Do you need to be self-aware to know if you are self-aware? While it's not meant to be a trick question, it can be one that allows you to look at whether you live your life with intention and understand who you are, what you stand for and who you strive to be.
Self-awareness is an awakening within — you become alert to your internal and external processes, including your thoughts, feelings, urges and actions. Being aware or mindful is an intentional shift from living life on autopilot.
"Autopilot is our default mode of operation that we as human beings can live and survive in," says Dr. Amber Salvador, clinical psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. "This is where we go through the motions of our day without intentionally engaging in a present and mindful way."
Dr. Salvador says to think of it as a car on cruise control — autopilot can be a reactive state where you react to your environment rather than respond with thoughtfulness and intention for what you say or do.
Shifting out of autopilot
"Self-awareness is a heightened sense of understanding ourselves, such that we become aware of the ways that we are living our life," she says. "We start to discover things that we are thinking, saying and doing that are ultimately helping us to move toward desired life goals. We also become more aware of things that are not serving us."
The more self-aware you are, the more likely you will respond to situations and communicate in relationships in a manner that reflects your true character and values. Self-awareness increases your understanding of who you are, what matters to you, what you believe in and even what you stand for.
Those who actively pursue a self-awareness practice may be more likely to engage in self-care practices and experience more fulfilling and healthier relationships.
Self-awareness is an intentional practice of using mindfulness in the moment to observe and monitor your own thoughts, emotional responses and behaviors. If there is an area of your life that you would like to build awareness, Dr. Salvador recommends that you track that area by either paying more attention in the moment or writing down what you observe.
For example, you may choose to track what you are eating if you would like to increase awareness around the types of foods you are choosing and how it is impacting your health. In relationships, you can begin to pay attention to how you communicate with others and notice how people are responding to you.
When we practice mindfulness or self-awareness, we empower ourselves to be intentional in the words we choose and the actions we take. "We know that how we communicate and behave in relationships, as well as how we take care of ourselves, is a direct representation of who we are and the person that we strive to be," Dr. Salvador says.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Amber Salvador about self-awareness for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.