6 Practical Ways to Become More Self-Aware

6 Practical Ways to Become More Self-Aware

via Real Simple by Kirsten Nunez

How well do you know yourself? If you’re like most people, you’re probably familiar with the basics: You like this, hate that, and have a knack for a certain skill. But what about your behaviors and thoughts—and how they affect your life? You know, the deep stuff. 

That’s where self-awareness comes in. “Self-awareness is about looking at who you are in a way that acknowledges how you impact others [and] how they impact you,” explains therapist Marcelle J. Craig, LMFT. It also involves understanding your emotions and internal narrative, allowing you to lead a fulfilling life. “It’s the first step to changing and growing,” says Craig.

On that note, the practice of self-awareness is just that: a practice. Learning how to be self-aware is a life-long journey, and it’s never too late to start. Here are some therapist-approved strategies for understanding yourself and who you truly are.  

1Seek out new experiences.

One of the best ways to boost self-awareness is to immerse yourself in new experiences. This lets you step outside of your comfort zone, giving you a chance to learn how you act, think, and feel in unfamiliar situations. What’s more, it creates opportunities to discover more positive qualities about yourself, notes Craig. 

After all, your comfort zone is a familiar space. It’s the psychological state where you exist on autopilot, complete with predictable thoughts and emotions. This limits your perspective to just part of who you are, rather than you as a whole person. 

Fortunately, a new experience doesn’t need to be complex or expensive. It can be as simple as trying a new hobby, chatting with new people, or exploring a neighboring town. Heck, even cooking a new-to-you recipe counts as a new experience. Whatever you choose to do, these experiences will help you gain new outlooks on yourself. 

2Ask people for feedback about yourself.

Often, learning about yourself means stepping outside of your own shoes. Ask someone you trust—like a sibling or close friend—to share their perspective on your attitudes, traits, or behaviors. This can help you become aware of the things you do and say, as well as how others perceive you. From there, you can use this info to explore aspects of yourself that you’d like to change or nurture. Sometimes, an outside perspective is necessary to dispel negative thought patterns or fortify positive ones, says Keischa Pruden, LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS, therapist and founder of Pruden Counseling Concepts.

Admittedly, accepting feedback gracefully isn’t easy. Remind yourself that truly constructive feedback isn’t an attack on who you are as a person. Instead, it’s a valuable tool that provides guidance for potential growth and self-development. While you’re at it, do your best to fully listen without getting defensive. This will make it easier for the other person to provide truly honest feedback…

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