#Askingforafriend: Why should I work to develop self-awareness?
By Caitlin Rudgear
GCU Office of Student Care
When I was in graduate school studying to become a therapist, the No. 1 commandment we were taught that would make us effective counselors was “Know thyself.”
It was important for us, as therapists in training, to be able to see accurately and clearly how our life experiences, past and present, could influence and/or get in the way of being effective counselors.
Collectively, I think the same principle applies to us all. The ability to see yourself objectively offers several benefits and can provide great opportunities for healing. And, ultimately, who doesn’t want to work on being a better, healthier version of themselves?
Self-awareness can help us improve performance and make clearer, more effective decisions. When you understand yourself, your thought patterns and your motivations, you are able to become more successful and make decisions that are the best fit for you. Additionally, research shows that self-awareness is crucial for success in all areas of life, not just career.
So how do we develop self-awareness? There are several different strategies and activities you can utilize:
- Reflect on and gain understanding of your life story. What events, experiences and people (good and bad) affected you the most to shape you into who you are now? What lessons did you learn? How are your perspectives, beliefs or values informed by your experiences?
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be defined as “paying attention, on purpose, nonjudgmentally.” Mindfulness can allow you to notice what is happening with your internal world while practicing nonjudgment of your experience in the here and now. Often, we don’t really know what’s going on inside our bodies, so consistent practice with mindfulness exercises can be beneficial for developing self-awareness.
- Ask for honest feedback from trusted friends, family members or mentors. Hearing feedback from other important people in our lives can help us to understand how others perceive us and how we can continue to grow.
- Make a habit out of setting goals and checking in to see how you did. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What have you learned for the future?
- See a counselor. Therapy acts as a natural space and process for learning self-awareness. Counselors often help their clients to be reflective and learn about themselves in ways they might not otherwise do.
Reference: George, B. (Sept. 28, 2015), “Know Thyself: How to Develop Self-Awareness.” Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-is-your-true-north/201509/know-thyself-how-develop-self-awareness