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Self-awareness: what it is, it’s benefits and 6 suggestions to begin your self-awareness journey

Mindfulness, Mind, Body, Soul Wellness & Healing | Counsellor & Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach in Newcastle Australia

In today’s blog post, I’m going to be speaking to self-awareness, which is something I really believe we should all prioritise and maybe even set up a regular practise of self-awareness work, which I’ll get into a bit later.

Self-awareness is having the ability to recognise and understand our own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. It’s being conscious and aware of our own feelings, beliefs, biases while understanding how those internal processes may affect other parts of our lives like in making decisions, our behaviour, and our relationships.

It also provides a foundation for discovering your personal purpose and meaning in life.

Nobody is ever going to be entirely 110% self-aware and I want to make that clear, we are always going to have new things to discover, learn and understand about ourselves, which I think is the beautiful part of the journey, but when we are prioritising self-awareness and doing self-awareness work, you’re life is going to change dramatically and I think my entire life is evidence of that.

I used to be in such a dark, lonely and sad place with zero self-awareness. I was clueless. I didn’t know anything about myself, my emotions, my beliefs, my life. I had no clue.

But when I really started my self-awareness work, my life improved in every single area. My mental health improved, my relationships with others and myself improved, my work improved, my finances improved, my physical health improved. Every part of my life got better. I went from living in an incredibly dark place to living in a light-filled place, where I now get to shine the light for others too. Which has been life-changing for me, my family and friends, my clients and my audience.

Self-awareness is really one of the most important parts of our mental health and wellbeing journey and I wanted to share a few reasons why I believe it’s so important, I have obviously shared how it has impacted my life but there are a few main benefits that I wanted to mention again.

First and foremost, it leads to better mental health, which is what I’m all about of course. Self-awareness can help us to notice, manage and possibly even eliminate any negative or perceived negative thoughts and emotions we’re experiencing.

It increases our empathy and compassion. When we can understand our own experiences and emotions, we will naturally be more compassionate and empathetic to other people because of that understanding we hold

It improves our relationships. Self-awareness is going to help us to communicate more effectively with our friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones and that’s because if we’re not aware of our own emotions, strengths, biases, beliefs and everything else, we’re going to find it more difficult to connect with other people and communicate our needs and desires.

And the the last benefit is it’s impact on personal growth and development. When we’re actively self-aware and doing self-awareness work, we’re able to find the parts of us that need improvement, with love of course, and work on them to become a better version of ourselves.

The benefits I’ve just mentioned are based on my own personal experience but, I did also want to mention a study and it’s results on self-awareness, because I know we love the evidence side of things here too!

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology had the goal to explore the connection between self-awareness and life satisfaction.  The study came back with three key findings that I wanted to mention… when people do self-awareness work and become more self-aware, they usually have a more positive outlook and greater fulfilment.

The study found a positive correlation between self-awareness and having a more optimistic outlook on life. People who were more in tune with their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors viewed life through a more positive lens. The research also indicated that higher levels of self-awareness were connected with greater fulfillment in both personal and professional parts of life.

There are so many studies and research based on why self-awareness is positive to our mental health and wellbeing, but I thought this particular study worked well at being short and sweet to explain, but there you have it! Personal and research-based evidence that you should be doing self-awareness work.

Mindfulness, Mind, Body, Soul Wellness & Healing | Counsellor & Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach in Newcastle Australia

Before getting into how to practise self-awareness, I thought it was important to mention there are three components of self-awareness… internal, external and relational.

Internal self-awareness refers to the ability to recognize our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This is being able to identify and even label our internal experiences, which could be our beliefs, values, and attitudes.

When we’re high in internal self-awareness we are usually better at regulating our emotions and managing stress, because we’re more attuned to our internal experiences.

External self-awareness refers to the ability to understand how others perceive us and our behaviour. This is being open to feedback and actively seeking out other people’s perspective.

When we’re are high in external self-awareness, we are usually better communicators because we can adapt our behaviour based on others' expectations.

And relational self-awareness is the ability to understand our own role in relationships with others. This is recognizing how our behaviour impacts other people, as well as understanding the other person’s perspectives and needs.

When we’re high in relational self-awareness, we are usually able to navigate social situations better, build stronger relationships, and a lot of the time, we can end up being a better leader.

When we’re able to incorporate all forms of self-awareness, we’re really in the best place possible because we’re going to understand ourselves, others and the world around us.

Now I know I’ve shared a lot of info already and we’re only a little into the episode, but I do think it was super important to clearly explain what self-awareness even is before explaining how the hell we can become self-aware haha. I thought about whether I wanted to give individual tips on each component of self-awareness but I thought that would be a bit much so I’m going to share overall tips and ideas, BUT in saying that, if you’d like me to do an episode diving into each component further, please send me a message on Instagram and let me know!

