September is self-awareness month. It’s a MUST! And here is why!!
Turns out September is self-awareness month. I admit that I used to silently roll my eyes when I heard the term “self-awareness”. It sounded flakey, it conjured images of hippies ‘finding’ themselves, and it reeked a little of narcissism.
I didn’t understand the need to be self-aware. Don’t YOU know who YOU are? I mean, who’s going to know you more than you, am I right?
Nope. Not right.
Well, not unless you start to dig deeper, past the facade you’ve built, the stories you’ve invented, and the excuses you’ve made about yourself. To truly understand who you are, you need to look past all that noise and start to observe what’s really going on.
In its simplest form, self-awareness is about being honest with yourself. Like, brutally honest. And when I say brutally honest, I’m not talking about being negative and telling yourself in 27 different ways what a screw up you are.
I’m talking about honest reflection on all aspects of your personality: emotions, thoughts, beliefs, actions, reactions, and decision-making.
Practicing self-awareness helps you to understand why you think the things you think, do the things you do, feel certain feelings, and react certain ways. Once you understand the why that empowers these aspects of your personality, then you can do something to change them or enhance them. Give them light, and most of all be less judgemental of yourself and others.
What I’ve found interesting about becoming more self-aware is how it has exposed some misconceptions I had about myself and helped me shed expectations about who I am. Or at least who I thought I was.
This has been both liberating and humbling. I was able to move past some negative and limiting thoughts that upon authentic self-reflection, just weren’t true. That was liberating!
At the same time, there were some things I never saw about myself, that I had ignored, or covered up with stories and excuses. Behaviours, thoughts, and attitudes that I wasn’t really proud of, or at least they weren’t part of the makeup of ‘the good’ version of me that I had in my mind.
But while it was hard to have those things come to light – to look myself straight in the eye. Acknowledging them meant I could try to do something to change. Or at the very least, recognize them when they emerged and be aware of their presence.
I’m no poster girl for self-awareness month, believe me. It’s something I’m always working at and some days I’m better at it than others. Some days it’s easier to cut through all my personal BS to see ME. Other days, I just pull the self-denial wool over my eyes and keep moving without any idea where I’m going or what I’m doing.
What I will admit to, however imperfect my process, is that I’m happier since I started looking myself in the mirror for a deeply personal reality check.
It has helped me make tough decisions that eventually led to better things, even if at first it was scary. It’s helped me be less hard on myself, and less anxious because I finally understand some of my feelings and reactions. Because I now have a deeper understanding of what makes me happy, sad, angry, and fearful, I can make better decisions to make more or less of those feelings happen.
The other thing I want to say is, don’t be scared. Start small, start soft, but just start observing your thoughts and feelings and see where it takes you. I promise it won’t make you flaky or narcissistic, and that you just might discover that ‘finding yourself’ is pretty cool.
Want to learn more about self-awareness? Here are some activities and exercises to start you off on your own practice.
Photo courtesy: Julia Dávila-Lampe