When you are unaware of how others interpret your behavior, your actions may not have the result you intend. It is the gaps between intention and impact that create blind spots that can turn into obstacles in our lives. By cultivating your self-awareness, you can close these gaps between intention and motivation. I’m not going lie, self-development always takes some work, but the benefits are so worth it.
Stop Distracting Yourself When Something Feels Bad
No one likes to feel bad or deal with negative feelings. When you have a tough day at work or a breakup with a friend or romantic partner, your first impulse may be to distract yourself so you don’t have to face your feelings.
When this happens, take a mental step back and assess the situation. Ask yourself why you want to escape your feelings. You may have to step out of your comfort zone. Once you figure out why and acknowledge it, permit yourself to feel your emotion as long as you need to honestly.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a daily journal for self-reflection is a great way to stimulate self-awareness. If you’re not used to journaling, it may feel weird, and you may not know what to write. Try these prompts to get you started, and pretty soon you’ll be journaling like a pro.
- What lessons did I learn?
- What challenged me today?
- How did I grow today?
- Did I learn anything about myself today?
- Did I learn anything about others today?
You may not be able to answer them all, at first. That’s okay. Keep any questions you don’t have an answer for in your mind so that you can notice if the answers come up. You can also try a one-sentence daily journal to get you started.
Make Time for Emotional “Check-Ins”
Just like you might check-in with your partner or have your children check-in with you, take some time to check-in with your emotional experience. Ask questions such as “What am I feeling?” “What makes me feel this way?” Without judgment, examine your emotional experience and start connecting the dots between your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Validate the Emotions of Others around You
Learn to notice and validate the emotions of others by identifying with what they are feeling. And why that feeling is appropriate based on what they are going through. You don’t have to agree with their emotion but try to communicate that you understand how they feel.
Mirror Conversations with Others
Mirroring or repeating what you hear someone say is a tried-and-true method showing someone that you are listening to them. The more you learn to identify the emotions of others and repeat back to them to ensure you’re right about what they are feeling, the better you will get at it. The key is to repeat what you thought they meant, so they will know if you got it or not.
These last two can get sticky since conversations can be difficult. Just recently, my partner had a misunderstanding, and even with validating and mirroring, the convo got heated. That’s okay. Sometimes you have to let it rest and return to the subject later. Honest communication, with yourself and others, so that your intentions match their impact, is the key to closing the self-awareness gap.