As we live each day, it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of our world. Following the latest trends and allowing social media and our friends to tell us how to think and what to feel. It can be hard to return to our roots and to know what you think when no one else is involved.
Self-awareness and self-understanding revolve around the idea of knowing yourself. It is about more than knowing that your favorite color is green and that you would prefer to drive rather than fly. It is about knowing if you recharge better around other people or by yourself. If you are happy with your job or activities. If you are satisfied with your life.
Five good ways to help you gain self-awareness and self-understanding are:
Spend time in self-reflection
Whether it is walking through a park, sitting in your room, or spending time doing a peaceful activity such as painting, sewing, journaling, or cooking, you need to reflect on yourself.
Psychologytoday.com author Bill George says that “You can’t gain self-awareness through knowing psychology. Rather, it requires a deep understanding of your past and current self. Experiences shape how we see the world. So, we have to reflect on how the world has shaped us.” The best way to understand yourself is to spend time with yourself.
Spend time in nature
There are many locations throughout our world dedicated as spots for humans to spend time outside. Typically, these places are provided by governments or other leading bodies and can be accessed for free or a small fee. Local parks, national parks, botanic gardens, greenhouses, and more all give humans a safe and peaceful place to relax and connect to nature.
Heart.org says that time spent in nature can help reduce stress, anxiety, disconnection, fatigue, self-involvement, and more. When we spend time outside, we can reflect, breathe, and take a moment to reconnect to our most primal self. In nature, there are no constant emails or smartphone alerts. There is only plenty of time and space to consider ourselves and our place in the world.
Receive honest feedback
It can be difficult for us to see our shortcomings. We often become so focused on all the good things that we do, that we are unable to see any areas for improvement. Receiving honest feedback from people you trust is the best way to see your areas that need improvement.
Harvard Business Review author Tasha Eurich stated that in her team’s studies on self-awareness, “we found that people who improved their external self-awareness did so by seeking out feedback from loving critics — that is, people who have their best interests in mind and are willing to tell them the truth. To ensure they don’t overreact or over correct based on one person’s opinion, they also gut-check difficult or surprising feedback with others.”
Think about others
By helping others, we help ourselves. When we empathize with other humans, we learn more about them. This understanding helps us to understand ourselves as well, providing a double benefit to caring for others.
Marianna Pogosyan’s article on Psychology.com talks about how we are neurobiologically made to empathize with other humans and animals. Empathizing is a building block of our morality, and not only does it help us be better leaders and improve our relationships, but it also helps us improve ourselves.
Make time for yourself
You will spend a lot of time doing things for other people throughout your life. Make sure you spend enough time doing things for yourself as well. Take up some space to do the things that you love. Among your self-reflection, take time to care for yourself such as a relaxing bath while you think.
Meg Sellg author from Psychologytoday.com recommends that you discover your VITAL Signs. V for values, I for interests, T for temperament, A for around-the-clock activities, L for life mission, and S for strengths.
Author Tchiki Davis at Psychologytoday.com says that "Self-awareness requires self-examination. Be aware, though, that an honest, non-judgmental self-analysis isn’t easy. We tend to berate ourselves for our failings or fantasize about how great we are, when neither is actually the case. We all have a unique mix of “good” and “bad” traits, but we are largely unaware of them. In order to self-reflect objectively, we need to quiet our minds and open our hearts, forgiving ourselves for our imperfections and offering ourselves kudos, but only where we deserve them.”
Eurich says that “Leaders who focus on building both internal and external self-awareness, who seek honest feedback from loving critics, and who ask what instead of why can learn to see themselves more clearly – and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers.”
These five tips of spending time in self-reflection, spending time in nature, receiving honest feedback, thinking about others, and making time for yourself can help you to continue to gain self-understanding and self-awareness in your life.