These are some strange times we are living in my friends. I don’t know about you, but I will take all the extra superpowers I can get. For those of you that may be less familiar with emotional intelligence and some of the underlying themes, self-awareness is one of the building blocks to gaining greater emotional intelligence. We have to first become aware of what it is we are feeling and thinking before we can ever begin to manage and control those emotions.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
“Me, me, me, me, me”. That’s what my social media feeds look like lately. Sometimes it’s “You, you, you, you”. Meaning, “you should think this, you should do that, you should feel this, you should stop this”. You get the idea though. As humans we are pretty self-absorbed. If it doesn’t involve us or benefit us…a lot of us lose interest.
Cue the superhero theme. This is where self-awareness comes in. Self-awareness really just means you are able to recognize and manage your own complex range of emotions.
Most people spend their day in a fog of distraction. How long after you wake up until you pick up your cell phone? Don’t worry, I’m not lecturing you. I’m right there with you. From the cell phone to the laptop. TV. We stream music while we watch videos. It’s a constant influx of information.
The problem is as we become more connected by technology, we have lost a lot of the essential human interaction that fosters something called “mirroring”. This is where during a face to face conversation you start to mirror the other person in gestures and expressions. A lack of mirroring can actually cause things like anxiety, lack of empathy, and intense self-objectification.
If there was ever a time that we needed to work on our self-awareness. Now is the time.
THREE ACTION ITEMS TO START WORKING ON NOW
I want to give you three things you can start doing today that will help you improve your self-awareness. These are easy to practice and don’t take a lot of time. Here are my suggestions:
1. IMAGINE THE SITUATION FROM THE OTHER PERSPECTIVE
You’ve heard the old saying “put yourself in the other person’s shoes”. That is exactly what I
want you to imagine. If you get angry and start to lose your temper, you might feel it is
justified. Stop for a second and think what that looks like or feels like from the perspective
of the other person in the conversation. Do you still feel your behavior is justified? If you were watching a movie and someone was acting like you are, what would be your reaction? Stop and become more aware before reacting.
2. START JOURNALING
Writing in a journal is a powerful tool for self-awareness and self-reflection. The ability to sit
quietly with your thoughts and articulate them on paper can help you process through some of your emotions. This in turn may help you become more aware of what you are feeling. If you are new to journaling aim for 10 minutes daily. Try to stick to the same time each day in order to make it a habit that will stick.
3. BE CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
Self-awareness requires you to become aware of your own emotions. Many of us are out of touch with what we are feeling. When working with clients I often have them work on a simple sounding exercise that has deeper roots. Several times a day I have them set a reminder on their phone to do a “temperature check”. Generally, this is 6-8 times per day for a week until we meet next. During the temperature check they assess what they are feeling using a feelings chart. Sounds simple right? Unless you haven’t been considering your own feelings for years. It can be much harder than it sounds.
Whether you agree with me that self-awareness is a superpower or not, it is worth the time to develop it further. In the end it benefits you, your relationships, and your career. Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote I enjoy from well-known Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung, “Wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow”. He believed that what we dislike in others was a reflection of the “shadow” in us. Becoming more self-aware forces you to come to terms with your shadow.