5 Ways to Improve Your
Self-Knowledge and Awareness
By Olivia Williams Jones
Self-knowledge and self-awareness are two crucial topics you won’t cover in school. They are some of the most important tools that can help you find your calling and truly achieve success. A lot of people, if not most, spend their life doing what other people told them to do, living lives without scratching the surface of awareness and totally oblivious to the most important thing they should understand – themselves. The key to the balanced perception of the world does not lie in knowing everything about it, but in ourselves, so if you feel the need to break through the veil of white noise that has become your life, here are seven ways to improve your self-knowledge and awareness.
Start practicing self-honesty
Lying is the inescapable part of human nature. We lie to make others feel better, we lie to gain something, we do it to avoid conflict. Every person that has ever lived was forced to lie at least once, even some truly remarkable people. Most of us lie on a daily basis and it is impossible to ask of one to stop doing this just like that. Instead, you can start practicing a very important thing – stop lying to yourself. Self-honesty is the first step to achieving the coveted self-knowledge and self-awareness.
Keep asking for feedback
Nothing we do exists in a bubble. Insulated work is not much more than a hobby and if you want to create a better life for yourself and improve yourself, you have to start doing something that can earn you a living (not necessarily money). In order to earn a living from your work, somebody has to get something from it which means that, in order to become successful in it and have a desirable skillset, you have to keep asking for feedback. Feedback is not a matter of benchmarks or milestones – you don’t create a gothic cathedral and ask for the feedback after the act. You have to ask for it every step of the way, all the time, from your peers, your superiors and those that are more skilled in a particular discipline than you.
Leave your ego at the door
Feedback can often be hurtful or even excruciating. This means that you still have a long way to go, but it is also a moment when many people fall into one of two traps: they either become defeatist or they become vain. Neither of these two mindsets does you any favors, so you should just leave your ego at the door as you get feedback and, while we are at it, practice self-honesty. Try to be detached and analytical about your mistakes if you want to achieve something. The more mistakes you make, and the more corrections you make, you’ll learn more about yourself. Improving self-awareness through practice is usually the less-painful way to attain self-knowledge, so this might be the most important route of all you’ll undertake.
Get out of your comfort zone
Routes can also be physical ones. Routine tends to turn our minds into quagmire of resignation and self-doubt. While self-doubt has its benefits, the excess of it is just as bad as overconfidence. If you feel as if you are trapped in the loop, get out of your comfort zone and do something unpredictable. It can be something as simple as, for example, going to an art gallery or a theater, and it can be something as extreme as going on a far-distant trip. You can head to the other side of the world on one of many interesting cruise lines on offer or head into the wilderness of lush, high mountains for a camping adventure. Zoning out of your life can give you new perspective and help you reassess your attitude. It also gives you a chance to truly go on a “journey inward” as you won’t be surrounded by external things that tend to define your identity.
Take care of yourself physically
At the end of the day, it is absolutely crucial to take care of yourself physically. You can hardly improve your self-knowledge and awareness if you are besieged with health problems from all sides. It is not a matter of superficial looks or perfunctory discipline. Keeping yourself healthy also improves your circulation and absorption of vitamins – this bodes well for the physiology of your brain and your synapses. People who take care of themselves tend not only to live longer but retain knowledge, intelligence and wit for as long as they live. Of course, this is not a rule, but statistics is the best any of us can hope for.
Once you truly get to know yourself, you will not only be more efficient in tackling life challenges, but you’ll also know how to assess what sort of skill-building strategy you should follow. Life is all about learning and the first cornerstone lies within. Without laying it in its rightful place, without the solid ground beneath your feet, everything you ever build in your life will stand on a shaky foundation and it will crumble with the first shockwave that hits your life. Don’t be one of those people that completely fall apart at the feet of life’s unavoidable tragedies and invest in self-knowledge and awareness in time.