The Life-Changing Magic of Self-Awareness & How to Cultivate It

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Have you ever met a person who couldn’t read a room, situation, or themselves if their life depended on it?

I’m sure you have.

Think of a time when someone tried to have a conversation with you while you were clearly not in the mood, or a time when someone was talking in a room full of people and almost everyone was dying for that person to shut the hell up, but that person had NO idea.

Shoot…if we’re being honest, we’ve all probably been that person who didn’t read the room or ourselves properly at one point or another. It’s perfectly normal… and let’s face it, we all get caught up every once in a while and miss social cues or over/underestimate our role, etc.

All of that, brings me to the main topic of discussion:

Self-Awareness & How to Cultivate It

We’re hearing about it more and more, but because we tend to lack it at such an alarming rate, I’m inclined to believe we’re not fully grasping its importance. So, here I am… ready to bridge the gap between common knowledge and common practice.

So, first things first: What is Self-Awareness?

Well, most definitions you’ll come across on Google University will describe it as a conscious knowledge of one’s emotions, desires, motives, and character. While this is  correct, it leaves SO much to be desired. When I think of self-awareness, I think of a 360 degree overview of how you take up space in the world.

It’s like when people used to tell me I was “too much,” “too loud,” “not ladylike,” and I would just brush it off with a…. “So what!” (Shrugs shoulders). That was an example of me being aware that there was some truth to their statements, yet very clear about how many f%#ks I gave-ZERO. #SorryNotSorry

Self-awareness includes, but is not limited to, an analysis of: strengths, weaknesses, values, talents, beliefs, motives, likes, dislikes, triggers (positive or negative), personality, passions, purpose, and other people’s perceptions. All of these factors come together to make up the whole of who you are.

Here’s the thing:

How many of us actually take the time to analyze all of these things about ourselves?

Sure, we know a thing or two after being in these bodies for so long, but have we really asked the hard questions regarding our weaknesses, triggers, motives, and purpose? I don’t think so; and the data says “no,” too. In fact, research shows that the majority of us sincerely believe we are self-aware, but only 10-15% of us actually are.

Sad case. So, how do we fix this discrepancy and ensure we are part of that small percentage of people who actually ARE self-aware? Simple. We get up close and personal with ourselves. We ask the hard questions, get down to the nitty gritty, and detach ourselves from the emotional aspect of what we discover. Does that make sense? We have to analyze ourselves, OBJECTIVELY. Sis, I’m not even sure if this is entirely possible, but try we must!

Here Are 10 Yes/No Questions to Determine if You Are Self-Aware:

  1. Can I adequately and comprehensively list my strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Can I adequately and comprehensively describe what my positive and negative triggers are?
  3. Have I ever done research on my zodiac and personality type?
  4. Can I list the activities, experiences, and material possessions that bring me the most joy?
  5.  Can I list the activities, experiences, and material possessions that bring me the least amount of joy?
  6.  Do I know how others perceive me? Have I ever asked?
  7.  Can I articulate at least 3 non-negotiable core values that mean the world to me?
  8.  Do I know my purpose– how I’m supposed to show up for others?
  9.  Can I describe how I act when I’m angry, sad, depressed, happy, excited, anxious, and scared?
  10. Can I adequately describe how I interact with people one-on-one, in small groups, or in large groups?

If you’ve answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, well go ahead with your bad self! You’ve clearly done some self-work. But, if  we’re being honest, answering yes or no is not good enough. We need deets, sis. DETAILS. Your high school days are over. It’s time for some open-ended questions and answers.

Welcome to Miss Unconventional University!

But what if we don’t know the answers?

Some people really don’t know the answers to the aforementioned questions and that’s okay! Cultivating self-awareness is a never-ending journey, and the fact that you were brave enough and honest enough to say “I don’t know” puts you in a wonderful position to figure it out. Like my girl Marie Forleo says,

Everything is figure-outable.

So How Do We Begin to Cultivate Self-Awareness?

According to Tasha Eurich, author of “Insight,” the healthiest and most beneficial way to cultivate self-awareness is to ask “What” [and “Which”] questions as opposed to “Why” questions. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that whenever you’re tempted to ask “why me?” DON’T. Apparently, it does not get you closer to getting to know yourself better. Instead, ask “What can I do to…? What triggered this response? Which emotion does this action provoke in me? What drives me?”

Get the picture?

It’s all about getting to the root of the “what,” not the “why,” because the “why” is likely rooted in many factors your conscious mind has no clue about. Who wants to dive down endless rabbit holes guessing and making shit up? Not me!

So, in addition to this, here are 9 more ways you can cultivate self-awareness:

  1. Take personality tests like Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, DISC, and CVI.
  2. Ask family members, partners, colleagues, and friends to be honest about how you show up for them and be open to what they have to say.
  3. Take the time to personally assess your strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Journal daily about your feelings and emotions surrounding major (or minor) events in your life.
  5. Travel! Travel! Travel! I know this may seem a little out of place, but trust me, traveling to a place very different from your own culture will make you aware of certain parts of you that you never knew existed.
  6. Start to read more about your zodiac sign.
  7. Begin monitoring your emotions closely to determine what your positive and negative triggers are. I’ll give you an example. For me, anytime I realize my time is about to be wasted, I get extremely annoyed. On the other hand, anytime I’m about to eat some delicious pasta, I can’t contain my excitement.
  8. Assess your material possessions and determine which ones bring you joy and which ones don’t.
  9. Periodically indulge in moments of solitude. No electronics, no companions, not even music or books, just take time to be alone with your thoughts. You’ll be surprised what those moments may reveal about you.

Listen y’all,

I know self-awareness is not the sexiest topic ever, but please don’t skimp on cultivating it. There are levels to this, and you need to have a “come to Jesus meeting” with yourself every once in a while. Why? Because, part of becoming the best version of yourself lies in knowing where you are, how far you’ve come, and how much further you have to go.

It’s time to take the emotion out of it and face who we are from a holistic perspective. I know it’s not easy to ask and accept feedback from colleagues, family members, and friends. It can’t be comfortable reading some of the negative aspects of your personality according to your zodiac or these personality tests, but as uncomfortable as it may be, it’s a part of leveling up.

Ignorance is NOT bliss here. What you don’t know can actually hurt you, your relationships, and your progression at work or in business. Perfection is not the end goal. Clarity and progression are. So, let’s be and do better by getting all the facts and opinions laid out on the table. You don’t have to accept everything at face value either. You just have to be OPEN.

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