Please bear with me as I switch up my original format. Today’s post is meant to assist others in self-evaluation motivated by my personal experience. I am not a professional and the following advice is not a substitute for licensed opinion.
Today’s topic is an important one in the realm of self-improvement. Stepping up to the plate and acknowledging our behaviors takes courage. But bravery alone doesn’t get the job done. It takes work. That work begins with self-awareness. It is an ongoing process with reward. Before we dive into the most important aspect of growth, let’s define what it means.
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motive, and desire.
A simple definition with loads of personal responsibility. Let’s elaborate and break it on down, shall we?
In life we learn there is only one thing we can control and that is our reaction to situations. In order to obtain that control one must be aware of their own feelings. For a semblance of order dispersed across the board, one needs to be aligned with their motives and desires.
True intentions come with a bagful of surprises if we aren’t aware of why our outcomes aren’t what we expected.
Desire is the motivator of intention. It is the driving force masked behind the action. It is important to evaluate this definition because while it’s simply read, it packs a punch. And if you are at the beginning of a self-improvement journey, it’s vital that it begins with the knowledge of your responsibility in the process.
Life is a journey, not a destinationRalf Waldo Emerson
Are You Ready to Start the Work? Good because that’s the first step!
Let’s get out a notebook (or your journal) and start putting things down. The process of actual handwriting and creating lists makes us 40% more likely to remember the content. This is some important work we are embarking on so we’ll take all the backup we can get!! So grab your pen and paper, I’ll wait 😉
Define Your Character
Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. What qualities do you consider unique to yourself? This doesn’t mean that others don’t share certain qualities it just means that these are guidelines that govern you. These are things that you stand by, your definite, your no-go’s. Get specific. These can be characteristics that you are proud of or a list of characteristics you want to work on. I think it is important to list both as that shows true self-awareness (personal opinion).
Keep in mind while reading my examples that these are present-day examples and characteristics I have developed over time with commitment, determination, and stubbornness. My list looked far different in the beginning. The importance is to be brutally honest with yourself and then use kindness to improve.
1. I do not allow others to skew my reality for the benefit of their own. I expect others to hold themselves accountable just as I hold myself. If I make a mistake, I own it without beating myself up.
2. I do not join in on gossiping. If and when the conversation is turned to me, I consciously shift the conversation to the subject matter at hand, the underline problem not a particular person. And if that isn’t possible I point out that we all possess less than desirable traits and that I cannot speak to anyone else’s character defaults as I have my own to worry about.
3. A character default I used to have was overgeneralizing. I still struggle with this one a little but I’m not as attached to it as I once was. I used to be a pretty black/white thinker. It either is or it isn’t but I’ve grown to learn that depending on the circumstances things can be a little grey instead. This one requires that I work on broadening my view. And I do my best. I am still pretty much a yes or no person.
4. If asked, I tell the truth despite popular consensus or the possibility of hurt feelings. If not asked and there is a possibility it goes against the grain, I do my best to keep it to myself or withhold my opinion because that is all it is, my opinion. I work to keep the unsolicited advice to myself.
Those are a few examples of my mental character that I am proud of but continue to work on. A list of my morals would look like this:
1. I am compassionate, always
2. I am fair, always
3. I am not judgemental. As far as I am aware I am not, however, I do judge and to not sway myself with my own opinion, I work hard to shift my perspective to view each circumstance objectively.
4. I am on a continuous path of growth and I show my gratitude by encouraging others to do the same. I share my lessons with honesty and suggestion keeping one aspect in mind; kindness.
5. I mindfully aim to be patient. Previously, I considered myself impatient. I thought that was how I was and that was forever. I learned differently.
Feelings are defined as an emotional state or reaction. Writing these down serves a purpose when you arrive at a crossroads or when processing. We aren’t going to list our feelings today because they are constantly changing in response to stimuli. However, having a list of feeling words written down to reference or as a key for tracking is a suggestion.
The important work in self-awareness and feelings is to align yourself with how you feel. Can you separate feeling from a given situation to make a decision? Are you capable of recognizing when your emotions are responsible for undesirable results? Can you identify when you are overreacting based on past experiences?
Feelings are a tricky subject. They can guide you to do good or land you in a bind. There is a delicate balance you should aim to achieve by allowing your feelings, acknowledging them yet not being controlled by them. Our feelings are valid but they should not be the driving force behind decision-making. Making decisions is a skill set not everyone is equipped with so it goes to note that the two can be a tragedy waiting to happen.
To be self-aware is to be conscious. This consciousness allows room for one to acknowledge yet not become what they are feeling.
Just as with all areas of self-improvement we can elaborate but learning the basics is the goal of this two-part series. Coming to understand our role in our evolution is critical for growth. It is a never-ending task but one well worth the effort.
Stay tuned for part two of the discussion where I expand on motive and desire. Until then create a list of the characteristics that need improving. Also, take the time to acknowledge how situations make you feel and focus on not allowing the feeling to determine your result. The two of these are a great starting point for becoming self-aware. You’ve gotta know where you come from to know where you are going. What better way than having a written record to reference when you reach the top?!?!
I hope you found this discussion informative. Let me know whatcha think in the comments. Are you new to self-improvement? How self-aware are you?