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  • Writer's pictureHuy Ing Lay

Activating your Self-Awareness: The Gift of Self-Discovery

Looking at oneself with a distant lens.

Oftentimes nowadays we come across the word “self-awareness”. But what does self-awareness actually entail? By definition, self-awareness means being aware of one’s own feelings, emotions, thoughts, and characteristics. According to John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author, self-awareness is “the recognition of one's own emotional state at any given point in time.”Even if we often have an idea of what self-awareness actually is, to dig deeper into it requires much more effort. Self-awareness is a lifelong journey which requires that one is continuously looking at oneself with a distant lens. Associate professor of psychology at Barnard college, Tara Well, explained that “social scientists have discovered that people often grossly overestimate their level of self-awareness.” And that could imply that self-awareness is actually a rare quality.

One of the ways to activate self-awareness is to be curious about yourself and to cultivate the habit of asking questions. This involves assessing your own emotions and thoughts, reflecting about why you are thinking about certain things, and examining yourself from different perspectives. Moreover, it also means embracing gratitude, openness, and the understanding that, as human beings, we learn through experience and practice guided by our curiosity.

Furthermore, instead of defending yourself from certain circumstances, you can admit that sometimes the way you understand things is not a completely wholesome one. You are open-minded to view and re-evaluate yourself from another perspective, which can help you realize that you may differ from your self-assumptions. Self-awareness is a dynamic process, as it requires that you are constantly adjusting, refining, and improving how you view your inner self.

Moving forward but also pausing and observing the scenery.

Additionally, activating your self-awareness requires pauses and reflection. It is not only about moving forward, but also about knowing that you have the choice to stop and observe the scenery. Taking time for a deeper reflection enables you to gain clarity over your own emotions, thought processes, and behavioral tendencies in various situations. Even if we sometimes think we are self-aware, that does not mean we have reached a final stage of self-awareness where there is nothing more to build on. Self-awareness is like a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. The more we invest time and effort in it, the stronger it becomes and the more it benefits us.

Recognizing the patterns of our own behaviors and our psychological responses is the basis foundation to how we can ultimately transcend our current selves and align with our true selves. Moreover, it empowers and provides us with genuine ownership of ourselves, which leads to increased self-confidence, self-esteem, authenticity, and curiosity. Self-awareness enables us to constantly change ourselves for the better and to express who we really are. Therefore, self-awareness is the essential foundation for continuous growth, self-transformation, and especially emotional intelligence.

Coconut tree shadow reflections on white sands implies a view of lucidity.

If you wonder how to put all this into practice, we provide you with some simple tips to activate your self-awareness. First, create your own space and allocate some time for yourself. This can provide an opportunity for you to reflect and identify your mistakes, gaps, and biases in how you view yourself and the world around you. You can reflect by writing down your thoughts, expressing your feelings through art, or simply sitting still and tuning in. The key is to review your past experiences and understand your own system. Only when we silence the external noises, we can hear the voice that speaks inside us.

Second, take a break and find a place surrounded by nature. Take your time and use your five senses to listen to the sounds around you, feel the air flowing through you and the wind touching your skin, look and observe the scenery through your eyes, smell the leaves, and especially take a moment to inhale and exhale. Allow yourself to experience everything surrounding you, to be still with it, to sit and listen to the bird chirping and feel cool fresh grass that touches your skin. This activity can help you to be more mindful, present, and free yourself from disturbing thoughts that block your own clarity.

Third, try to journal or write a diary of your thoughts and emotions that you experience. This can help you to gain knowledge of your behavioral and thought patterns in different situations, which can allow you to observe yourself from another perspective. When journaling, you can also describe yourself as someone you know well. This can enhance how you portray yourself as a person and promote your understanding of yourself. Another way to do journaling is free flow journaling which means allowing yourself to write whatever that comes to your mind without worrying about grammar or correct spelling; here your sole purpose is to openly express your thoughts.

Fourth, check in with yourself regularly. It is also important to tune in to yourself on a daily basis by checking in early in the morning or at night before you go to bed, which can help you to recognize your emotional state. For example, you can ask yourself “How do I feel now?” or “What is this feeling?”

The journey of self-awareness heads towards transformations, endless growths, and emotional intelligence.

Lastly, activating self-awareness requires constant self-reflections, curiosity, self-examination, and especially your own acceptance of who you are. More importantly, nature is a valuable tool in fostering self-awareness because it provides a calm, present and non-judgemental setting to tune in to your five senses and discover yourself. As a whole, self-awareness is the process of pausing, editing, and enhancing our own view and cleaning our lens of how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings. And the cleaner our lenses are, the clearer we can see the picture in front of us. And the more we can see ourselves, the more we can unlock our own potential and map our own direction authentically.


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