A quick glance at any news outlet will show you many examples of people who’ve lost it – and by “lost it,” I mean their temper. Road rage, bar fights, a long wait at a restaurant…
Now, it’s perfectly normal to have moments of anger or impulsivity from time to time, but if this is something that constantly happens to you, it might be time to take a closer look at how well you can recognize your areas of weaknesses.
In short – your level of self-awareness. Because this is the key to monitoring your thoughts and emotions and pinpointing what needs to change. Without it, personal growth is next to impossible.
How do people with a strong sense of self-awareness and personal growth do it?
Well, for one thing, they’re really intentional about it. They have certain habits that cultivate self-awareness. Here they are:
1) They do regular self-reflection
Any self-aware person will tell you that it all begins with reflection. After all, how can you improve or change something in yourself if you can’t even identify it?
So, when they feel angry, they examine what exactly triggered it. When something bothers them, they sit down and get to the root of it.
They even think about their thinking – as in, why do I think this way? Am I making this decision free of biases, or is there a touch of prejudice in there?
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about navel-gazing at all for the sake of ego and excessive self-love. It’s about knowing oneself for the purpose of growth and progress.
2) They set personal boundaries
Because of that habit of self-reflection, self-aware people know where exactly their boundaries lie. They know what they’re comfortable with and what they won’t tolerate.
This used to be a thorny issue for me, as I was prone to people-pleasing and doing anything to maintain peace around me.
Unfortunately, I found out soon enough that I was forgetting the peace that I should have prioritized – the one within me.
Today, I’m more conscious about it, again, thanks to the time I take to sit down and reflect on my choices.
I’m now more mindful about when someone’s overstepping and asking me for something I’m not willing to give.
3) They practice mindfulness
You can’t check yourself if you’re not mindful. Period.
Let me give you an example:
Years ago, whenever I was stressed or tired from work, I would have a short fuse. I’d blurt out sarcastic comments or lash out at anyone who made the mistake of talking to me.
Once I started getting into mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation, though, I became more aware of my thought processes. I could “watch” my thoughts better and, thus, police myself.
I could stop mindless, knee-jerk, hurtful words from coming out because I now had the power (yes, it really feels like a special power) to control myself. I was no longer at the mercy of my emotions.
Which leads me to my next point…
4) They pause to consider how their actions affect others
Have you seen the Netflix show Beef? That show is such a perfect cautionary tale about the lack of self-awareness.
The two main characters, both sorely lacking the ability to control themselves, never stopped to consider how their singular act of engaging in road rage would affect all the people around them.
By the time the last few episodes rolled around, I found myself feeling so heartbroken at all the damage they caused, both to themselves and their loved ones.
See, that’s something that would never happen to a self-aware person. They would know to stop and think:
If I do this, will I make the other person feel bad? Is this decision worth the pain it will cause? What are the consequences?
They know they don’t exist in a vacuum – everything they do and say has far-reaching consequences.
5) They practice active listening
Another habit self-aware people do is active listening. They don’t just listen to respond; they listen to understand.
This is one of the reasons why they have such great relationships. It’s also how they add to their wealth of knowledge about the human experience.
Because they’re excellent listeners, they learn so much from other people’s perspectives and experiences.
6) They regularly seek feedback
Most people don’t normally ask others for feedback about their performance or behavior. In fact, they’d rather be left alone and not have to receive notes from others!
That’s why it’s so refreshing when someone approaches me and asks for feedback. I think it shows tremendous initiative and a genuine desire to grow. Right away, I can tell – this one’s a self-aware person!
7) They apologize when necessary
Another thing that’s hard for most people but easy for the self-aware is accountability.
If you haven’t noticed yet, people with a strong sense of self-awareness and personal growth own their lives. They are in the driver’s seat, no matter where the journey takes them.
Just as they take responsibility for their successes, they do the same thing with their mistakes, too.
8) They learn from their mistakes
Motivational speaker Mel Robbins said an interesting thing about apologies. “The only real apology is behavior change.”
That’s so true, isn’t it?
Think about it: I’m pretty sure you’ve got one or two people in your life who keep saying sorry for the same thing…over and over and over.
Are they really sorry, then?
I don’t think so. Because if they were, they would make an actual effort to learn from their mistake and change the behavior.
Once again, self-aware people show their advantage here because they are all about growing and being better. When they make mistakes, they know to examine that and make a plan so it won’t happen again.
9) They nourish emotional intelligence
All of the points above are habits that fall under this huge umbrella of nurturing emotional intelligence.
You see, when you’re constantly examining your thoughts, emotions, and motivations and being considerate of other people, you naturally develop a higher EQ.
What are some other habits that can boost your EQ?
- Embracing new experiences
- Choosing to be positive
- Knowing how to agree to disagree
- Recognizing that feelings aren’t facts
- Practicing emotional management
10) They practice self-discipline
I’m saving this one for last because it really highlights how different self-aware people are from the rest.
Look, knowing and understanding how you feel is all well and good, but do you do the next step? I mean, do your actions demonstrate this understanding?
For example, you might be aware you’re angry and you clearly understand why. But then, instead of handling it calmly, you go ahead and blow up anyway. Or deal with it passive-aggressively.
Does that sound ironic? You bet it is. And I used to do it myself – knowing how I felt and choosing to go low just the same.
That’s where self-discipline comes in. It’s not enough to know yourself; you also need to have the consistent willpower to say no to distractions and temptations. You need to be comfortable with delayed gratification.
My own journey towards higher self-awareness and growth wasn’t smooth and easy. It took a lot of mindfulness and constant looking inwards. And it’s not over yet, because changes come and go in life, and with each one, I continue to evolve.
But one thing I’ve learned that really helps with gauging my level of self-awareness is to look at my relationships.
Our relationships often mirror our inner world. So, check yours – if all’s well and good, that’s a great sign you’re on the right track!