Self-awareness is the catalyst that accelerates all human growth. It is only when you are aware of things that you can consciously influence them. For example, it is talked about in stress management. First step is to identify your stress reactions. How do you do this? – By becoming aware of them. If you never knew that you got angry when hungry (or hangry) then you’d never know how to make yourself feel better when “randomly” angry. Therefore it starts with awareness; first being aware that you are acting differently, in this case angrily. Then you must identify what is making you feel this way. Once you’ve identified what is causing your stress then you can consciously come up with solutions to solve and prevent this particular stressor.
If you are being affected by a different type of stressor that you can’t control then you repeat the above process, but instead of trying to control what you can’t (the stressors), you focus on ways to de-stress. This process again, comes down to being aware of what activities, habits, people etc. allow you to vent your stress and feel better. I don’t want to digress too much about stress specifically. I just think it is a good example of the importance of self-awareness. Literally no matter how you want to deal with stress it begins with self-awareness.
This awareness is equally important in all aspects of your life. So, how do you build self-awareness? Some would say it just comes over time, and largely they are correct. As you experience life you become more and more aware all the time, aware of what you like to eat, how you like to train, what type of work you enjoy, how much sleep you need, what type of people you move towards etc. I believe there are ways to increase the rate at which you gain self-awareness.
In this world there are 3 circles of knowledge:
- Things that you know that you know: ex// I know that 2×2=4 and I am aware (I know) that I know that.
- Things that you know that you don’t know: ex// I don’t know exactly how many people live in my apartment building, and I’m aware (I know) that I don’t know that.
- Things that you don’t know that you don’t know: ex// A caveman gets defrosted today and sees a car – he has no idea (not aware) that there is an engine inside it making it move – not even aware of the idea of an engine.
These circles of knowledge apply to everything, including us. So, what about yourself do you not know that you don’t know? How do you discover these things? How does the caveman find out there is an engine in the car and what an engine is?
Two solutions I’ve thought of to increase one’s self-awareness are:
- Other people: others can let you know that you get hangry, you’re acting stressed, you have negative thought and speech patterns with regards to yourself or others, you over-exaggerate regularly, etc… It is often easier to see things in others than in our selves, so I believe people who are close to you can be a great help in building self-awareness.
- Patterns: recognizing trends and patterns, after enough occurrences, becomes statistically significant. Significant enough that only a few conclusions can be drawn from the pattern you have observed and only one of those is most likely to be true. For example, every time you consume lactose you’re running to a bathroom 45min later = you’re likely lactose intolerant. Nothing else would tell you this except for a medical test. If it happened only a few random times you wouldn’t pick up on it, but when it happens consistently enough it becomes valid and you are now aware that you are very likely lactose intolerant. Now you are in a position to consciously influence this situation.
These are the two main ways I can think of to help build self-awareness more quickly. At first they might be challenging. You may respond poorly to your loved ones telling you about your trends – be aware of how you react to them trying to help you and problem solve the dynamic until it is healthy and working for you. You may also have trouble identifying patterns in yourself, but like everything else in life it gets easier and you get better at it the more you do it. The result is more self-awareness, more self-mastery, and you will get more of what you want out of life and spend more time feeling how you want to feel.
If you have any other tips or advice on building awareness, or the benefits of high self-awareness, or a success story please comment below. Any questions or requests for more information are also very welcome!