Developing Self-Awareness – Why it’s so important

developing self-awareness

‘Developing self-awareness’ is one of those buzz-phrases that gets knocked around too much. So, it’s easy to dismiss as unnecessary.

Because you’re self-aware, aren’t you? I mean, you know if you like pineapple on your pizza. And you know if Nancy annoys you. You know you should really drink more water…does that cover it?

Well, maybe on a REALLY basic level. But you’re worth digging deeper.

Developing self-awareness means paying really good attention to YOU. And the truth is, you probably don’t.

It’s likely that you’re carried through life by habits, routines, reactions, impulses and addictions. And you’re not alone. The majority of us are virtually sleep-walking our days away.

I’m TERRIBLE at remaining focused!

I’ll be honest, I’m really rubbish at staying present. I’m addicted to my phone and to social media. And I struggle to listen properly. Often I don’t notice what I’m eating or what is going on around me (even with my kids!).

I have to work REALLY hard to shake off the daily-blur. But, with a few simple tools, I do manage to wake-up from time to time. And I know you can do the same. That’s why I’ve created this blog post for you.

I’ll start with the benefits of paying attention to yourself, (so you can see why it’s worth reading on) – and then we’ll dig into the layers of self-awareness: Waking Up and Discovery.

Plus, I’ll share 7 of my favourite tools for developing self-awareness.

Then we’ll finish up with 2 great take away points to prevent you from getting stuck along the way!

What’s The Point?

Be honest, how far do you think you’re going to make it through this blog without being distracted by some kind of notification? Truly, it’s a miracle that I ever manage to publish a blog considering how easily distracted I am.

And that’s the whole point. Here are some more of the benefits that you can enjoy through developing self-awareness:

  • Increased confidence
  • Insight into your core aspirations
  • Closer relationships
  • Improved wellbeing
  • More happiness
  • Less indecision
  • Reduced dependency on external validation
  • Improved concentration
  • Reduced stress
  • Higher levels of satisfaction with life

How does that sound?

Self-awareness allows you to live authentically, relaxed in the knowledge that you can move forwards, correcting your course as needed, towards the life you wish for. Ready to find out how?

developing self-awareness

PART 1: Waking Up

We’ve established that the first step in developing self-awareness is to wake up – there are 2 parts to this.

The first is to snatch back your attention from the greasy clutches of your phone. And the second is to realise that our mind is controlled by a chasm of subconscious ideas. 

Our Phones!

What can we do about our phones/social media/etc – all vying to own a chunk of our already faltering attention? We’re so addicted to them that we accidentally fall to our deaths taking selfies for Instagram, and crash our cars (with our kids in them) while checking Facebook notifications.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to take back control.

developing self-awareness

1. Offtime

Funnily enough, there’s an app to help you control your smartphone usage…it’s called Offtime. You can set different modes for work/family etc when certain apps will be blocked. Plus it provides analytics of how much time you have spent on your phone – and where your time has been sucked up. Eye-opening to say the least.

2. No Notifications

Simply turn off your notifications – all of them. You know that you check them often enough without needing to be pinged.

3. Facebook Newsfeed

For your PC/Mac, download Facebook News Feed Eradicator. It clears your whole facebook timeline and just lets you use it for business. You can access your notifications, messages and birthdays – but you won’t get distracted by Aunty Joyce’s kittens.

4. Flight Mode

Make use of the flight-mode on your phone for periods of focus. Remember, there’s no law that says you must be available 24 hours a day. 😉

Your Subconscious Mind

“Our conscious mind thinks it’s in control, but it isn’t. Our subconscious mind doesn’t think about anything, but is in control.” ~ Jen Sincero.

Argh, it’s infuriating but true. We’re controlled by the deep, subconscious ocean of our minds.

What is that? Well, I only studied an A Level in psychology, so I’m hardly qualified to answer this, except to say it’s a tonne of information floating around in your ‘head’.

It was mostly put there by whoever raised you – their well-meaning attempts to educate, protect and love you may have been less than helpful, but for most of us, there’s not much point blaming them. After all, they were controlled by their own subconscious minds and were doing their best.

Plus ‘society’ added a hefty dose of stuff to your subconscious too. Again, not much use in getting caught up in blaming them either – at least for now, we’re focusing on you. Later, you can go out and reshape society, okay?

developing self-awareness

So, we’re left with a confusing mixture of information, most of which was sucked into our subconscious before we had the mental capacity to decide if we agreed or not.

Knowing this truth, you have 2 choices.

  1. Ignore it and carry on, wondering why you keep getting lost.
  2. Figure out what’s going on behind the scenes of ‘you’ – eg develop your self-awareness.

In my opinion, it’s ESSENTIAL to dive in and understand what’s going on in there, so you can wake up and take back control of your life.

PART 2: Discovery

When you’re not distracted 24 hours a day, something weird will happen. You won’t feel so numb and confused anymore. And you’ll start to feel things again. It won’t all be comfortable – but this is where growth happens, so stick with it.

You’ll start to notice how you feel, what you’re thinking, your physical sensations, your knee-jerk reactions, your ingrained habits and your behaviours. And things you’ve been subconsciously ignoring will start to surface.

