There’s a lot of different opinions and definitions out there on what being self-aware should look like. The reason it’s so hard to definitively nail down what self-awareness actually means is that the “self” is pretty damn complex. There are a million moving parts that make up the self, but it’s up to you to become more conscious of the impressions those parts leave both on the people around you and on yourself.
Impressions You Give Others
I grew up with the same indoctrinated idea most of us have programmed into our brains by our elders — what others think of you doesn’t matter.
That may have made more sense before the age of the technological revolution. But, now, anyone you interact with that knows the basics about and your life can go on your social media, google you, or find you online in other ways if they put in enough effort. So, maybe we should care a little bit more what other people think of us, and maybe we should take a bit extra care to make sure those impressions other people are getting of us are actually how we want ourselves to be perceived by others.
This is especially important in the workplace, because how your boss and coworkers perceive your behavior can impact your future. You don’t have to change every part of yourself to accommodate the expectations of those around you, but you should work to be more aware of how those around you may react, respond, or perceive your daily behavior and attitude.
So, next time you say something blunt to a coworker or have an awkward interaction with your boss, pay close attention. Study their body language and listen closely to how they respond to you. Try to put an objective version of yourself in their shoes to gauge how you’re being perceived by them. In every interaction, work towards understanding the other party better than when you entered the conversation — you just might learn something about yourself.
Impressions You Give Yourself
While caring about what others think of you may hold more merit than we used to believe, how you think of yourself is just as important in becoming more self-aware.
Our inward impressions are complex, always changing, and usually default to thinking the worst of ourselves. However, there are two extremes when it comes to our self-impressions. We either believe we are way better, smarter, or more self-aware than we really are; or, we think we are worse, dumber, or less aware of ourselves than we are.
It’s good to think highly of yourself. Show yourself gratitude, give yourself moral support, and provide your own validation. But, when someone shows themselves too much appreciation it can lead to inflated egos and narcissism. It’s all about finding your inner balance between lifting yourself up and humbling yourself before others. And the best way to find this sweet spot of equilibrium? — focus on your intentions.
Our intentions are our driving factors. They are why we do the things we do, why we ask the questions we do, and why we say the things we do. So, next time before you make a statement, ask a question, or perform an action — take a second. Think about what your intentions are before you act. What are your goals for the interaction? What are you hoping to get out of this and what might the other party get in return?
The answer to these types of questions will help you in grasping the decision-making process that is your brain, which will lead to a better understanding of yourself and why you do the things you do.
Being self-aware is not just about the impressions you bestow, it is also about inner growth. But, self-awareness is also not just about learning to accept yourself for who are, though that is an important part of it. You must go a step further than this. You must accept yourself for who you are, and then be willing to work towards improving the worst parts of you.
Self-awareness means knowing who you are and accepting it. This means accepting the good with the bad.
The stinky feet with the nice hair. The grouchy morning attitude with the late-night spunk. The stubbornness with dedication. Learn what your flaws are and accept them. Then, learn what your strengths are and embrace them, foster them.
Profile’s personality assessments and talent management system are designed to help you learn more about yourself, what motivates you, and what holds you back. We help you learn tons of useful information about yourself — information that is precious in the process of becoming more self-aware.
But, whether it’s through Profile’s own behavioral technology or through observations you’ve made of your own life, the sentiment remains the same — never stop learning. Because learning more about yourself every day is how you navigate the road to finding out who you really are inside.
However, once you’ve learned who you are and accept both the good and bad parts of you, don’t stop there. Take that last step towards becoming more self-aware by working to improve in areas you might be deficient and magnify the areas that you display strength.
To become self-aware you must be willing to improve yourself. Simply accepting yourself is not enough. Take that list of flaws and work toward lessening them or making them less of an impact on your daily life. Avoid making mistakes that outline those flaws you’re already aware of. Take control of your flaws, don’t let them control you.
But, don’t constantly dwell on the negative parts of yourself. You can also work towards maximizing all the good qualities you possess. Do more things that allow you to exhibit your good qualities. Learn how to utilize your assets in everyday life. Do whatever you can to improve the bad and showcase the positive. Work on yourself every day, don’t give up. Because becoming self-aware is a full-time job.
Chad Q. Brown’s Profile is a retained consulting firm incorporating distinct team building and talent strategies utilizing proprietary technology and behavioral assessment infrastructure. Our mission — help people get better at people.
Chad Q. Brown