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.
"While autopilot can be the default mode for many of us given the busy nature of life, it is important to slow down and take stake in our thoughts, feelings and actions," says Shanette Smith, a marriage and family therapist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.
Smith says that autopilot is essentially the muscle memory of our day-to-day tasks and something that can leave us feeling out of touch and disengaged..
Shifting out of autopilot
"To be self-aware is to have a greater understanding of one's self, thereby living with intention and a greater sense of purpose," Smith says. "We become keener to what is healthy for us as well as those things unhealthy in our lives."
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. What were you thinking, doing and feeling?
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. Self-awareness takes shape in two distinct ways, the internal self and the external self. The internal is how we see ourselves: our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The external is how others see us: obtaining feedback from trusted, yet honest sources that aid in becoming more self-aware.