If there is one thing I could teach all of my clients, it would be the skill of self-awareness. This article will give you tips on how to develop your self-awareness and why it's so important.
Why it matters
Without self-awareness, any kind of change is pretty impossible - if you aren't aware of a problem and how it works, it's going to be challenging to make difference in this area.
In particular, self-awareness is the main ingredient in managing our emotions. In most models of emotional regulation; being aware of, understanding and labelling your emotions are usually over half of the steps prescribed in order to have a healthy relationship with your emotions. Even just labelling your emotions, without doing anything else, can be enough to modify the intensity of an emotion (Marc Brackett, Permission to Feel).
Self-awareness also gives us an opportunity to choose our response within a situation. If we allow ourselves time and space to reflect on what we want to do, as opposed to reacting in the heat of the moment, we're much more likely to make choices that are driven by our values and how we want to show up in the world.
So how can we develop this skill?
Create space for reflection
Like any skill to be mastered, self-awareness requires commitment and practice. If you don't dedicate any time to this, then you won't experience any development. Make it a regular habit to check in with yourself. Set a reminder on your phone so you don't miss it.
Be honest with yourself
This practice can be therapeutic and exciting, but usually only once you've gone through some discomfort! It's not easy to be brutally honest with yourself about where you're not following through on what you said you would do. It's challenging to make space for difficult emotions and sit with them. But it's definitely worth it. Just because you aren't aware of something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The key is to be open and honest, but not judgemental.
Keep track of your learnings
It can be helpful to write down your thoughts and how you're feeling - particularly if you have any trouble accessing this. An emotion wheel can help if you struggle with labelling your emotions.
A helpful framework can be:
How am I feeling?
Has anything triggered this emotion?
How do I know which emotion this is (e.g. physical sensations, energy or thoughts specific to that emotion)?
What stories am I telling myself right now?
How would I like to feel?
What could help me with this?
Celebrate your wins
It's likely that with self-awareness your wins could be either huge revelations or simply just putting one foot in front of the other. The wins I enjoy the most is looking back and realising how far I have come. That maybe a month or a year ago, I would've responded to the situation in a more unhelpful way than I have right now. Acknowledge the growth you are experiencing and thank yourself for taking the time to build this self-awareness.
I hope you found this article helpful! Please let me know what your key takeaway was - I hang out on Instagram and you can find me @meg_sloan_ - I'd love to hear from you.