Lack of self-awareness & how to fix itNov 20, 2022
Unfortunately a lot of us believe we are very self-aware but not many of us actually are! Most of us are living our lives totally unaware of what is truly going on. A lack of self-awareness is the first place we trip up when it comes to making meaningful changes in your life. In order to create any type of change in our lives, we have to first start to understand why we are behaving the way we are, what our patterns are & what exactly is driving our thoughts, emotions & actions. When we have a lack of self-awareness we don’t realise that our subconscious mind is actually running the show - we aren’t even conscious of the fact that 97% of what we say, do, feel is completely subconscious!
To summarise: most of us are living our lives on autopilot and very few of us actually take the time to do the work to become aware of our habits, to understand what is truly limiting us, why we attempt to control everything & why we react in certain ways. When we become more self-aware, we start to take hold of the steering wheel and we becomes the conscious creators of our own lives.
What is self-awareness?
“Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection.” Positive Psychology
Self-awareness is the ability to accurately observe & identify our impulses & reactions and objectively analyse whether they are rooted in truth or pain. Self-awareness can benefit our lives in many different ways. From being able to recognise your unhealthy behaviours such as hitting the bottle every time you have a difficult day at work, to recognising why you snap at your partner every time they ask you to empty the bins, to recognising why you keep saying you are too busy to do something important when you know if you really wanted to, you would make time for it.
Self-awareness is the first step in expanding your self-worth. When we become more self-aware we start to understand who we are, what’s important to us, what our values are, what boundaries are lacking in our lives, where we are relating in unhealthy ways, where we are limiting ourselves in our careers, where we are making excuses, where we are playing it safe, where we are stopping ourselves from stepping outside our comfort zones, where we are letting the negative inner critic run the show… the list goes on and on!
Self-awareness theory states that you are not your thoughts. You are the the observer of your thoughts. This means that you are separate from your thoughts. When we become self-aware we start to evaluate our thoughts, behaviours and feelings and we can decide whether they are actually in alignment with our true values, standards & desires. Once we do this, we can have a look at whether the way we are currently leading our lives is the way to achieve our goals and life we truly want for ourselves. Self-awareness is huge! A lack of self-awareness literally limits every single area of our lives.
Self-awareness ultimately is a huge stepping stone on your mental health journey & personal development.
How to become more self-aware:
Realise how distracted you are most of the time.
We are incredibly distracted 99% of the time and we don’t even realise it. On average, office workers can only focus for 3 minutes at a time. Only 3 minutes! We live in a world with constant distractions including social media which is set up to get us completely and utterly hooked.
Start actively listening. Actively listening to other people means:
- Turning your phone on silent and shutting your laptop
- Using your body language - direct eye contact, leaning in, nodding your head
- Stop trying to come up with what you are going to say next - it means you aren’t listening properly
Meditate or get a therapist / coach to help you work out who you actually are
Most people don’t know who they actually are. You may know what food you like or what you like to do at the weekend but do you know what is driving your everyday decisions? Your reactions? Do you know why you get triggered in certain situations? Do you know what your coping mechanisms are? Do you know what your patterns are when it comes to conflict? Do you know your emotional needs and core values? Do you know what drives you and what you are trying to prove to the world?
The likelihood is, if you haven’t done the personal growth work to figure out the above, you are navigating life in a way that is anything but self-aware. You are moving through life without being fully conscious or present to the abundance of who you actually are and how much you can expand.
Ever heard the story of the daughter and the ham? One celebration day a daughter asks her mother, “mum why do you always cut the end of the ham before it goes into the oven?” The mum replies: “I don’t know why, I just did it the way your grandmother used to do it.” So the daughter asks the same question to her grandma and the grandma replies “I don’t know sweetie, it was just the way your great grandmother did it.” So the daughter goes to her great-grandmother and asks the same question. She replies, “when I was younger we had a really small oven so I had to cut the end off.”
How many things do you do in your life because you are on autopilot, simply copying the behaviours of your caregivers and peers?
Realise that thoughts & emotions are not facts.
