I was asked the other day by a colleague “Why do you think self-awareness is so important Kate?”
Great question and a very thought provoking one! I realised that I hadn’t really verbalised specifically why self-awareness is such a cornerstone of my belief systems and coaching practise. It has been for many, many years!
Being a trainer and spending hundreds, if not thousands of days in front of groups, I have learnt how disruptive and problematic unaware people can be to the greater good. Often I’ll observe entire groups being disrupted by a single person who lacks the sensory acuity to see how their behaviour is impacting everyone else. On the other hand, I also see groups brought together and unified quickly and elegantly by a natural leader who knows how to influence and inspire.
The main distinction between these people is simply that one had a lot of self-awareness whilst the other didn’t.
In reality, a person doesn’t need to be self-aware to survive or even become successful. So why spend time observing yourself, learning about how you show up in different situations, and – most importantly – understanding your own patterns of behaviour?
Does having a genuine understanding of yourself have any significant benefits? Hell yeah it does! It has many! Below are some the biggest benefits I believe self-awareness will afford you.
Peace and Fulfillment
Some of the world’s most successful people will admit to not being content with all that money and fame has bought them. Something is lacking in their life and that is the ability to work out what their heart and soul really want. If we don’t spend time with ourselves, don’t hold ourselves to account, and if we lack the commitment to develop a relationship with ourselves, well it’s no surprise that we lack peace and fulfilment because we lack understanding.
Self-awareness in this situation is recognising your own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. This is a vital part in obtaining peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction with life (especially when life is throwing you curveballs).
To truly appreciate others, you first need to appreciate yourself. How do you appreciate yourself I hear you ask? You learn what makes you tick, what lights you up, how you move through the world, and what you bring to it. You celebrate your light and your dark and you become best friends with you.
When you have a positive relationship with yourself, you will have positive relationships with others. You will pay them more attention because you are already well practised at paying attention to yourself, and you will be more accepting of them because you have become so accepting of yourself. Have you ever come across a highly unaware person? They often hijack the conversation and turn it around to be about them; they say slightly inappropriate or antagonist comments because they don’t read their audience; and they tend to leach a bit of energy from the area.
It pretty much comes down to this simple fact: self-aware people know how to make others feel good, and people enjoy hanging out with people that make them feel good. It really is that simple. Your level of self-awareness directly impacts the quality of your relationships.
Being in the Present
Self-awareness empowers a person by helping them to be in the present. Because you understand why you think a certain way, feel the way that you do, and respond as you do, you become even more focused in the moment that you are living in, rather than fantasising about something better or dwelling on the past.
People who lack self-awareness often just react to each event that occurs in their life. A self-aware person has the power to respond consciously instead of falling into their unconscious patterns of behaviour. They choose how to respond and as a result they directly and powerfully impact the outcome.
Knowing what truly drives you will help you make everyday decisions that work toward fulfilling your true needs. Now that sounds good! It is easy to get sucked into focusing on goals that are not yours – maybe they come from the family, the workplace or from society in general. I often work with people who say “I have no idea how I got here. This is not what I actually wanted or envisaged for my life”.
It is easy to stray from the path of becoming the person you desire to be when you don’t put any time into working out who that actually is, and then making decisions with those answers in your back pocket.
Developing a deeper self-awareness is the first step toward getting your life back on track because you can start setting personal goals that actually make sense for you.
“You do you”, seems to be a new catchcry of this century.
We are often told “just be yourself” but doing this is impossible if you don’t know who you really are. The power that comes from self-awareness is that you can actually be true to yourself in day to day life. You are no longer confined to pretending to be what your family, friends, or anyone else for that matter, expects you to be.
How refreshing (yet horribly scary for some who are unfamiliar with the concept) is that? You get to show up, own your beliefs and values, have an opinion, and bring all your colour, beauty and spunk to the world and be totally okay with how the world responds to it.
Now that I have got started I’m thinking this list could go on and on, but I think you have the gist. My greatest wish is that we all have deep, aware, and loving relationships with ourselves. Embrace introspection and be courageous enough to learn about you and to love all of you.
I feel that in this time of upheaval and conflict around the world, the more self-awareness there is, the more compassion, empathy, and peace we will have on our beautiful Mother Earth.