When we’re self-aware, often it’s because we’re allowing negative thoughts to influence the way we perceive ourselves. For example, you’re self-aware when you’re at work and realize that you’ve left your cell phone on the kitchen table. But for most people, what results from that self-awareness is a string of negative self-talk that seems to come out of nowhere, berating you for being forgetful and careless. That’s not the kind of self-awareness that contributes to success, happiness, or a sense of inner peace. However, you can prevent this kind of negative self-talk: not by ceasing to make mistakes, but by increasing your sense of positive self-awareness. Once you accept your humanity and learn to appreciate its qualities in your mind, body, and spirit, you’ll be less likely to experience subconscious attacks on your mood.
Becoming Aware of You
Everyone has positive and negative attributes, but for now, it will be most helpful to focus on the positive. Think back through your personal and professional experiences and try to remember whether or not anyone has ever written you a recommendation letter. Many people have them from at least one point in life when it was necessary to have another person list their positive attributes. If you can find any of these, read through them and get an idea of what people really notice about you. You should be able to pull out several key elements of your personality, work ethic, attitude, abilities, and skill sets that can serve as a starting place to define yourself in a positive way.
If you can’t find any recommendation letters, try birthday cards, personal letters, e-mails, social media pages, and anywhere else you might find a kind and sincere word from a friend or colleague. This is a great way to build up your self-confidence, which will be helpful in cultivating self-observation.
Liking What You See
Once you have enough material to inspire you, start writing down your positive attributes. It doesn’t matter how generic they are because you can always get more specific, so you can start with words like “kind” and “friendly” if you need to. Spend enough time on this to write a full page of your best qualities, then get to know yourself. You might be surprised at how much you didn’t know or didn’t acknowledge about the way you improve the world around you. Work toward reaching a deeper level of consciousness, trying to determine how you really perceive yourself. Try to build that image into a more positive one that reflects your best qualities instead of projecting external frustrations onto your inner self.
In addition to remembering that you have so many good qualities, there are several things you can do to maintain positive self-awareness.
1. List your good and bad habits. Acknowledging the fact that you have positive habitual behaviors can improve the quality of your self-awareness, and when you take the initiative to change any bad habits, this is also empowering. When you can prove to yourself that your impact on the world is positive, your self-awareness will benefit.
2. Take good care of yourself. If actions speak louder than words, the way you treat yourself is the biggest indicator of your self-awareness. Do what’s right for your mind, body, and spirit by eating well, exercising, and engaging in reflection or meditation.
3. Stay out of ruts by trying new things. If you view yourself as a dynamic person, you’re more likely to maintain self-awareness, so learn something new every day, try different foods, engage in a new sport or outdoor activity, or change your surroundings.
4. Find some mentors. It’s easy to identify people with positive self-awareness, so spend time with them and learn from the way they live. Watch for people who are honest, truthful, patient, sensitive, and open-minded. When you’re around people with positive self-awareness, you’ll benefit from their company and be less likely to experience negativity yourself and in others.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.