Watching my 15 year old son interview for admission into two different secondary schools last month provided me with a lesson in self-awareness. He toured and interviewed at the schools because he was looking for a school with an exceptional science department. I did not force him to go or prep him with questions or answers. He was himself and showed up ready to see if either school measured up to his needs and if he could visualize himself walking through the campus. At both schools he appeared unfazed and nonchalant. I did not realize his demeanor was exceptional (I thought he was being a typical teenager) until the admissions representatives at both schools commented on how comfortable he was and how much they enjoyed speaking with him. He effortlessly shared his interests and was able to ask questions that would help him make his decision. They said he was a pleasure to speak with and showed a level of self-awareness and authenticity they rarely see. At first I did not think much about their comments until I went to write this month's blog post. A huge smile came across my face as I thought about my son’s comfort and was reminded of why I place a high priority on building self-awareness and use it as a building block for the curriculum I write and the workshops I lead. When we demonstrate a high level of self-awareness others notice and this is something to write about.
At fifteen my son knows what is important to him and is learning how to seek out these things and make decisions based on what he values. These things will change as he grows and moves through the world, but the process to get to what is important will remain consistent. Building self-awareness enhances our understanding of who we are and empowers us to live a more fulfilling life. Wherever we are in our journey, building self-awareness and allowing it to guide us will provide us with the confidence to show up unfazed and nonchalant even when life gets stressful or hard.
Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It involves introspection, honest reflection, and a willingness to explore the depths of our inner self. Cultivating self-awareness helps us uncover our unique gifts and reveal our personality, motivations, and values.
Benefits of Self-Awareness:
Improved Emotional Intelligence: Self-aware individuals tend to have a higher emotional intelligence, allowing them to navigate relationships more effectively and empathize with others.
Enhanced Decision-Making: Knowing our strengths, weaknesses, and values enables better decision-making. We become more aligned with our authentic self, making choices that resonate with our true desires.
Increased Resilience: Self-awareness fosters resilience by helping us understand our reactions to challenges. It allows us to bounce back from setbacks, learn from experiences, and grow stronger.
Better Communication: When we understand our communication style and how others perceive us, we can communicate more effectively. This leads to improved relationships both personally and professionally.
Personal Growth and Fulfillment: Self-awareness is the foundation for personal growth. Embracing self-discovery leads to a more meaningful and fulfilling life as we align our actions with our core values.
Practical Steps to Build Self-Awareness:
Mindfulness Practices: Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine through activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or mindful walking. These practices help us become more attuned to our thoughts and emotions.
Journaling: Keep a journal to record your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Regularly reviewing your entries can reveal patterns and insights into your behaviors and reactions.
Seek Feedback: Actively seek feedback from friends, family, and colleagues. Others may offer perspectives that we might not have considered, contributing to a more comprehensive self-awareness.
Self-Reflection: Set aside time for regular self-reflection. Ask yourself thought-provoking questions about your values, goals, and aspirations. This introspective process fosters deeper self-awareness.
Embrace Vulnerability: Be open to acknowledging your vulnerabilities and mistakes. Embracing vulnerability is a powerful step toward self-awareness and growth.
Building self-awareness is ongoing and requires commitment and a genuine desire for personal development. Understanding the complexities that uniquely define us is a constant process. Having the awareness to understand: who we are, what we are good at doing, what makes us happy, what’s important to us and what we value will help us uncover our true self. We become more authentic and are empowered to lead a more purposeful and fulfilling life. Watching my son explore new schools reminded me of the importance of self-awareness and how others perceive us based on our level of self- awareness. It is with our increased awareness we get to create a life full of joy and authenticity.