The reality is most of the stuff that we are doing on a day to day basis are all autopilot. Our habits, daily routines and reactions are those that we don’t usually had much consciousness whenever we are doing it. It require us minimal effort to do as it has already been imparted with our life, and everything seems automatic.
The problem happens when we are on an autopilot for so long that we forget to be aware of the stuff that we are doing when we are in our autopilot mode. Such as the habits we are doing, thoughts that we are thinking, and each of our reactions to a certain circumstances.
That’s where self-awareness comes in.
WHAT IS SELF-AWARENESS?
Mark Manson defined this as;
“Self-awareness is our ability to observe and accurately identify our thoughts, feelings and impulses, and determine whether they are grounded in reality or not.”
It is an ability that is innate to each one of us. This is one of the reason why people continues to thrive among the animal kingdom. We are not made just to be on an autopilot, but it is just our brain’s way of conserving its energy. This is also necessary for humans to survive.
However, the problem lies when we have been autopilot for too long that we totally forget about it. This creates a less fulfilling way of living.
For example, imagine staying at the job for several decades which pays good amount but you’re unhappy and bored. Although the job gives you good amount of cash but since it doesn’t give you the fulfillment you still felt unhappy and bored.
Self-awareness is critical in this part to understand, “what is making you unhappy with you job?” or “What are the things that would challenge you or excite if you will be going to other jobs?”. Those two questions is a result of being self-aware on your thoughts and feelings.
Now, let’s understand what are the types of self-awareness.
TYPE OF SELF-AWARENESS
There are two broad categories for self-awareness according to Harvard Business Review;
1) Internal self-awareness
This is represents how clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others. Studies have been conducted that internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.
These are those kind of self-awareness about questioning your own beliefs and values. This is more focus on how we see things from our own thoughts and lens.
2) External self-awareness
This means understanding how other people view us, in terms of those same factors listed above. It shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. For leaders who see themselves as their employees do, their employees tend to have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied with them, and see them as more effective in general.
This category is about knowing about your surroundings, being more emphatic and compassionate towards the others are some of the products of external self-awareness.
BENEFITS OF BEING SELF-AWARE
1. Improve skills by recognizing what you do well and what you need to improve
This helps you to see what you are good at and what you needs to be improve. Without being self-aware, we will function in an autopilot without realizing that we have to improve some of our skills.
2. Raise happiness levels by aligning your ideals with your actions
Often times we are not really aware about our actions and reactions on a day to day basis. People would often caught us doing something that is contrary to what we are saying. You might say that you are organized but only to find out the people often see you differently.
I’m not saying that you have to listen to what others are saying but being self-aware on what others are saying can help you see the other side of the coin. This gives you better understanding from other people’s lens, hits helps you whether what you believed and what other is seeing is align with your actions.
3. Become a better leader by understanding how other people perceive your behavior
Being self-aware doesn’t always mean that you have to catch your thoughts but also to have deeper understanding on the people around you. Being extra sensitive or in this case aware towards the people you are leading or even just the people around you helps you to become more of a leader.
We often feel that we are doing the right thing (that’s commonly our own bias) however, you can judge it more logically and fairly if you will have a different lens or understanding from how other people is seeing it.
4. Strengthen work and personal relationships by managing emotions
There are times that we just wanted to fight back whenever we feel offended by what others are saying. The sudden burst of emotion and the words that you might say can harm your relationship especially when everything just came out of your reaction, without even thinking what you will say.
Self-awareness helps you regulate your emotions and think logically. Proactively responding can definitely solve more problems rather than just reacting towards the situation. Have a better control of your emotions can help you strengthen your relationship towards other people.
5. Decrease stress by identifying emotions and lessening tasks you don’t enjoy
Self-awareness can also help you enjoy more your work. Understanding what challenges you or excites you towards you work, gives you a deeper meaning on what you are doing on a day-to-day basis. This also helps you understand those task that stresses you the most. Knowing this helps you plan ahead and prepare for it.
The first step to become successful is to be self-aware. Deeply knowing your values, thoughts, emotions and understanding the people around you helps you have a clear lens of how you can live your life. This gives you clarity on what is truly important to you. Self-awareness is the start of knowing who you are and defining where your life will go.