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Why self-awareness is the key skill for growth, health and happiness

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What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts or emotions do or do not align with your internal standards. If you are highly self-aware, you can interpret your actions, feelings and thoughts objectively. Self-awareness is a rare skill, as many of us spiral into emotion-driven interpretations of our circumstances.

States of self-awareness

There are 2 kinds of self-awareness:
• Public - being aware of how we can appear to others. Because of this consciousness, we are more likely to adhere to social norms and behave in ways that are socially acceptable
• Private - being able to notice and reflect on one's internal state. Those who have private self-awareness are introspective, and they approach their feelings and reactions with curiosity

Why is self-awareness important?

When we look inward, we can clarify our values, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We are able to recognise the effect we have on others. Research found that those with self-awareness are happier, have better relationships and a sense of personal and social control.
When we look outward, we understand how people view us. People who are aware of how people see them are more likely to be empathetic to people with different perspectives.

Benefits of self-awareness

Self-awareness:
• Gives us the power to influence outcomes
• Helps us to become better decision-makers
• Gives us more self-confidence
• Allows us to understand things from multiple perspectives
• Frees us from our assumptions and biases
• Helps us build better relationships
• Gives us a greater ability to regulate our emotions
• Decreases stress
• Makes us happier

How do I know if I'm a self-aware person?

If you want to know how self-aware you are, iNLP center has 12 multiple-choice questions that will tell you the level of your self-awareness and what you can do to improve it.
The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) is a great and free tool as well, to identify your dominant strengths. VIA-IS measures your answers across 6 broad categories with a total of 24 strengths.

How to become a more self-aware person

• Visualise the best version of yourself and use this idealised self to move in the right direction
• Ask the ‘what' questions as opposed to ‘why' questions. This puts us into the objective space of considering all the factors influencing a particular outcome
• Name your feelings - we can make bad decisions when we let our feelings overwhelm us. Naming them allows you to take a third-person perspective to objectively evaluate the situation

How to become a more self-aware person

• Ask others about their perception of you in certain situations - getting specific will help to give you the most concrete feedback
• Keep a journal - this is a great way to pay attention to what's going on in your private and public self
• Practise mindfulness - this practice helps you be aware of what's going on in your mind, body and environment

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