Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachments to it being right or wrong, good or bad.
If there is a piece of emotional intelligence that stands out the most, it’s self-awareness. Its also the foundation that relationship management, self-management, and social awareness are built on. It’s hard to have much growth in the other three without this piece.
Before diving too deep into this subject, some mistakenly think that having self-awareness is about this long journey of traveling down the deepest darkest and most suppressed corners of your emotions and trauma. Rest assured that is not the case. Self-awareness is about understanding what triggers you have that strike an emotional response and why you have those triggers. It’s also about what motivates (and demotivates) you, what you do well, what you need to work on and how a particular person can set you off.
Example of low Self-Awareness
“John’s stress and sense of being overwhelmed are projected on the ones that he is around. He cares for people but seems like he is in his own little world. He doesn’t understand why he doesn’t fit in and things can become awkward for the other person. If things are going well, so is John. John needs to recognize his triggers so he can respond better.”
Example of high Self-Awareness
“John understands his place on the job and his contribution to a meeting and conversations. He is a long-term planner that doesn’t sacrifice the here and now for his desired future. He understands his emotional triggers and has things in place to handle those when they happen. John does a great job of staying calm in those crazy moments we all have.”
Tips to increase your Self-Awareness
- Quit treating your emotions as good or bad. People with poor self-awareness tend to get hung up here and linger or fret about the emotion being good or bad. An emotion is neither good or bad, how you handle yourself in the situation is what counts. You can be a sore winner and damage relationships, just as you can be kind in your grief.
- Don’t let your mood fool you. A bad mood can influence your perception around you. Try not to give it more fuel by constantly giving it mental space. Acknowledge that it’s there and let it pass. On the other end, great moods can lower our guards and cause us to make decisions we later regret. This sometimes catches people when they make significant buying decisions during a good mood and then regret it later. There is a reason why there is a saying, “The two best days of a boat owners life are the day that they buy the boat and the day that they sell it.”
- Know and understand your triggers. Do some self-reflection to understand what annoys you or sets you off. Go slightly deeper and look to the whys. Understanding these two pieces with help give yourself a warning as those moments take shape so you can react better.
- Watch yourself. Once you know those triggers (Specifically and generally) Watch yourself as those begin to manifest themselves. It will help you mentally and emotionally get out in front of it when it actually happens. I do this as I prepare for challenging meetings and conversations. It has helped me tremendously over the years as I have used this tip to strengthen my self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the most important section of emotional intelligence. Strengthen this area so that you can grow how you manage yourself, your relationships and your social settings.
Make a better tomorrow.