What is Self-Awareness?

Lots of people talk about self-awareness, but what is it and how do you know you have it? Self-awareness is a conscious process of constant and vigilant self-check and self-appreciation. When it is well practiced, self-awareness has the potential of unleashing personal transformation. This is done through new realizations, the refinement of attitudes and the development of skills. We have to practice self-awareness because this is vital to our own development and that of others. We need to know who we are, to get to be who we want to be. Yet we have to be careful that self-awareness does not turn into self-centeredness.

A personal path to Self-Awareness

I remember the first time my mother asked me “who are you?” , “what do you want to become when you grow up” and “what makes you happy”, I was probably 18 years old. I thought I knew the answer to all these questions. I told her : “I am a strong woman who will be a successful business woman (I planned to take over the family business) and I will travel the world until they refuse me on an airplane.” It took two decades for me to finally revisit these questions again. By then, I had become the person I had envisioned, with multiple career opportunities in various business sectors and was well-traveled.  Yet something was missing. I felt self-aware, but everything that I had done and achieved, was solely for me. What I realized was that I needed a different approach to self-growth. One that wasn’t only internally focused, but also externally. While I had to continue intentionally transforming, exposing myself to new learning, refining my attitude and character, and developing new skills, this had to go hand-in-hand with consciously giving back to others. It’s only natural! Take a fruit tree for example. For the first years of its life, it grows and strengthens, but at one point it begins to bear fruit and nurture others. Humans work the same way, they give to others, the more they developed internally, the more they fulfill their purpose – and this virtuous cycle, reinforces self-awareness and self-worth.

The process of self-awareness happens in an environment of constant change and interconnectedness with all  things around us. As individuals, we also change all the time. We grow, improve and learn. Sometimes this change feels slow and incremental. Other times this personal change happens fast and can have major consequences or impact on those around us. Whether the change is large or small, our interconnectedness implies we always leave an impact. Therefore, self-awareness requires a level of vigilance for the consequences of our actions. We must be careful that our desire to improve ourselves does not unintentionally hurt or misguide others. This is one of the most challenging aspects of self-awareness for me personally.

How do you become more Self-aware?

There is meditation, yoga and exercise. There is mindfulness, personal reflection and journaling. There are countless strategies and tips out there and each claims to provide answers. I do believe that most of these methods help us become more self-aware. However, the process of Self-Awareness is also very personal and unique because all human beings are different. There is no single solution, which is why we at SILKMentoring do not prescribe any particular one. You have to experiment! With art, forms of meditation, exercise, studying, you name it – until you find methods that work for you.

My personal path to Self-awareness includes trying to be really conscious of how I think, what I do about that thought, why I even have that thought and whether carrying it out will benefit me and others. It also includes the practice of restraint in the things I say (not to blurt out everything I think) and the control of my tone of voice. No one wants to be confronted by a tense and stressed out tone of voice. To maintain a calm and loving tone has become my new challenge.

My path also includes creating a 100 year plan. This may sound rather bombastic, but what it simply means is to really think about my actions and activities in terms of long-term consequences. I want to move away from quick fixes and focus on things that have a positive lasting effect which will outlive me.

Another self-awareness tool I have started to use is the “legacy statement”, which is basically a statement about how I want to be remembered. My personal legacy statement includes the words “her perseverance knew no bounds”. By this I want others to understand that I always tried to persevere in the things I cared about no matter the challenges.

Finally, I have adopted the practice of daily self-checks first thing in the morning, whether through prayer, exercise, reading inspirational material and re-reading the legacy statement…and going through a night routine of evaluating the day and seeing what can be improved. This helps my intent of practicing self-awareness to become a habit.