Thoughts are not facts. Emotions are not facts. You are not your thoughts or your emotions. You don’t need to react to every single thought or emotion. Again, when you do the work to understand this, you can learn to take a pause before you fly off the handle, become conscious to what’s really going on (and understand the way the brain & nervous system are kicking in) and learn to react in a way that’s true to you and your highest self.
Take responsibility for everything.
Blaming others is a huge sign that your level of self-awareness is low. Blaming yourself also means your level of self-awareness is low. Taking responsibility it not about blame. It’s about realising that you are the creator of your life and that you get to sit in the driving seat. (Click here for my blog on victimhood mode and blame.) We want to start to take responsibility for how we think, feel & behave. (No one makes you feel anything. Read that again.)
When we go through something in our lives we create meaning from it in order to make sense of what happened, and in order to create a sense of certainty. Our brains like certainty. Blaming others and ourselves brings us a level of certainty. Blaming others and ourselves is also incredibly disempowering.
However when you become more self-aware and realise that you can instead create meaning that is empowering, you start to change your perspective to see that every thing that happens in your life is a pivotal moment. A moment where you get to take responsibility and use your pain as a chance to blossom into the best version of yourself.
For example, you can keep complaining that your boss keeps giving you more work or you can choose to set a boundary. It really is that simple. If your boss doesn’t like your boundary, and all this extra work is making you feel miserable, you can choose to stay in that job or you can choose to leave. Your ego is going to fight for your limitations telling you that you are worried about finances, that maybe it’s better just to get on with it, that you are lucky to have a job… but your self-awareness is going to fight for your expansion. Your self-awareness knows you deserve more. Your self-awareness knows you will find a solution. Your self-awareness knows that you will not only find another job, but that this is perhaps the greatest opportunity you have ever been given to find something you really love and to work with people who respect your boundaries.
Get curious as to why you react certain ways
What is it that causes you to snap? Why do you get so stressed out about minor things like the bins not being taken out? What causes you to continually say you never have any time? That you don’t have enough money? Why do you suddenly burst into tears? Do you recognise the excuses you are telling yourself that causes you to limit yourself daily?
When we increase our awareness we increase our emotional intelligence. Awareness allows us to understand our emotions and what they are trying to tell us. We start to learn which emotions are here to guide us to act and which emotions need to be felt and processed. We learn the signs that tell us which emotions are simply based in fear, our survival mechanism & our limiting beliefs. We in turn learn how to navigate this so that we can grow rather than get sucked into overwhelm, exhaustion & further limiting beliefs.
Realise you are wrong a lot of the time.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Or is it? When we look back at previous relationships that we were deeply unhappy in we often look back with rose tinted glasses or total amnesia. Our memories generally of circumstances are filled with bias and are often incredibly unreliable. We often look at things based on our beliefs that we have held for a long period of time, making us terrible at seeing the woods from the trees because to be wrong threatens our very sense of identity.
So what can we do? Instead of wanting to be right, get curious as to why someone else thinks the way they do. Get curious as to why you believe so adamantly the way you do. Take yourself less seriously and bring a sense of lightness to things. Being wrong doesn’t mean you are weak. Being able to be wrong is a gift. It means you are open to learning and that you are willing to see different perspectives. Finally, learn to admit mistakes and apologise. Apologising is not about being right or wrong but recognising the part you had to play in upsetting someone. Apologising in the right way is a skill to be developed with self-awareness. Click here to listen to an amazing podcast on this.
The journey of self-awareness is hard work as you start to realise how limited your mind has been in the past, it can feel scary and confronting. So we have to bring kindness and compassion towards ourselves. We only ever did what we did at the time with the tools we had at the time. You didn’t know what you know now. Now is the time to change, not the time to regret.
People think that life is about being successful. But how many people actually take the time to figure out what success means to them? People rarely take the time to ask themselves the pivotal questions such as:
- What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
- What does success actually look like and feel like to me?
- In years to come, at a celebration of my life, what would I want to be said about me? What would I want to be remembered for?
Start to ask these questions and see what you start to uncover about yourself. Need more help? Fill in our self-worth quiz by clicking below and receive heaps of tips directly to your inbox.