(The following is a special release from University of Illinois Extension.)
In self-care classes, often take some time to reflect on self-awareness. Sharing with students, that while it takes a certain amount of self-awareness to practice self-care, the practice itself also builds self-awareness.
So, what words come to your mind when you hear the word self-awareness? Responses I’ve received in class include understanding your: strengths, weakness, skills, interests, and abilities. Yes, all of the above absolutely play a role in having awareness of ourselves. I searched for definitions of self-awareness and found the following: An awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.Merriam Webster and “Knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions”. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence.
Goleman’s definition emphasizes our ability to monitor our thoughts and emotions as they arise. Many experts agree that being aware of our emotions and thoughts from moment to moment is key to understanding ourselves better, being at peace with who we are, and proactively managing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Individuals who are self-aware are more likely to be compassionate to themselves and others. Self-awareness has also been linked as a critical trait of successful business leaders.
You may or may not be surprised to find many of the self-care strategies we have discussed thus far also serve to cultivate self-awareness. These tools include: Meditation – Meditation assists with improving moment-by-moment awareness. Start by taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing. Journaling – Begin tracking your most positive and most negative feelings. Begin to notice patterns and trends as well as your triggers.Seek feedback from others – Understanding how you come across to others is an important step in building self-awareness. Ask trusted friends, family, and colleagues for honest, critical, and objective perspectives.
My hope is that this post will encourage you to take note of how self-aware you are and how this awareness blossoms as you continue the practice of self-care. While building self-awareness is a life-long journey, my belief is that you will discover the many joys it brings every step of the way.