How to Become More Self-Aware

by Yen Uy


[photo credits] Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels

If there is one trait that I think is necessary for anyone to grow, it would be self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to tune into one’s own feelings, thoughts, or motives and to connect these to one’s own actions. Sounds simple? Well, think again. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “What was I thinking?!?” after doing something embarrassing or inappropriate, that means there’s still much room for improvement in your practice of self-awareness.

Since we are all wired to live our lives according to our own version of efficient, we operate a lot on auto-pilot. That means our actions are largely based on patterns of thinking and feeling that we learned from the past. The most interesting thing is, these patterns operate in the background. We may not even be aware of these, so we end up scratching our heads when we’re confused about our own actions.

When we are self-aware, we are able to interrupt our own patterns. That  gives us the chance to make a conscious choice to be different. Showing up differently is how we grow. So, how do you become more self-aware? Here are some simple steps you can try:

Practice Noticing Yourself

The first step is to notice how you are thinking and/or feeling at a given moment. For example, when you’ve had an argument with someone, notice that feeling and name it: I am annoyed. I am angry. When you’re having a good day, name how you feel: I am grateful, I am joyful. When are you are stuck in your head: What is going on? Are you confused? Are you overthinking? Noticing ourselves in the moment helps us tune in to ourselves in small doses. It’s like opening a window to discovery of who we are. And when we label what we think and/or feel, it neutralizes us in the moment.

Be Curious About What You Notice

The second step is taking what you discover or notice about yourself and taking a further step by being curious about it. When you’re experiencing feelings that you don’t like, don’t judge yourself. When you catch yourself in the process of judging yourself, take a breath. This judgment stops your discovery process by explaining things too early. Instead, ask yourself: What makes me feel this way? What makes me think this way? At this stage, avoid coming up with an explanation. Just turn “on” that curiosity.

Connect The Dots

This third step is where you make sense of it all. Look at everything you gathered during the second step. What pattern are you seeing? What are you discovering about yourself? This step is best done with a mirror; talk to a friend you trust, a therapist, or a coach who can listen to you and help you see things that you are not able to see on your own.

If you want to grow, you must cultivate your self-awareness. Understanding why you do what you do opens you up to learning more about yourself. And when you know yourself, you are led to make more conscious choices.