“ Self-awareness is taking an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.”
- Debbie Ford
Self-awareness is defined as the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. I think of it as “know thyself”. This seems like such an easy concept, right? WRONG! Of course, you spend the most time with yourself so you should be an expert on you. Arguably, you aren’t an expert on you, and may never be. It is human nature to shield ourselves from unpleasant things; which include unpleasant things about ourselves. How many people want to be aware of their patent unpleasantness or their meanness and/or terrible attitude? Often we look outside of ourselves to explain why people seem to avoid us or even ostracize us. That’s because it is easier to blame everyone else than to take a hard look at ourselves and do the work required to make the necessary changes to become the best version of yourself.
My mother always said if one person had a problem with you, they may have caught you on a bad day or they may even be the problem. Two people, same thing. However, if everyone or the vast majority of people you come in contact with say the same thing or treat you the same way, you are likely the problem. I have taken this lesson to heart. Being transparent, I was often called abrasive and mean. My response to that feedback was to go on the defensive. I would argue that I was not abrasive or mean, rather I was just direct. After hearing the descriptors used one too many times, I began to take an inventory of who I was and how I came across. Essentially, I was becoming self-aware.
Because at the time I didn’t know about the concept of self-awareness, I resorted to my typical way of solving problems, reflection and identifying action steps. Without guidance or direction, I began to ask questions. My investigation into self, included asking questions of everyone to include those who called me abrasive and mean. I made a point to ask family and friends, because arguably their feedback should be easier to take, as theoretically it would be coming from a positive place. Conversely, I spoke with others who I knew did not necessarily have my best interests at heart. I even asked those people who flat out did not like me. By being intentional and asking those distinct groups, I knew that I would get a well-rounded view, which would ultimately provide the information I needed to be aware of my behavior and traits and how I was perceived by others and make meaningful changes.
So what did I ultimately learn? I learned that it wasn’t what I said, it was how I said it. Some of the issues were with the timing of my delivery, my tone of voice, and my inability/refusal to read the room. The first two I could address rather quickly, the third would take more work. I will likely do an entire post on reading the room, but for this post, make sure you take your audience into consideration. In relation to that example I gave, knowing my audience was important because I live in the South, where Southerners tend to “bless your heart” prior to delivering harsh truths. I had to adapt my behavior to accommodate the cultural norms of my audience. Well, I can report that I have been told that I have gotten better and it is apparent that I am less abrasive. To be clear, I am mindful of my delivery, timing, and audience, but I still don’t bless people’s hearts.
Though I didn’t follow specific steps, I did assess my life as a whole and in its distinct parts. Some areas that I suggest you assess in your quest to be self-aware are:
“Self-awareness: The recognition of your responsibility in creating your reality.”
- Caroline Nderitu
Some things to consider during your assessment:
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” - Paulo Coelho
I do not believe that there is a right or wrong way to assess yourself, but I do believe it is imperative that you challenge yourself to look deep. Being self-aware isn’t easy but it is an invaluable experience. As with everything else I believe about becoming your best self, this is not a one-time assessment. You will usually know when it is time to assess yourself again. Typically the “room” will make it apparent that you have work to do. Though this is a scary or uncomfortable undertaking, it will be a major step on your road to living your BAM life.
The final word… self-awareness doesn’t stop you from making mistakes, it just provides an opportunity for you to learn from them.