Growing in self-awareness requires us to expand in our understanding of the numerous determinants that hinder our personal growth and professional advancement.
Self-awareness walks hand in hand with emotional intelligence and our ability to manage or regulate ourselves. Self-awareness is about us learning who we are, who we aren’t, what we stand for, what we believe in, and why we think the things that we do. One of the most challenging things to achieve in life is to understand ourselves.
Understanding ourselves sustains us as we become more attentive in the present moment and less directed by the events of our pasts or the expected affairs in our futures. Many people advance throughout life either fastened in the past or absorbed in the future. Both of these attitudes deem us entirely useless in the here and now.
The most common self-image identifications people make are related to their worldly possessions, the work they do, social/cultural standing and the level of acceptance they have historically received from others.
Other factors such as academic education, physical characteristics, social and intimate relationships, family history, belief systems and other political, sexual, racial, religious collective identifications also come into play. We must understand that none of these social, relational or preferential factors can equate to comprising who we are.
Growing in self-awareness presents us with the capability to learn from our errors in life as well as our achievements. It enables us to keep on growing and developing unhindered as we strive to become decided and secure in who we are.
I must take a few moments to explain what I meant when I said, ‘… as we strive to become decided and secure in who we are’. Undecided people tend to be inconsistent in their ways, and changeable people are tough to trust and find confidence in.
The most damaging area in which we can be undecided in is our identity and the truth about who we are. Many people seek to justify themselves by defining themselves in a way that only boxes them into a set pattern of lifestyle choices or behaviours – i.e. by religion, sexual orientation or set of political ideologies (for example).
When we define ourselves in a way that is fixed and unchangeable, we deem ourselves as fixed and immutable, incapable of growing, developing, increasing and improving. There is no liberation to be found in doing this, and none of us even want to be restricted in this way.
As Socrates wisely said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Growing in self-awareness allows us to examine ourselves thoroughly, unlimitedly and self-correct where or when necessary.
“Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies.”– Stephen Covey
To develop ourselves and become different from who we were yesterday, we must strive to become more aware of who we are today and who we are willing to become tomorrow. Living life in this way keeps things fresh, challenging and in the knowledge that we never again need to relive the experiences of our pasts again in the future.
Every human has four unique abilities; the ability to grow in self-awareness, the ability to become more conscientious, the ability to assume more responsibility for our lives and become truly autonomous, and the ability to exercise our creative imagination in unlimited and unique ways.
It’s in exercising these unique abilities that we find the ultimate human freedom; the freedom to choose, change and become someone different.