'You just have to love yourself', 'Practice self-love and you will be okay', 'To love others, you need to love yourself first'...
There’s truth in each of these quotes, but I can’t help but wonder...
How can you love yourself if you don't really know yourself?
Lack of self-awareness is why so many of us struggle to find inner peace and enjoy the wonderful experiences life has to offer.
In this article, we'll take a look at the benefits of bringing more self-awareness to your daily life—and explore how you can start doing it today.
What is self-awareness and why is it important?
Self-awareness is your ability to have conscious knowledge of your character and feelings. It raises your consciousness, improves your mental clarity, and helps you become more centered in the here and now.
We lack self-awareness because we like to acknowledge what’s positive about our personalities and hide what we don’t approve of. That part we refuse to accept is called the shadow self. Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, defines the shadow self as all the traits you don’t want to associate with.
Here are my 3 tried-and-tested ways to develop self-awareness:
1. Get to know your inner critic
We all have that little voice in the back of our heads that tries to keep us stuck, lonely, and afraid. It keeps saying the same things over and over again, resulting in negative thought patterns.
To understand your inner critic, observe what situations lead to triggering thoughts and try to look at them from a new angle. In coaching, we call this reframing, or the act of looking at something from a different perspective. You can do that by asking the following questions, no matter what the situation:
- What happened?
- What thoughts or images went through my mind?
- What emotions did I experience as a result? How intense were they, from 1 to 10?
- What actions did I take as a result?
- What could I have done differently? How will I respond better in the future?
2. Create a daily practice of self-reflection
Self-reflection is one of the most powerful ways to develop self-awareness. There are many ways to practice self-reflection. Here are my suggestions from what I’ve seen work the best:
* Meditation - it enables you to focus on your breath, calm your mind, and become an observer of your thoughts.
* Mindfulness - it centers you into the present moment by sharpening your senses intentionally and looking at your surroundings non-judgmentally.
* Daily journal - it helps you process difficult feelings, gets rid of thoughts that are cluttering your mind, and unleashes your creativity.
* Ancient books of wisdom - reading ancient philosophical books such as Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius can increase your consciousness and take your self-awareness to the next level.
* Quiet time in nature - it helps you reconnect with yourself and tune in to your feelings without all the distractions from your daily life.
If you're not sure which self-reflection practice is the best fit for you, give them all a try and see what resonates with you the most.
3. See yourself from a different perspective
Self-awareness is about knowing and accepting every part of your personality so that you can learn to embrace it and integrate it into your life.
Here's a quick exercise to find your blind spots and make them more visible to you.
Ask someone you trust (friend, spouse, etc.) the following questions:
- What is my biggest strength, according to you?
- What is my greatest weakness, according to you?
- How do I react in tough situations?
- What do you think makes me the happiest?
- If you had to give me one piece of advice, what would it be?
Asking these questions will give you a different perspective of yourself. If you get defensive of some of the comments, you've hit a gold mine.
Every time you feel personally attacked, that's a sign that you've been ignoring a part of yourself. Next time you feel offended, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has someone called me ____ before and the word itself triggers me in some way?
- In what situations have I reacted in a ____ way?
- Do I associate being ____ with being a bad person?
- What can I do to accept this part of myself?
- How can I become more caring and loving?
When you get to know yourself better and ultimately, get rid of the things that don't serve you anymore, you will become a lighter, brighter, happier version of yourself.
Once you bring light to your shadow, it can no longer hold its power over you.
Coach Simona is a Certified Life Coach, Relationship Coach, and creator of the Clarity System™, a three-step approach that helps women raise their consciousness, become more confident in themselves and overcome codependency. She works with women who want to develop a healthier relationship with themselves and tap into their full potential. Book your complimentary 30-minute coaching session at https://coachsimona.com/book-a-free-session. You can follow Simona on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.