Self-Awareness: Too Cliche to be Ignored?
Articles that tackle about self-awareness are everywhere, this is not new to us but it seems that people do not give a damn about it. Maybe it is because we choose to ignore it? Or maybe because self-awareness takes time to process? Has it ever crossed your mind that what if everyone is aware of their own behavior and attitude, would they act the way they should be? Or would self-awareness make you a better person? There might be hundreds of questions in your head right now, so let's discuss it one by one.
I am an observant person and I'm silent most of the time especially if the environment is new to me. Personally, I find human behavior fascinating. If you try to distance yourself from the crowd and observe them, you'll know what I am talking about. Some people are aware of the consequences of their own actions yet they still choose to do inappropriate behavior. Some people know that they are wrong but they still defend themselves and insist that they are right. Some just can't handle the truth when they are being confronted. Are we on the same page right now?
This topic has a broad scope but first let us define what is self-awareness. According to Psychology Today, "self-awareness involves monitoring our stress, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs". It has different levels, from being simply aware of the clothes that you are wearing to being conscious of your complicated mind. But I will be talking about the deeper sense of self-awareness. This is what we fail to recognize; to be aware of our deeper thoughts.
Everyone has different predisposition and mindset hence, the level of self-awareness differs from one person to the other. Why does it differ? The answer is nature vs nurture, your biological temperament that you inherited from your parents and how you were influenced by your environment.
Short Overview About Defense Mechanism
Let's have a short background about our brain. Technically, the human brain is designed to be biased, it rejects negative stimulus from the external environment. Negative stimulus includes all the unpleasant feelings such as anxieties, worries and guilt. The human brain would cope up through defense mechanism and trust me when I say, it will always reflect to our behavior. For instance, the boyfriend is cheating to his girl and he feels anxious about it. In order to get rid of the guilt, he will convince himself that cheating is normal for men. When his friends would label him "cheater", he would defend himself through bragging that all men cheat. Is this a common scenario, right? This type of defense mechanism is called denial. There are different types of defense mechanism and I'll put the link in my sources so that you can read more about it. I am just giving you a short overview how human mind works.
What I want to say is that, these defense mechanisms are elicited unconsciously therefore, our behaviors are unintentional. But if a person has a heightened sense of self-awareness, he/she would accept his/her mistakes and he/she would become aware of his/her own actions and once a person is aware, he/she can modify his/her response. Let's take the previous example, if the boyfriend has a heightened self-awareness, he either wouldn't cheat in the first place or he would apologize to his girlfriend and he would accept his mistake by admitting it to his friends.
Importance of Self-Awareness
If you happen to attend team building activities, the first activity would always be about self-awareness. This is to emphasize that our level of self-awareness has a huge impact on how we relate to others. And not just that, it greatly affects how we search for our identities. When I say self-identity, it doesn't refer to our gender roles (like female, male or lesbian) but it refers to who we are and what we are, our goals, plans and desires in life. People nowadays are having hard time attaining their self-identity because they didn't give importance to self-awareness. If you can't find your self-identity, you will be lost. You don't know what you want to be. You can't identify your short term and long term goals. You wouldn't know which career path you would take. Or you don't even know what's the answer to the question, "what is my purpose in life?".
Everyday, all I can see are people busy doing their best to survive, work-save-spend, the same cycle all over again. This is the reason why we choose to neglect the importance of giving time for ourselves, we are too busy with our everyday lives.
Tips on how to be more self-aware
These are simple tips from my own personal experience. The first and most important thing to do is to distance yourself from social media even just an hour before you sleep and start asking questions to yourself. Then look back on the things that happened that day. If you are doing good or bad, did you offend someone or had you helped anyone. It's better that you should keep a journal because you can always read it again. I had five diaries and everytime I read it again, I can look back then compare my past and my present if I have improved.
Next is you should be open-minded, in a way that you can accept criticism from other people. Keep in mind that you are not perfect and you have some flaws. There always be people who will bash or say bad things about you. The trick is, use this to improve you and make a better version of yourself. It is also important to identify which criticism is disrespecting. It would be good for your mental health if you keep your distance from toxic people.
This is not an overnight process, it may take awhile but always remember that no one else can help you other than yourself.