This is a great thing. Because you can explore them! But let’s get one thing straight – this is a learning expedition, not a judgemental one. So, you’re not looking for the broken bits to fix, nor for anyone to blame (that includes yourself). 

Instead, you’ll be seeing the truth behind the stories you tell yourself about ‘who you are’. You’ll be observing, gaining understanding and increasing your AWARENESS of what makes you tick – and being really honest with yourself about it.

developing self-awareness

“Remember, all the answers you need are inside of you; you only have to become quiet enough to hear them.” ~ Debbie Ford

What you’re trying to uncover is:

  • What you want in life
  • Who makes you feel good – and who doesn’t
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • What feels good – and what doesn’t
  • How you could improve as a person
  • Your important beliefs and values
  • The impact you have on others
  • What matters to you – and what doesn’t

And here are 7 tools to help you to do just that…

Tools for Developing Self-Awareness

There are a few tools that you can use to develop your self-awareness – and none of them requires training or anything fancy. You can start right away. Here are my favourites – try them, test them, drop any worries that you look like a dork (you might look like a dork, who cares) and discard any that feel rubbish to you (only once you’ve tried them though!).

1. Meditation

Guided or not, 2 minutes or 1 week of silence, chanting, on a fancy cushion, in a cloud of incense – it honestly doesn’t matter. Just don’t be scared off by the word. The goal of meditation isn’t to silence all thoughts in your mind, but rather to create space around them – to observe as they pass by. Simply get quiet, create space to listen to your intuition. Your intuition is flipping amazing, even if you’ve ignored her for 10 years+. Listen, and learn to trust.

developing self-awareness

2. Journalling

Buy a fancy book or scribble on a scrap of paper. Use prompts or just let your thoughts flow. Doodle, eke out a single word or unleash a dissertation. The only rule of journalling for self-awareness is no editing or judgement. Sometimes your thoughts can come out of a pen more easily than your mouth, so it’s worth a try.

developing self-awareness

3. Card reading/Vision Boarding

Now we’re getting woo-woo. Don’t switch off if this feels too weird for you. But if you’re open enough to try it you might be surprised. I’ve never had a professional card reading, but some of my most powerfully transformational moments have come via a pack of guidance cards – with me reflecting my inner beliefs on the cards I have picked. And vision boarding is all about daring to admit your dreams – it’s the first step to achieving them.

developing self-awareness

4. Creative time

Make stuff, get your hands dirty, arrange flowers, bake a cake, paint a picture – no judgements (see a theme here? We’re shutting up your conscious mind for a minute). Just let your mind wander.

developing self-awareness

5. Time in Nature

Long walks, swimming in the ocean, gazing into a fire, gardening. Get outside, with air on your skin. Don’t force anything. Just make space and allow yourself to ponder. Smell the flowers, get your hair wet, get dirty, have fun. Follow the emotions that feel good.

developing self-awareness

6. Listen

Make the effort to really listen to people that you care about. Drop your defensive guard and observe how you react around others and how people respond to you.

developing self-awareness

7. Quiet Moments

Showers, baths, the crack of dawn while you’re in bed (before you touch your phone). Just let these places be sacred. Tears are optional – but cleansing when they do come. I have many of my best insights at these points of my day. Never force anything though – as that is a sure-fire way to stop the flow.

developing self-awareness

Plus any others that you think of – there’s no wrong answer!

And there’s no ideal prescription on the amount of time you spend – just use your favourite tools often.

Take aways

Move Forwards

A couple of words of warning about developing self-awareness. You’re going to realise that you’re pretty flawed and rather stuck in your ways. And you might be tempted to spend the remainder of your life gazing inward, trying to work out ‘why’.

So let me save you that hassle because I don’t even think the Dalai Lama knows ‘why’. Instead, try to be satisfied with ‘what’. Figure out WHAT you want to do with your life, WHAT makes you happy, WHAT feels good etc.

Don’t allow yourself to get sucked up in guilt and shame, work through those emotions and let them go. Forgive yourself for not seeing all of this stuff before.

The goal of self-awareness is to learn about and accept who you are, without judgement.

There will be times when growth is painful, but try to have fun as you learn about who you are. Make the discovery tools a part of your everyday rituals and don’t take it all too seriously!

Lifetimes’ Work

There is no one simple truth of self-awareness. But here’s my attempt at defining it: 

Self-awareness is objectively observing how you think and behave – and with that information, constantly and consciously correcting your course towards the direction that feels best.

It doesn’t develop in a rational, linear way. This is a lifetime’s work, but you will benefit immediately from getting out of the haze of your busy-hectic-life, even for a second.

You’re going to wake up – and stop sleepwalking through life. And you’re going to realise that you don’t have to settle for a life that isn’t serving you. You’re going to get really clear about what makes you happy – and how you can go about creating it. It’s worth the effort.

Go Deeper

If you enjoyed the podcast and video, please like, subscribe and share to help me spread my message with more people.

And if you’d like extra support in healing your body image for life, check out my self-paced online course, Food & Body Freedom.

Plus, as a gift, you can download my free ebook, “Unstoppable Confidence“.

And you can learn “How To Set Boundaries” here.

I’m always here to offer support,  so please feel free to drop me a DM at anytime, I’m happy to chat.

You can find me @itslisawelsh.