- Know Yourself
- Understand Yourself
- Accept Yourself
- Love Yourself
The first step in creating greater self-awareness is to know yourself. Do you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions? This is absolutely essential, because you can't change what you don't notice.
As you move through your day, listen to your thoughts. Are they mostly positive and productive, or do you have a lot of self-criticism or other mental chatter running through your head? You may even want to carry a small notebook around with you to record your most commonly recurring thoughts.
Our feelings are highly accurate barometers of how well we are taking care of ourselves. Feelings can be triggered by our thoughts, our experiences, and our interactions with others. Notice your moods throughout the day (again, you may want to record this in your notebook), so you can get a clear picture of your emotional ups and downs – and, most importantly, what caused them.
Finally, take a good look at your actions. Do your actions support your goals, or do you find yourself distracted with trivial activities or procrastinating getting the important things done? Consider using your handy notebook to make a list of absolutely everything you do during one 24-hour period (and how much time you spend doing it). You may be amazed at how much time and energy is lost in optional or non-essential activities.Understand Yourself
The second step in creating greater self-awareness is to understand yourself. When you take the time to notice and know your thoughts, feelings and actions, you will begin to see patterns of beliefs and behaviors. Once you recognize these patterns, it is important to explore how they were created and how they may be limiting and restricting you, rather than supporting you.
Review your list of your most common negative thoughts, and see if you can remember when they first began to appear. Perhaps you can remember a specific event in your childhood that created this thought pattern, or perhaps a particular set of thoughts sound just like your mother or father... Understanding the origin of your thought patterns and beliefs can be a powerful first step to realizing that they are not serving you and figuring out what you need to do to break free from their spell.
The only way to understand your feelings is to allow yourself to feel them – without judging, stuffing or denying them. When you feel a strong emotion, remind yourself that it is okay to feel this way. Then ask yourself what is underneath the emotion. Perhaps your feelings are trying to draw your attention to an unmet need or some unresolved pain from the past. Discovering why you feel a particular emotion helps you to understand yourself and ultimately take better care of yourself.
You may want to review your 24-hour activity list, paying extra attention to those activities that could be considered an unproductive use of your time, energy and focus. What excuses, explanations or justifications did you tell yourself to make it “okay” to choose these activities over something else? What kind of motivation, support or resources would have made a difference in helping you make healthier or more productive choices? Understanding how and why you select which actions you take throughout your day will help you to remain more conscious (and conscientious) about your activities.Accept Yourself
The third step in creating greater self-awareness is to accept yourself. As you gain a greater understanding of your thoughts, feelings and actions, it becomes easier to lessen your self-judgments and become more self-compassionate. Accept yourself for who and how you are in the moment, know that you don't have to be perfect, and maintain a steady momentum of personal development to bring you even closer to your ideal you.
It can be challenging to quiet negative mental chatter and focus your thoughts in more healthy directions. Don't beat yourself up when you get into a mental funk – that's just creating more criticism and judgment! Instead, take a deep breath and redirect your attention to more constructive thoughts. Since your brain can only hold one thought at a time, you may want to create a list of affirmations or positive statements to say out loud or silently to yourself to replace any negativity.
Give yourself permission to notice and feel your feelings, and be gentle with yourself when you feel vulnerable. Notice if you need support in expressing and releasing your emotions and find a healthy way to get that support, whether it is with friends and family, your spiritual community, counseling, or another resource.
Choose your actions wisely. Seek a balance between productive activities that will bring you closer to your goals, and recreational activities that will nurture and energize you. Reward yourself when you do something spectacular or achieve a big goal, and forgive yourself if you have a frustrating or unproductive day.Love Yourself
The fourth step in creating greater self-awareness is to love yourself. When you choose to accept yourself, rather than judge yourself, it's easier to notice your good qualities and celebrate your successes. You'll grow to like the person you are, and then one day you'll wake up and realize that you're in love with your life and yourself!
Your thoughts will be loving and supportive, and you will have a much more positive outlook. Your emotions will flow freely, and you will feel comfortable expressing your wants and needs. Your actions will be in alignment with your goals and dreams, and you will feel empowered to live your life to the fullest.
When you know yourself, understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself, you will naturally be more self-confident. Incorporate these four steps into your daily routine, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel about yourself and the world around you!