How well do you know yourself? Are you continuously aware of what’s going on in your mind? What makes you happy? What do you want to achieve? In the rat race of modern society, so many of us are busy running toward goals about which we actually have no idea. We run to follow others, but does that make us happy?
Conversely, self-awareness is a way of knowing yourself and understanding your own beliefs and choices that ultimately leads to self-improvement. Many will tell you that you won’t be able to be happy or achieve success in life unless you are aware of what you want because you, your desires, your opinions and your needs are unique. What’s more, when you know who you are and what you want, it becomes easier to adapt to various situations, make better decisions and take responsibility for your successes and failures. With that in mind, here are 11 exercises that can help you achieve a greater sense of self-awareness.
- Ask yourself, “Why?” three times.
“Why” is an amazing word. It can help solve a lot of puzzles for you. Whenever you are making a decision, ask yourself, “Why?” If you can give yourself a good response, ask, “Why?” to that response. And if you can answer that question again successfully, ask, “Why?” one more time. Three strong replies to this question is a clear indicator that you have a solid reasoning backing the decision you’re trying to make or the challenge you’re choosing to pursue, helping you feel more confident about your action.
- Practice saying “no” to yourself.
It’s hard to say “no,” especially to yourself. But if you wish to become self-aware and reach your goals, then you need to develop this ability. Start practicing it in small ways on a daily basis to strengthen your will. There are numerous occasions when you can say “no” daily temptations, such as buying that extra cup of coffee or mindlessly scrolling on Instagram for an extra 15 minutes. Challenge yourself to say “no” to five different temptations every day that aren’t worth the indulgence. It will slowly strengthen your ability to say “no” and manage your weak points.
- Understand your emotions and expand your emotional vocabulary.
Human beings can experience many feelings at the same time, but we only recognize a few of them. What you feel is more than happiness, sadness or anger, so it’s time to expand your knowledge about what you experience at a particular time. Understanding your emotions and feelings is essential, as these drive your behavioral responses. If you start pairing words with what you feel, your brain will be better able to interpret them, preventing confusion, stress and anxiety.
- Monitor your self-talk.
Your brain is running continuously, and you have constant talks with yourself. Have you ever noticed that non-stop commentary going on in your mind? Often times, the discussions you have with yourself are not beneficial because they’re negative. These negative talks can stress you out and may also lead to depression. So, monitor your thoughts and listen to how you take your success and failures in stride rather than being critical about everything. Celebrate your accomplishments no matter big or small, forgive your shortcomings and be kind to yourself as you learn from your mistakes.
- Be accountable for your flaws.
It’s easy (and often automatic) to continuously judge people around you, reflecting on their faults, but you have to be able to focus that mirror back on yourself, too. It’s time to genuinely reflect your inner self and recognize your own flaws. Rather than just acknowledging your defects, hold yourself accountable for your deficiencies. Making excuses about yourself and your weaknesses won’t help you. If you want to work toward self-improvement, you have to not only be aware of your flaws, but also be accountable for them. The first step to improvement here is acceptance. Unless you accept what, you are, you cannot work toward improving yourself. Learn to admit your mistakes and work on them rather than making excuses.
- Understand your personality.
People have different natures that drive their attitudes toward different things, so it’s essential to know who you are and what drives you. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses to make the most of the opportunities available to you. If you aren’t aware of your skills and talents, you may not be able to channel them toward your goals.
- Improve your body language awareness.
Your body posture says a lot about you to others, but it also influences your inner sense of confidence. Slouching increases the release of cortisol, which causes low self-esteem. But standing tall releases more testosterone, which boosts your confidence and improves your performance. Record yourself in a video to see how you carry yourself. Once you’re aware of your body language, you’ll be better able to work on it.
- Practice self-evaluation and reflection.
Keeping a journal is one of the best habits to build to see visible results. Maintain a journal to track your patterns and progress. Know what moves you made, the erratic thoughts you experienced and how it all made you feel, and then try to work on them. In journaling, you can also set your goals and break them into smaller, more attainable targets. Then, at the end of the day, analyze how it went so you can determine which steps will best help you tomorrow.
- Monitor your reactions.
People often react based on their assumptions, but what you personally believe might not be the “right path” for others. Self-awareness helps you assess situations rationally and, afterward, make decisions without harmful biases. It’s necessary to think before you act. When you’re angry or frustrated, take a deep breath and reflect on the situation rather than jumping to a conclusion.
- Identify what limits you.
People get often trapped in the bubble of their fears. You may have some concerns or negative beliefs to which you strongly cling, but these hold you back and inhibit you from exploring your potential. So, identify the assumptions that are holding you back, know your fears and address them head-on to live to your full potential.
- Question your assumptions.
You tend to defend your thoughts and opinions, but instead of protecting them, try questioning them. Stop advocating yourself and challenge your assumptions. Arguing can be healthier if done the correct way. Your assumptions and views about things might not always be reasonable. To get a better view of things, question your own beliefs and thoughts. The practice is also an excellent workout for your brain, stimulating your neural connections.
As a part of your self-awareness exercises, try including meditation, as it’s a great way to gain control of your mind and body. Practicing breathing exercises helps you become more aware and enables you to focus more on what’s essential rather than excessive.