They say you should always be aware of your surroundings, but often before you can do that, you need to be aware of yourself.
On the surface, self-awareness seems like it should be second nature, but in reality, it can take some time and effort to be truly self-aware.
Here are 10 reasons you should take the time to concentrate on self-awareness, along with tips on how to do so.
1. It Improves Leadership
Leaders aren’t flawless. In fact, the best leaders have plenty of flaws. The only difference between them is they’re actually aware of what their own weaknesses are.
It’s always tempting to focus on your strengths, but it can be just as important to focus on your weaknesses and fears. All it takes is a moment or two of reflection to realize areas where you might need help.
Leaders don’t necessarily see fears and weaknesses as flaws. Instead, they prefer to think of them as opportunities for growth — areas where they can show marked improvement.
2. It Improves Your Intuition
A developed intuition is a natural result of self-awareness. Being aware of your own thoughts and feelings, both positive and negative, can help you become more intuitive about the thoughts and feelings of those around you.
This has plenty of benefits, of course, including the fact that it will make you a more compassionate person. When you’re aware of your own thoughts and feelings, you learn how to deal with that information. That, in turn, can give you the ability to help others who might be in similar situations.
3. It Helps You Live Guilt-Free
When you have feelings of guilt, shame or regret, it can be tempting to suppress those feelings and instead focus on the positive things in your life. That can help you get by for a bit, but at some point, those feelings will rise up again.
One way to deal with these types of feelings is a process known as shadow work. It’s all about making a conscious effort to think about and deal with your “shadows” or “demons” — the things you’re ashamed of thinking about. Acknowledging why you feel guilt or shame is the first step toward shedding those feelings.
4. It Encourages Success
Self-awareness doesn’t automatically lead to success in your life and career, but it certainly helps — a lot. According to various surveys, roughly 95 percent of people think they are self-aware, yet only 10 to 15 percent of people actually are.
Those who truly are self-aware often tend to deliver better performances at work, and as we’ve already discussed, they also become stronger leaders. There is even evidence that companies that hire more self-aware employees can have better financial performance.
5. It Makes You Happy
When it comes to happiness, your natural inclination may be to focus on your strengths and positive qualities while suppressing your weaknesses and negative qualities. That may “feel” right, but in reality, you will be much happier if you’re actively aware of all aspects of your life, both positive and negative.
When you practice self-awareness, it helps you understand who you really are, for better or for worse. Once you understand this, you can make better decisions based both on who you already are and who you would like to be.
6. It Makes You Employable
Self-awareness isn’t something that’s only good for your mind. It can be good for your career as well. In fact, some universities teach students that self-awareness is a quality that makes you more attractive to employers.
That’s because self-awareness leads to all sorts of other qualities that are helpful in the workplace, such as strong interpersonal communication skills and the ability to meet and overcome challenges and obstacles.
7. It Improves Your Health
One aspect of self-awareness that often gets lost in the shuffle is its impact on your physical health. Being aware of yourself also includes being mindful of what you eat, as well as when you eat and who you eat with.
When you eat mindfully, you’ll naturally eat a healthier diet because you’ll be less inclined to mindlessly munch on things that aren’t good for your body. In addition to the actual food, mindful eating also includes thinking about what it took to get your food on your plate, from the farmers in the field to the workers in the store.
8. It Makes You Empathetic
We’ve already discussed how being self-aware makes you a more intuitive person, and that ties into how it can make you empathetic toward others as well. When you’re aware of your own skills and experiences, it helps you understand the same thing about others.
It also helps you understand other perspectives. Even if you can’t necessarily relate to someone else’s perspective, being self-aware will at least help you respect those perspectives and be open to learning more about them.
9. It Encourages Honesty
Everybody respects honesty, and self-awareness makes you a more honest person in two ways — honest with yourself and honest with others.
Being aware of both your strengths and weaknesses forces you to look at them honestly. Once you’re honest with yourself, you can then self-analyze and figure out ways to improve on your weaknesses and further refine your strengths.
And once you’re honest with yourself, it makes it much easier to be open and honest with others. Self-awareness breeds self-confidence, which can be a key quality among honest people.
10. It Makes You Realize What You Want
Sometimes we have wants in our life, only to be disappointed when we finally obtain those things, whatever they may be. Being self-aware can help you realize what you really want. Sometimes it can strengthen your desire to meet a certain goal, and other times it will uncover wants you didn’t even know you had.
Being self-aware is much different than being self-centered. When you’re truly aware of yourself, you realize you’re not the most important person in the room, and it helps you become empathetic and compassionate toward others.
With so many positive side effects, there really is no reason for you not to devote some time to self-awareness.