Learning about what gives us fulfillment and energy is one of the most difficult and rewarding parts of life. Being able to decipher what is the most important in the noise and outside pressures around us — can be draining. That said, the more that you understand and love yourself, the easier it is to live as the best version of yourself. That means you must become more self-aware.
Some people learn a lot about themselves early on and others struggle for quite some time. Part of that can be explained by upbringing and part by luck. Of course, there are a host of other unknown factors in between that can stand in the way of becoming more self-aware. Nevertheless, increased self-awareness is the best way to further understand both who you are and live as that person every day.
Below are five actionable tips designed to help you become more self-aware:
1. Learn how to spend time by yourself and do it.
Studies show that some people would literally rather receive electric shocks than spend significant time alone. There is nothing wrong with people that do not like being by themselves. Yet, that time alone with our thoughts is crucial. It gives us a chance to decompress and think about all of the things that have been going on.
Thinking about how certain activities or people make us feel is a great way to decide how we want to act moving forward. When you are always around others, though, you do not get the time to think about these things.
This thinking could come in many different forms. Some people like to go for runs, others take a week-long personal vacation, some write before bed. It does not matter what your thing is, as long as it works for you and gives you a chance to think.
2. Be honest with yourself.
One of the worst (and often easiest) things that you can do is lie to yourself. It is hard to have a life that we do not find consistent with our beliefs. Therefore, if we take a job that we end up not liking or have been in a two-year relationship that we dislike, we are inclined to convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing.
It really sounds harsh to say “lying,” even to yourself, because lying is known as such a despicable habit. You don’t have to beat yourself up over this. Sometimes, it helps a person deal with awful stuff in life — and maybe you’ll feel better at the moment. But, you don’t want to make lying to yourself a habit, that will began to eat at you.
More importantly not being totally honest with oneself will not help you become more self-aware, and won’t help you become a better person or entrepreneur. The more we are comfortable lying to ourselves, or pretending to be more than we are, the more we are likely to stray away from our true identity.
It is really hard to look in the mirror and realize that we are not acting in a way that aligns or is consistent with our beliefs or what we want to become. It can be even harder to change those habits that have been incorporated into our actions.
But, taking those steps to be as true to yourself as possible, as difficult as that might be at first, will make life much easier down the road.
3. Learn more about the world.
We are limited in knowledge of what we have learned about and done. Therefore, the more we know and experience, the more exposure we will have to the world. There are ideas, jobs and intellectual pursuits that invoke passion in us. If we do not ever touch the surface of those things, though, then we will not know we have the interests.
Going out of your comfort zone to try new things helps push our limits and perspective. This could come from travel, talking with people from different backgrounds, reading more, trying new activities and so on.
4. Be open to new ideas.
Exposure to new ideas serves two important functions. One is that it makes us consider different perspectives and ways of thinking. The second is that it makes us question our own beliefs and values. We are often not forced to question and defend our view of the world or our rationale for decision making.
It is easy to surround ourselves with people, ideas, and content that fits our beliefs. Being uncomfortable, though, helps us build more conviction in our current beliefs while considering new ones.
Beyond exposing yourself to new ideas is keeping an open mind to these ideas that are different than yours may be. Instead of rejecting something or someone you disagree with instantly, think about how this can positively challenge your current viewpoints.
5. Objectively observe yourself.
Even though we are quite literally with ourselves 100 percent of the time, there is so much about ourselves that we have to learn.
Each day we have thousands of thoughts and experiences. The way we act in those times is a great indicator of the type of person we tend to embody. Taking a step back and looking at those thoughts and actions can provide a much deeper insight into yourself.
Observing, but not judging, our own actions and thoughts give us a much better idea of why they are coming about. This internal reflection can be hard, but when we look objectively, it helps us see the truth. For example, if I notice myself always bragging around new people I meet, it is likely indicating a desire for attention or importance. If I find myself always wondering if I am with the best people, it indicates a lack of presence and potentially that I do not like my friends.
Become More Self-Aware
Each experience we have helps us build a constellation of who we are and how we act. Looking at that constellation and finding the shinning-star moments we most enjoy — as well as the moments or situations we really did not do as well as we would like to — can be an invaluable way to increase self-awareness.