One valuable life skill is self-awareness. It is very useful to know ourselves. Maybe somewhat un-intuitively, knowing ourselves also helps us to communicate with others more effectively, and to be more empathetic of others.
One aspect of self-awareness is to be able to find out more about ourselves “from the inside in”: self-introspection. What are my values? Sensitivities? Strengths of character? Weaknesses? What do I enjoy or dislike? What motivates me? How am I like other people I know, and how am I different? Another side of self-awareness is to be able to see ourselves “from the outside in” – to see how others may perceive us, and how that is similar or different to how we see ourselves.
We have physical characteristics—how tall we are, how long our little toe is, our hair color, etc. We also have other characteristics such as temperament and personality. We have emotions, and thoughts, reactions and intuitions. There are various ways of categorizing and comparing human beings, a notable one being by “personality type”. There are measures of intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ).
Even though the overall value of categorizing people into different types is up for debate, the process of taking tests and quizzes to find out what category we fall into can help us know ourselves better. The results can help us understand our unique qualities that are an advantage to us in some situations, and perhaps a disadvantage in others. Comparing and contrasting personality types can also help us to see ourselves as others might see us, in ways that we previously could not. We might get a glimpse of ourselves from someone else’s perspective! We may begin to understand that certain qualities are not necessarily “good” or “bad”, compared to others. They are simply differences and make us all unique human beings.
Please note that if you discover that you have deep and seemingly unending anger, fear, shame, or unhappiness, it is probably wise to seek professional help from a qualified counselor to be able to come to grips with these feelings.
Typically, increased self-awareness will help us find ways to cope more effectively with life’s demands and help us develop greater Emotional Intelligence – the subject of next week’s post!
Here are some online resources for developing greater self-awareness: