Building Self Awareness is developing the ability to understand oneself; the ability to understand one’s own thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Knowing oneself well has obvious advantages; we are able to decide what’s better for ourselves, relate well with people around us and define a course of life that is far more fulfilling and satisfying.
A lot of the issues we face in life – be it in the choices we make or the way we relate with others, in personal life and at work, stem from not pausing to reflect upon what we really want and upon our past experiences, thoughts and feelings.
Building Self Awareness sounds simple and logical when we talk about it; but most often we aren’t truly aware of ourselves. We presume we know what we want or why we act or behave the way we do; but the fact is, the real reasons for our actions are often hidden deep within us.
To understand ourselves, we therefore need to unwrap the many covers over the mind.
Learning that impacts our attitude to life
Our learning in life starts right from birth. The support and affection received or not received from parents starts this learning journey. It gains momentum as we get exposed to others such as other relatives, siblings, teachers, schoolmates, other friends, strangers etc.
Every good or bad experience leaves an imprint and repeated experiences of the same type deepen the imprint.All these experiences shape our attitude towards others and towards one’s own life.
By developing self awareness, by exploring ourselves from within, we identify the major and repetitive experiences that have left a good or bad impact on our attitudes. So we identify what drives us and what inhibits us in life.
This awareness, in turn, can be used to change one’s thoughts, feelings and behavior, in order to live a happier and contented life.
How do we go about building self awareness?
The following are nine steps that can help in improving one’s self awareness.
1.Identify behavior patterns–
To start with, it is important to identify issues we often get confronted with; and seem to be bogged down with.
- Do we see issues which are repetitive?
- Do we always have similar reactions to the issues?
- Are the issues resolved always in one particular way?
- Or do issues remain unresolved each time?
2. Identify typical thoughts and feelings–
- What are the things that make us happy?
- What do we get disturbed, irritated or angry with frequently?
- What often generates fear within us ?
- What makes us sad?
- What makes us happy and content?
3. Finding the root cause of the behavior patterns–
- Take each key behavior pattern and reflect back on when it may have started; what experience triggered it.
- Dispassionately Analyse the old experience- be it something with parents or others; accept for what it is and work to move on from there.
4. Identify life goals and aspirations-
- What are our immediate and long term goals in life?
- Can we identify our own behavior traits that have stopped us from achieving these?
- What changes do we want to bring about to go further?
5. Write out a plan
Work out how you would like to bring about changes in the way you act and react, as well as in the specific direction one would want to move ahead.
6. As a part of developing self awareness, learn to become mindful–
- Be conscious of the present, knowing well that we need to be observant about every situation and
- Consciously change the way we respond. This will ensure the plan we made is actually implemented.
7. Share your concerns with someone
People close to us and who wish well for us, are the best people to share our concerns with; and take feedback as we work to bring about change.
8. Building self awareness is a continuous learning process
- Read articles and watch videos on topics related to human behaviour, mindfulness, relationships
- Attend training programs which help in introspection and behavioural skills
- Observe others, analyse characters in films, to understand human behaviour better.
9. Take Professional help
Lastly, if there are some difficulties in understanding yourself or others; or in bringing change, do not hesitate or feel awkward in taking professional help. Counsellors, Therapists and Life Coaches can help cross the bridge.
The earlier this exercise of building self awareness starts in life, the longer its impact on the overall sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
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