Being self aware can save you a lot of time and energy, and now more than ever we all need to conserve these precious commodities.
In a generation that’s hell bent on keeping up with everything – the news, the celebrities, the artists, the movies, the everything – we need to learn how to choose what to keep up with.
Self-awareness is defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings”, and is pretty self-explanatory. However, being self-aware is more of a conscious practice than you might realize, and practicing it can have more benefits that you would expect.
You can protect yourself from emotional drain
The first benefit of being self-aware is knowing what your non-negotiables are in relationships, and protecting yourself from emotional drain.
We all have relationships – friends, colleagues, romantic, clients, you name it. Very often, these relationships go unclassified and unstructured. And as a result, we overspend our emotional capacity on the wrong relationships. We also tend to find ourselves giving too much of the wrong thing in the right relationships.
Let’s use an example. If I work for a large company in a large team, I could get confused about the type of relationship I have with my teammates.
If I forget to structure my relationship with my team members, I can forget that they are my colleagues and instead mistake them for friends. That makes me more likely to feel drained because I feel obligated to go out with them outside of work hours, or because I overshare about my personal life.
That emotional drain could have been avoided if I sat with myself and had been aware of my emotions and character enough to recognize that I don’t want to share my personal life with people at work.
You realize the importance of setting boundaries
Setting boundaries is a very important practice. The absence of boundaries can be a reflection of just how unaware of our feelings we are, and of what causes us to feel that way.
Let’s continue our teammates example. One reason I would feel drained from all the personal conversations I have at work with colleagues is because I don’t realize that I’m crossing one of my own boundaries.
When our boundaries are crossed, even though our hearts, minds, and bodies make it clear, we don’t pay enough attention to notice.
I could start to share less and less with my real friends, because I’ve already been given bad advice that backfired from my ‘friends’ at work. Or I could feel embarrassed to share anything anymore because my work ‘friends’ made me feel stupid for struggling with something like that.
I start to suffer and become emotionally unavailable to all the other people in my life because I fail to realize that I’ve violated my own boundaries. I hurt myself and let others hurt me because I haven’t taken the time to be self-aware and notice what my heart is already screaming at me.
“Shut up at work! They’re not your friends!”
Decision making becomes easier
Do you struggle to make decisions? If you do, it could be because you don’t actually know yourself well enough to weigh the options and choose the best one.
When we take the time to know what’s important to us, or what season we’re in on this journey through life, we’ll know how best to choose so that our future selves aren’t left dealing with things that could have been avoided.
Let’s continue our example of oversharing at work. I have three options for how to handle my oversharing. I can stop sharing totally, I can share only certain types of information, or I can ignore the warning signs my body is trying to show me, and continue to share my personal life.
If I’m not self-aware, I would struggle to realize that the decision that would serve me best is to completely cut off my oversharing. I might be more concerned about pleasing others. In this way, my decision making is made more difficult.
You know how to take better care of yourself
Self-care has become very popular in recent times, and the aesthetics of it are all over social media. Some recommend waking up at 5:30am and watching the sunrise. Some suggest bubble baths and spa treatments. Still others recommend taking yourself on dates.
Regardless of what the masses are doing, what you can be sure of is that self-care should be much more personalized than the masses have led you to believe.
You know what I’m going to say – it’s example time. If I have no idea what I enjoy doing, what makes me feel relaxed, or what I am interested in, I have no idea how to take care of myself. So, when I finally take a week off from work to recalibrate, and prepare for the new changes and boundaries I’m going to be putting into place, I have no clue what to do with myself. I end up sitting on the couch, staring at my computer or TV. I’ll return to work in a week, exhausted.
If I had only known that I like to go for short hikes with my puppy, I would have done that, and would have returned to work feeling refreshed by my alone time in nature. It’s very important for us to figure out how our bodies and minds like to be treated, and treat them that way.
Knowing what opportunities are actually for you
Not every opportunity that comes your way, or that is offered to you, is in your best interest. Often, as young people, we feel pressured into accepting roles, promotions, positions, and offices that, really, we aren’t that interested in. We do this because we often have a mindset of lack. We’re always accepting anything and everything that’s offered, because we’re afraid to end up jobless, or broke.
Let’s say that, at work, my manager offers me a promotion. I’ll get a 15% pay increase, a bonus of USD$3,500 if I accept the new position, and a company car. The catch to that though, is that I’ll be expected to work more hours than I’m already used to. My work week would move from 40 hours, to 60+ hours. I’d also be required to sign a new contract, that outlines that I understand that I can be called in to work on my off and vacation days, and at short notice.
In this situation, if I’m not aware of the things I value, I would jump to accept the promotion. I would choose a 15% income increase (that will be swallowed by taxes), above spending time with my friends, and relaxing at home with my pet.
When we do things because we think we should, we never stop to evaluate our pros and cons. Being self-aware is a super power that can help us to avoid damaging situations. It’s time to listen to what your body and mind have to say instead of ploughing along unguided.