(Estimated reading time 3 minutes)
The importance of self-awareness keeps coming up for me in these past weeks – in the recent political debate, in a couple of books I’ve been working on, and in noticing a personal situation.
The recent political debate held in the run-up to the federal election got me really fired up. I usually don’t get worked up about politics. The debate reminded me how detestable I find disrespect, rudeness and criticism-driven leadership. I have no tolerance for it. This points to things I value deeply – respect, cooperation, inspiration, courage. Seeing people criticizing others, being disrespectful or rude feels like a personal affront even if it has nothing to do with me. This highlights how strong my values are in this area. When I find a way to include respect and cooperation in my relationships, I’m happier and more at peace even if things are challenging. When I am connected to inspiration and courage in the way I live, even in difficult times, I feel more alive. Notice what makes you angry, it can point to something you value deeply. Find a way to include what you value in your daily life.
As I listened to a chapter on empathy in the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, self-awareness was highlighted again. I learned that empathy has its roots in an awareness of one’s own emotional response. If we lack self-awareness, it is unlikely that we will be able to put ourselves in a position to understand the emotional response of another. Self-awareness and empathy are a significant part of understanding others. They can help us develop more meaningful connections. Deep connection is another of my personal values.
Being aware of your natural inclinations can help you shape a habit that is more likely to work for you. People can, according to Gretchen Rubin, be categorized into one of four tendencies and knowing which one best describes you will help you create habits that stick. Her description of the four tendencies is below.
Upholders respond readily to both outer and inner expectations. Questioners question all expectations and will meet an expectation only if they feel it is justified. Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations. Rebels resist all expectations inner and outer alike.Better than Before (What I learned about making and breaking habits – to sleep more, quit sugar, procrastinate less, and generally build a happier life) by Gretchen Rubin (page 16)
I’m an upholder – I respond to both outer and inner expectations. When something is particularly challenging, it can help me to have both outer and inner expectations to make it work. About five weeks ago, I made an agreement with my coach to journal every day about food. Not so much about what I ate but about thoughts and feelings surrounding food. My initial purpose was just to create awareness. I chose to text her every day when I was done – my version of external accountability. This worked really well for three weeks. Then I told her I didn’t need to carry on texting as I was in enough of a habit to continue on my own (and I really believed this!) I only journaled once in the remaining week! It seems it’s helpful for me to have both outer and inner accountability if I want to make an arduous habit stick.
Self-awareness is a crucial component to understanding what you value (and honouring your values contributes significantly to feeling like your life is fulfilling). Making deeper connections and creating habits that stick are also more effectively achieved with a foundation of self-awareness. It’s not easy, but becoming self-aware is worth it. Journaling is something I find particularly helpful in creating awareness, but if you’re not into that (here’s a shameless plug for my coaching services), I would love to work with you.
Sue Das, Courage Coach, CPCC,ACC , B Soc Sc (SW)