“Know thy self” is one of the oldest quotes regarding self-awareness. People have been advised of this since the dawn of time. It is important to know yourself. That’s called self-awareness.
Webster defines self-awareness as the thinking skill that focuses on one’s ability to accurately judge their own performance and behavior and respond appropriately to different social situations. This means to be conscious and aware of yourself. It is the ability to accurately access oneself.
The person who lacks self-motivation but wants to be an entrepreneur lacks self-awareness. The person who wants to be healthy but continues to eat unhealthy fast foods lacks self-awareness. Anyone who is not being truthful with themselves and responding appropriately lacks self-awareness.
Stephen Covey says, “Self-awareness involves a deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions.”
When I look back on my life I can see times when I practiced self-awareness and times when I deceived myself. When I first started speaking I was not very good at all. I recognized this and joined not one but many Toastmasters clubs. I knew that I needed to overly indulge in learning speaking skills. I participated in all the contests, took on every challenge and eventually I became good at public speaking.
If I had not been aware of my shortcomings in the area of speaking, I would have kept on doing what I was doing which was nothing. I was just walking around thinking I was a speaker but I wasn’t doing anything to improve. I wasn’t doing what speakers do, speak.
Self-awareness allows you to self-correct. Being aware of my shortcomings made all the difference in the world. Testing myself, challenging myself and being willing to learn is how I became a speaker.
Understanding our thinking and our emotions is emotional intelligence. The key to emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman is the ability to monitor our emotions and thoughts. This is the key to understanding ourselves and being at peace with who we are.
We can manage our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. We do this by being focused on what we are thinking and feeling. When we focus on our thoughts and feelings we discover that we can control and manage them.
My method for practicing self-awareness and managing my thoughts and behaviors begins with my self-talk. I talk positively to myself. I encourage myself. I chastise myself. I listen to positive messages and recite encouraging quotes.
I start this practice each morning before I even get out of bed. I have positive YouTube videos that I watch instead of checking my email and Facebook messages. I listen to talks about rising early and running and exercising while others sleep. I make sure that I have running gear that makes me feel like an athlete when I put it on. I pump energetic music thru my earpods.
I do all these things because I know what it takes to get me started. I know that I will feel better about myself all day if I get up and get my run in. I call it “winning the morning”. If you win the morning you’re more likely to win the day.
After my run and a shower I will spend time meditating and planning my day. I do this because I know that I am much more productive when I have a plan. A written plan.
One thing I know about myself is that I love to have a To Do List. I love to cross things off the list. I get such a feeling of accomplishment. It’s like a shot of endorphins.
Since I know this about myself I spend serious time making a To Do List each day. Having the To Do List helps me to know more about myself, what’s important to me, what do I get done and when and why do I procrastinate. It adds to my self-awareness.
There are many other ways to practice self-awareness. You can keep a journal. You can write down your goals, plans and priorities. You can meditate and practice mindfulness. There are also personality test you can take. Or you can just ask a trusted friend to describe you and see how that matches your own description.
Anything that we can do to see ourselves more clearly will lead to self-awareness. Seeing ourselves clearly will make us more honest, less likely to lie, cheat or steal. We will search for ways to improve because we honestly access ourselves.
When we know ourselves we are even more compassionate with others. I think this is why since ancient times we have been told the first law is “to know thyself”. Knowing ourselves is how we successfully navigate through life.
“Yesterday I was clever and I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise and I want to change myself.” – Rumi