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Are you a Self-Aware Person?

Posted February 21

Question:

My spouse said I am not self-aware, and I’m not even sure what that really means. It’s only one of her complaints, among many, but it came up because she says I can’t see when I’m wrong. Is there a chance that I can’t see things, and can’t see that I can’t see them? What do you do to change that? How do I become more self-aware?

Answer:

This is a great question, because most of us would benefit from improving in this area. Check yourself by going through these signs that you might not be self-aware:

  1. People in your life say you don’t listen, even though you think you do.
  2. You are often critical of others.
  3. You can be pushy about wanting things your way.
  4. You get defensive fast and upset over perceived wrongs.
  5. You can’t handle negative feedback.
  6. You harbor grudges.
  7. You are surprised by what people say about you, because you don’t see yourself the way they do.
  8. You tell yourself and others that you are bigger, better, or farther along than you really are.
  9. You don’t take personal responsibility for your behavior and blame others when things go wrong.
  10. You aren’t teachable or your pride and ego push people away.
There is a new one-page quiz on my website that lets you rank some of these and see on paper how much fear is blocking your self-awareness. Also check out the JoHari Self-Awareness chart which shows you your blind spots. (We also have a Clarity Assessment, which shows you some of your subconscious programs on paper.) Assessments and quizzes like these are great ways to become more self-aware.

Self-awareness is defined as being awake, conscious and aware of your thoughts and behaviors, instead of letting your subconscious programming drive your life on autopilot. It means you can see yourself, other people and life accurately and understand you drive your behavior.

So, the question is, how do you get more self-aware? Here are some things you can do to improve your self-awareness:

  1. Work on changing the way you value people. Choose to embrace the idea that every human being has the same intrinsic value and that value cannot change. You cannot earn more and be better than anyone else. You also can’t lose value and be any less than anyone else. Mistakes are just lessons that help you grow, and they don’t affect your value (at least you can see it this way if you want to). The more you practice consciously choosing yourself and others as infinitely valuable, the less fear and insecurity will drive your life. You will be less needy of validation and less defensive or threatened by criticism or mistreatment.
  2. Stay out of judgment towards others. As you practice No. 1, especially focus on letting everyone around you have the same infinite value as you. Make a rule to not gossip, judge or see others as less than you. Watch for these thoughts and replace them with truth and love. The very act of paying attention to your thoughts and replacing negative ones is self-awareness.
  3. Choose to trust that the universe is for you, not against you. There is no way to know (as an absolute fact) whether the universe is against you or always conspiring to serve you and your education. Since we can’t know for sure, we get to choose a perspective. If you choose to see the universe as against you, everyone and every situation is a threat and you function in fear all the time. If you choose to see life as always serving you, you don’t feel offended, insulted, upset or taken from nearly as much. In this place, you can be more aware of others and the way you show up around them.
  4. Pay attention to any feedback you receive. Feedback is not necessarily criticism and it’s not a reflection of your value. It is just a lesson experience. Some of it will be accurate and this is a gift to help you become your best. Some is not accurate and is an amazing opportunity to practice owning your infinite value and not taking things personally. When you get negative feedback, sit with it, and look for some truth in it, listen to it and embrace it as a gift and a learning experience. How could it make you better?
  5. Learn how to calm your nervous system or meditate. The truth is most people are functioning in a high-stress state most of the time. This fight-or-flight state shuts down your frontal lobe (so you can’t think straight) and makes you generally selfish and focused on yourself. There is a great worksheet on relaxing your way out of stress reaction on our website. This is powerful because the more in control of yourself you become, the more self-aware you will become.
  6. Accept personal responsibility for everything happening in your life. If you have people problems with those around you — you have created those on some level. Watch yourself and don’t complain, blame or use the excuse that you are powerless to change the situation. You can either change the situation or you can change how you are experiencing the situation and, either way, you will feel better than you do now. If you can’t see how you are responsible for a mess you are in, ask an objective third-party for their honest perspective. They can often see things you can’t. Ask them to tell you how you might have created or put up with a negative situation or might be making it worse.
  7. Let go of your need to control everything. If you need control to feel safe, you may not see how this tendency is negatively affecting your relationships. Let go of needing things your way as much as possible. Practice going with the flow and letting someone else drive. Sit back and notice that you are still okay. You can survive not being in control and being okay. The more you can sit back and watch your ego freak over something being done wrong and not say anything — the more self-aware and mature you will become.
  8. Spend more time listening than talking. Make a conscious effort in every conversation to not talk. Instead, watch your ego fight with this as you listen and listen to others. Watch your ego want so bad to tell your story or make your comment while you engage your inner power to over-ride it and stay focused on another person anyway.
  9. Work with a coach or counselor. Find a professional, who can and will give you honest feedback and help you see your subconscious negative behavior and where it comes from. We call this process gaining clarity because it is the chance to see yourself and others accurately, instead of through the fog of fear in which most people live. We have a Get Clarity event in March that will quickly clear away that fog and show you the way out.
One of my favorite books is "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson. In it she says, “It takes courage...to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”

It is easier to stay unaware and keep blaming others for the results you are creating, but it’s not happier. If you want to be happier, more fulfilled and deeply content in your own skin, you must brave that look in the mirror and accept some feedback and some help.

Remember though, it’s not a sign of weakness or inadequacy to ask for help or look in the mirror and change yourself, it’s a sign of wisdom and strength.

You can do this.

Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.

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