Before I explain how to do self-awareness work, there are three rules I encourage you to implement first.

The first is to create a safe environment with unlimited time. You don’t want to be rushing through your thoughts and emotions with a five minute gap before picking the kids up or heading to work, you really want to allow you have time to let things rise up, feel and witness them and then work through them

The second is to connect with yourself daily. Self-awareness is something you’ll need to practise for the rest of your life so by having this as a rule or guideline, you know that it’s just part of your every day life. Which I think is amazing that we have the opportunity to continue deepening our relationship to ourselves each day.

And the last is to always practise self-compassion. When we offer ourselves a little compassion, we will have a deeper sense of self-awareness because we’re allowing ourselves to recognize and accept our feelings, even when they are uncomfortable.

Instead of trying to push your emotions away, you can acknowledge them and explore what they are trying to tell you. If you can understand the underlying causes of your emotions, you can learn to take a step back, observe and reflect on your thoughts and feelings, without getting swept away by them. It really reminds you that you're not alone in your struggles and that discomfort is a natural part of the human experience.

Ok now that all of that is out of the way, let’s talk about how the heck we can be more self-aware. I’m going to share the things, practises and tools I personally use and recommend with clients, but there are sooo many out there so take what you like and leave what you don’t from my suggestions!

As a counsellor and wellbeing coach, of course, the first I’m going to share is to work with a counsellor or coach. This may sound bias but I do work with counsellors and coaches continually and have done so for more than 10 years now. Both counselling and coaching provides a safe and supportive environment where you can explore those thoughts and emotions without judgement.

Your counsellor or coach is also going to be able to help support you through whatever comes up and encourage you to reflect on experiences and emotions on a much deeper level than what you could do on your own. I work in this field and yet my counsellor and coach can identify many different blind spots I have and that’s because when you’re the one in it or experiencing it, you’re going to have tunnel vision. Your counsellor and coach don’t have tunnel vision. They’re looking with a birds eye and can push, encourage and support you with the full picture and experience. So I highly recommend working with a counsellor or coach.

The second is to practise mindfulness. When we’re in a mindful state, we are aware of our thoughts, emotions, any sensations in our body and of our environment in the present. By practising mindfulness and being in the present moment, you are going to be aware of your internal experiences, you will be a better observer of yourself and your life and you’re going to be able to stay calm and focused which then leads to more balanced and objective views on your experiences, emotions and all the things. If you’d like some more information on mindfulness, head back to episode 15 where I dive deeper into all thing’s mindfulness!

Mindfulness, Mind, Body, Soul Wellness & Healing | Counsellor & Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach in Newcastle Australia

The third is to journal. Which could kind of come under mindfulness, but I wanted to mention it seperately. Journaling is going to give you time and space to identify, work through and accept or process any thoughts or feelings you’re having. It’s really just giving you a place to actually name and talk about your emotions, experiences or even triggers in your everyday life.

The fourth suggestion is to meditate. Which again, could come hand-in-hand with mindfulness, but I wanted to mention it separately too because it is so incredibly important for so many reasons, but when talking about self-awareness, meditation specifically can help to calm your mind, provide clarity and again, offers a safe space to assess your emotions, experiences or thoughts.

The fifth, and final suggestion is to pay attention to your body. Our bodies can tell us so, so, so much and can reveal a lot about our emotional and mental state, remember that our emotions manifest physically within our body. For example, if you’re feeling anxious, you may feel your heart racing, notice your palms getting sweaty and your muscles might even tense up. And on the flip side, if you’re excited, you may notice a lightness in your body.

If you can pay attention to your physical sensations, you can notice what emotions are coming up and what may be triggering them and you can then use tools or techniques to address it. For example, if you’re noticing your heart racing and your palms getting sweaty, you can then associate those physical symptoms with being anxious, and then you can use tools such as deep breathing or butterfly tapping to alleviate that anxiety.

Our bodies have almost all the answers, we just need to be willing to listen.

As a recap, my five suggestions are to work with a counsellor or coach, practise mindfulness, journal, meditate and pay attention to your body. Finding things that are going to support and encourage your self-awareness journey is incredibly important so again, if these things don’t feel right, then great, find some that do, but these five suggestions are a really beautiful and simple way to start if you’re feeling a little unsure on where to start.

Practicing self-awareness continually is an ongoing process that takes time and patience, but it is one of the most important investments you can make for yourself, and I say that in a professional sense, but also a personal sense. I prioritise practising self-awareness every single day with the suggestions made in this blog post.

With love & support,

Shorina | Mindful Soul Collective

Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach



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