Understand Yourself Better: A Beginners Guide To Self-Awareness
Whether you feel disconnected from yourself, you’ve noticed that all of your relationships tend to end in the same way and now you’re wondering, “what does that mean about the patterns I engage in?”, or you’ve noticed that others around you seem to be able to reflect on the way they act and you wish you could take stock of your life in the way they do, self-awareness is likely the solution that you’re looking for.
Self-awareness is an absolute game-changer when it comes to creating a life that truly fulfils you: it promotes deeper connections, allows you to break patterns that don’t align with what you want, and can make you feel more sure of yourself and your desires.
So, are you ready to experience these benefits in your life? Well, good news, this article is here to help you into and guide you through the world of understanding yourself better!
What Is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is exactly what it sounds like: the ability to be aware of yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions. Self-awareness relates to being able to understand yourself in a deeper way so that you can determine what you do and don’t like, what aligns with your life goals and desires, and what you will and won’t stand for in relationships with others.
However, it’s not all about understanding what you want from your external life, it’s also about being able to look at yourself introspectively. An important element of self-awareness is being able to recognise and assess your emotions, thoughts, traumas, patterns, triggers, and behaviours.
Although you may believe that self-awareness is either a talent you do or don’t hold, it’s actually a skill that needs to be practised and worked on - this is good news because it means that anyone can become self-aware and use this wonderful skill to cultivate a life that truly fulfils them.
Why Is Self-Awareness So Important?
Leading a life without any element of self-awareness, or even occasionally practising self-reflective thought, can cause you to live in a way that doesn’t actually align with what you want. Not being self-aware may lead you to go along with the plans of others, cause you to feel lost and unsure, and ultimately, leave you feeling disconnected from yourself.
Additionally, without self-awareness, you may realise that you end up with relationships and connections in your life that simply don’t fulfil you. You may experience destructive and ongoing patterns in relationships but not be able to break them, or you might simply not be getting your needs met within your relationships.
So, self-awareness is clearly incredibly important!
What Are The Main Benefits Of Self-Awareness?
Although we’ve had a look at why self-awareness is so important (or more specifically how we can suffer when we don’t practice self-awareness), let’s take a look at the main benefits you will experience from honing the skill of self-awareness.
Being self-aware can help you not only recognise if relationships are right for you - because of the introspective practices you put into place whilst in them - but they can also help you to avoid repeating negative patterns and work through triggers that may otherwise be detrimental to your relationships.
Rather than allowing your emotions to cloud your mind and make you feel engaged with other thoughts rather than the task you want to be at hand with, being self-aware can help you clear your mind and become more mindful, leading to an increase in productivity and allowing you to become more present.
If you’re someone that finds decision-making (no matter how minor or serious), practising self-awareness can help you tap into your emotions and say “yes” to decisions that truly align with your life, and say “no” and set boundaries for those that don’t.
Practising self-awareness can help you further understand the links between situations, emotions, and your mood. This can help you to realise when situations are affecting your mood, whilst also allowing you to understand that the emotions you experience affect your mood directly (this might sound obvious, but often we have a lot of emotions that we ignore and push down, not allowing them to affect us in the present moment). Therefore, having a deeper understanding of yourself can help you regulate your emotions, allowing you the ability to actively choose how you feel in the present moment.
Practising self-awareness allows you to understand your needs, desires, and dreams more clearly. Therefore, once you have a deeper understanding of yourself, you’re able to actively create a life that fulfils you - you can find partners, jobs, hobbies, and friends that align with you. Alternatively, when something doesn’t align with what you want in life, you will be more able to recognise that and say “no” to it.
6 Ways To Improve Your Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is like any skill: you have to practice it over and over again to truly get the hang of it and for it to become a naturally and effortlessly practised habit. Even if you’re a complete beginner to self-awareness, you may be surprised at how often you already do these practices without knowing - the trick is to just consciously practice these habits and actively develop a better understanding of yourself.
So, here are 6 ways in which you can improve your self-awareness and develop a deeper understanding of yourself.
Self-reflection, whether done by sitting with a journal or by simply going on a walk and thinking about your week on a weekly basis can help you get to know yourself, your thoughts, and your patterns better. Ask yourself questions such as, “when did I feel my happiest this week?” “what has felt difficult for me recently?”, and “what experience has made me feel peaceful this week?”. Taking this time to self-reflect on a regular basis can help you better understand yourself and your emotions in the long run.
Although you may want to shy away from doing the more “difficult” inner work, an important part of practising self-awareness is also identifying and reflecting on emotional triggers and negative situations. If there is a particular situation you find uncomfortable in, take a moment to check in with yourself and try to think about why it’s making you uncomfortable (for example, is it crossing a boundary for you?). Being able to identify moments in life and especially in relationships, that make you feel triggered in some way or set off a specific negative reaction within you can also help you move through certain traumas and help you to stop repeating detrimental patterns.
A massive part of increasing your self-awareness is being able to understand what you actually want from life. Obviously, this is a huge task and not everyone knows what they want in the next year, five years, or ten years. However, I’m not talking about a future plan, I’m talking about what you want from life right now - what are your values and goals for your life currently? Take time to think about what you want and then set boundaries (READ OUR BOUNDARIES ARTICLE) according to your values. Doing this allows you to become more self-aware and truly create the life that you want.
Although you can move through different personality types and attachment styles within your life as you grow and change, it can be useful to do some research into these things to help you understand how you naturally function, what you can do to support your specific personality and attachment style, and how you can grow if you aren’t currently happy with the patterns or emotions showing up in your life due to these things. The more knowledge you have, the more conscious and aware you can become about yourself, your actions, and your emotions.
Whether it’s an ex-partner that you reach out to in order to understand how you can do better in future romantic relationships or a colleague you ask to help you get to grips with where you may be falling short, asking for feedback from those around you about yourself can help you become more self-aware. Just make sure you’re asking people who are not just honest, but also genuinely want the best for you and are kind, otherwise, you might receive negative critiques instead of constructive criticism.
If you practice all of the tips above and realise that there are some things you’d like to change about yourself, your patterns, or your life in general, you can take action: you have the power to reprogramme your thoughts and change your life in the way that you want. Although it takes time and commitment to work on yourself and reprogramme your thoughts, you can do it: having self-awareness can also mean actively making changes to the things that don’t align with what you actually want, deep down.
Self-Awareness Is About Yourself, But The Journey There Doesn’t Need To Walked Alone
Although solitude and introspection can definitely be impactful when it comes to practising self-awareness, remember that you don’t need to journey into this world alone: you can receive support from a therapist, a coach, groups, or even just from educational content.
So, let’s explore being more self-aware, as a collective.