Self Awareness – How it Works for Us, and Against Us

I found the topic of self awareness fascinating as I was reading the book Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength Willpower, by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney.

Self awareness is the recognition of ourselves and how we feel about it. Being more self-aware can help us have more self-control. Having more self-control can help us master our goals, but there are also a few ways self awareness can lead to set backs.

self awareness and self improvement

In the book, they gave an analogy of you might pass by a kitchen table and not think twice. However, when you pass by a mirror you take a moment to reflect on what you see, and tend to compare what they saw with what they thought they should look like.

When passing by a mirror, you typically don’t just recognize yourself, but you tend to point out some of your flaws. Such as my hair looks awful today, or think I wish my teeth were whiter. In most cases with women, we often look for our imperfections and this begins to make us our own worse enemies.

This also leads to body shaming, and the feeling of being disgusted with yourself, which will lead to a lot of negativity. This is why we need to start changing our thought pattern about ourselves and start looking for the features we like about ourselves.

In my previous blog post I wrote about positive affirmations. Also in the past when I did a podcast with plus size model Sarah Taylor on being body positive, which also had a huge emphasis on shifting your thought pattern to perceiving yourself more positively. Sarah talked to us about her own journey with learning how to love herself.

However, self awareness also has a lot of positive impacts as well. Self awareness can also give us a sense of instant gratification. For example, if you look in the mirror, see that your hair is a wreck today then pick up the hair brush and take action, you will instantly see progress and feel better about yourself.

Another one of the interesting things the book pointed out was how something as simple as a reflection of yourself can guide your decision making process. Essentially the book talked about an experiment that was done where they took a group of workers and placed a mirror at their desk, and another group which had no mirror at their desk.

The group of employees who had a mirror at their desk, could see their own reflection and they would produce more results. They also were reported to be more restrained and less aggressive.

The experiment was also conducted on a group of children trick or treating. When a mirror was placed in front of the candy bowl and the children were told to take only one piece of candy, majority followed directions. However, when the bowl of candy was out with just a sign that said take one piece of candy, the children ended up usually taking more.

Do you think that peering into a mirror can make such a big difference? The science experiments are fascinating to me. Maybe it is worth a try, perhaps I should place a small mirror at my desk and analyze if I have been more productive during the work week.

How To Become More Self Aware

“Self Improvement is nearly impossible without Self Awareness.”

Self awareness can be developed by focusing your attention on details about yourself. You need to observe your feelings, and your behaviors. You need to think about how actions you currently take make you feel.

Ask yourself some questions, and think about the answers. Here is some examples that might produce a range of different responses in your emotions. These are just some basics but they give you a moment to tune in and think about how you felt as a result of an action.

How did you feel when you were running late to work?
How did you feel when you skipped brushing your teeth?
How did you feel after eating a candy bar?
How do you feel after investing in yourself?
How do you feel after getting a haircut?
How do you feel when someone leaves you a nasty comment on social media?

I believe, sometimes we get so caught up in the emotions at the moment when something happens we don’t reflect on them to actually learn from them. I think that self awareness and mindfulness go hand in hand.

Another great method to become more self aware is through end of day journaling. It’s a great technique for writing about your daily experiences but also jotting down how you felt about those experiences.

Meditation is another tool to develop self awareness. Personally, I don’t have a ton of experience with meditation, it’s something that I need to work on. However, as a rule of thumb it is a good practice to set aside 15 minutes a day for meditation.

Talk to other people, and find out what they think about you. As I said before, we are our own worse enemy and sometimes don’t think highly of ourselves. Perhaps there are things that we do or bad habits we have that we just don’t realize. Talking to friends and family, can be a real eye-opener to understanding how others perceive you.

Getting in tune with your inner self is important, and can be a huge stress reliever as long as you think positively. Once you become more self aware, other changes will start occurring that will add up to big impacts on your life.

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