turned to journaling when they wanted to get something heavy off of their chest.
Even great emperors and fighters have been known to journal from time to time.
In today’s world, from business executives to therapists, everyone talks about the importance of making this simple habit a part of your daily life.
And the reasons are quite simple.
You see, when you journal your thoughts and write down how you feel about various things, you are essentially giving a solid form to your otherwise intangible thoughts and emotions.
This alone can help you make better sense of your psychological state.
It can also help you identify patterns and themes in your behavior, understand your motivations, make sense of your strengths and weaknesses, and a lot more.
And the great thing about this is that it happens in a totally unbiased manner because it’s just you and your journal.
In life, it is important to listen to feedback from others.
But before that, you need to be open to receiving feedback in the first place.
Most people are so averse to this idea that they don’t want to listen to a single word said about them under any circumstance.
But if you want to enhance your self-awareness, you need to do this.
You see, when you get genuine feedback, it helps you understand critical aspects of yourself. It shines a light on those dimensions of you that you might never even acknowledge!
Feedback might reveal to you your weaknesses, true potential, how you interact with other people, how you behave under stress, how you face challenges, and so on.
Getting to know all these things can really open up your mind and send you into a state of deep realization.
You come face to face with the truth and all you can do is accept it.
Emotional triggers are events or situations that cause you to experience specific emotions.
This is why they are known as triggers.
Now, an emotional trigger can be a person, a place, a word, a situation, and even a certain time of the day.
Also, the emotions that are triggered can either be positive or negative.
No matter which type of emotion is surfacing as a result of external stimuli, you need to be conscious of it.
This is because it can help you understand why you feel a certain way in certain situations.
It can help you explore the deeper workings of your mind and see if there are any past events or experiences attached to your triggers.
For example, if you get enraged when someone raises their voice at you, this might be a hint toward a difficult childhood where you ad to deal with similar situations that create some kind of trauma.
In fact, many people find that past trauma creates a lot of negative triggers that lead to all sorts of painful emotions.
Instead of ignoring these, if they take charge of them, they can heal themselves once and for all. You can do the same for yourself.
This is a fun little exercise that can provide you with a lot of deep insights.
This involves spending about half an hour drawing a timeline of your entire timeline.
You could do this on chart paper or even in a notebook.
The idea is to mark the major events in your life, starting with your birth.
For example, you could mark the day you started going to school, the day you graduated college, the day when you got your first job, the date of your marriage, the day you achieved a meaningful side project, and so on.
As you mark each event, you could go down memory lane and think about how that day was and how that event made you feel.
Then, think about how you see that event now and how far you have come since then.
You would be surprised just how much this simple exercise can tell you about yourself.
It would be especially helpful to get new perspectives on some of the difficult times you had to go through in life.
There is a reason why so many people love to travel.
Not only does it provide a break from the normal routine, but it also allows you to see the world out there and experience new places, food, people, events, and so on.
As many people rightly believe, traveling opens you up to things that you would otherwise never get to experience.
For example, if you visit the Grand Canyon, you would be amazed at your reaction to it. This would tell you that you value beauty in life.
Similarly, you might meet people who give you entirely new perspectives on life.
You may gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a human.
All of this not only helps you grow but also learn a lot more about yourself.
For example, the way you face various situations and challenges during your travel might reveal some of your hidden strengths to you.
Your habits tell a lot about you.
In fact, a stranger could learn a lot of intimate details about you just by observing your daily habits.
We might think of these habits as non-consequential activities that we do for leisure.
But the truth is that habits are guided by your innermost desires, values, needs, and current state of life.
For example, if you are drinking a lot of coffee right now, it could tell other people that you are overloaded with work!
So, what you need to do is sit down for a few minutes every day and think about your habits.
Try to figure out which of them are the most enjoyable to you and why. Then think about all those habits that you do out of compulsion.
Again, think about the underlying reasons. Doing this will help you understand your involuntary behavior and actions with more depth.
It will also shine a light on things that warm your soul.
Similar to the point about traveling above, going out of your comfort zone and trying out new things is a great way to learn more about yourself.
It brings to light those aspects of you that were probably hidden within.
For instance, if you have never spoken in public, but push yourself to do it one day, you might realize that you happen to be a great speaker.
From that day onwards, one more door opens for you in life.
So, try to actively seek new experiences.
In the beginning, this might be intimidating, but you will soon start enjoying it.
To that end, you might join a music class, a sports club, a local charity cause, a writing class, and so on. You could also talk to strangers more often at cafes, parks, public transport, etc.
When you are with friends, you could try something new whenever you are presented with an opportunity, and so on.
This is one of the greatest points on this list.
And it also happens to be one of the most popular ones, especially among younger people.
You see your personality basically tells you who you are.
After all, it is the sum total of everything that makes you, you.
So, it is only obvious that when you take a personality test, it will reveal to you things about yourself that you could have never discovered on your own.
And the beauty of personality tests is that they are designed in a way where you can be completely honest.
Also, you can’t deceive these tests to give you a certain result (I mean, why would you even try to do that!).
Anyway, the results of your test will tell you which type you belong to. And that alone will tell you everything you need to know about your personality.
Some tests go even further and talk about the deepest aspects of your behavior, values, desires, strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
All in all, it is a very revealing experience, to say the least.
Another great way to increase self-awareness is to talk to your loved ones.
These are the people who know you the best, and they can provide valuable feedback and insights into your behavior and actions.
They may also be able to share their perspectives on your past experiences and can give you an idea of how others see you.
The key is to be open to their feedback and to listen to them with an open mind.
You can start with the loved one that you are most comfortable with. And you could simply tell them that you are trying to enhance your self-awareness and that you need their help.
I am sure they will be happy to tell you all about yourself!
Once you get everything you need from that person, you can turn to the next.
I think it’s a good idea if you take down notes while you are talking to them.
Later, you could go back to the notes, and spend hours contemplating the mystery of who you really are.
This might seem weird to you at first, but hear me out.
Your loved ones will obviously tell you many things about you. Some of these things might even surprise you.
However, the people with whom you have had a bad experience in the past will be even more honest with you.
That’s because they won’t be afraid to tell you all those things that could potentially hurt you.
For example, if you talk to your ex-girlfriend, she might tell you all the annoying things about you. She could tell you why she left you or why things didn’t work out between the two of you.
These things might be hard to hear but they will also help you get a more honest view of yourself.
And eventually, you can use your learnings and become a better version of yourself.
This too is a great way to enhance your self-awareness.
It involves writing about the traits that you admire in others.
You see, when you reflect on the qualities that you find admirable in others, you get a better understanding of what you value in life and what you would like to cultivate in yourself.
For example, if you admire someone for their honesty, you may want to work on being more honest in your own life.
If you admire someone for their kindness, you may want to develop your own compassion.
This is all valuable data that will reveal deeper dimensions of you.
This self-reflection can be a way to gain insights into your own values, beliefs, and aspirations which can help you to identify what you want to change or develop about yourself.
Writing down your goals can help you clarify what you want to achieve in life.
But more importantly, it will help you understand why you want to achieve it in the first place.
This can be an enlightening process.
After all, it tells you the most fundamental desires that drive you in life.
This can not only renew your sense of motivation and help you achieve your dreams and goals but also make you more mindful of setting newer and more meaningful goals. ( check our article about how to strive for consistent improvement Here)
So, take out your diary and write down all your key plans and goals.
You could also stick a copy on your wall, which will ensure that they are always in your field of view.