Strategies for Self-Awareness
How to Manage Yourself Better
According to the Greek writer Pausanias, “Know thyself” was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. This saying has also been attributed to at least six ancient Greek sages, including Socrates.
There is no way to manage yourself better unless you know what makes you tick. Your mental and emotional health depend entirely on your ability to understand why you behave the way you do, and your power to effect the changes necessary if your behavior leaves something to be desired.
Achieving self-awareness involves exploring our individual personalities, values, beliefs, natural inclinations, and tendencies.
When we have a better understanding of ourselves, we are empowered to make changes and to build on our strengths.
Self-awareness is the first step to goal-setting, because how can you set goals for yourself if you don’t know who you are? Knowing what you want is impossible without knowing who you are.
Craving fame and fortune without assessing if you truly have the personality to cope with all its pressures is a thoroughly rocky road, and evidence would suggest it is a road much-travelled.
Self awareness can cover a lot of ground, but here are a few areas to consider:
Preferred learning styles – There are known to be various styles of learning that suit certain individuals better than others.
Learning in the wrong style can hinder your accomplishments and create the impression, to yourself and others, that you are not intelligent. The three main learning styles are auditory, visual and kinesthetic.
Auditory learners better process information when they listen to it; visual learners need to see the information in front of them for it to properly sink in; and kinesthetic learners are truly at their best when they are physically involved in the learning process, actually hands-on feeling their way through it.
There are many other sub-types of learning styles beside these, and unless you know which suits you best, your progress may be hampered.
It does not mean you will have access to the correct style in all situations, but it does mean you will know why your concentration may be drifting and that you need to make that extra effort to concentrate.
Aptitude for specific fields – This includes your natural academic or sporting prowess, so you can play to your strengths and improve in weaker areas.
Personality traits – You need to know whether you are a natural introvert or extrovert, and whether are you prone to being sensitive or judgmental. Introverts who fail to address their feelings can find they are emotionally hijacked whenever they feel socially exposed.
Religious & political beliefs – You may or may not take interest in these areas, but you should know exactly where you stand if you do, so you can rationalize your viewpoints if challenged, or keep quiet when discretion seems the better part of valor.
Emotions can run very deep with both of these subjects, and it may be that managing yourself better means keeping quiet, lest you run the risk of being emotionally hijacked by the ferocity of your views, and alienating all around you.
Values – This would include your ethics, morals, integrity and scruples. These will underpin your character, and you must be aware if any views you hold are perceived as contentious if you are to avoid conflict.
You should also accept that others will not always see your point of view, however “correct” it is, and therefore you should again be prepared to fight your corner with rationale rather than pure emotion, or keep quiet.
However, managing yourself better is a more fundamental skill than simply listing your likes and dislikes. As our emotions are subject to fluctuations, even on a daily basis, we need to develop strategies that allow us to always stay in charge of them as best we can.
The main areas to focus on with our emotional intelligence are:
Emotional awareness – This is our ability to correctly identify core emotions when they appear, including anger, sadness, fear and joy.
It is also useful to spot these in other people, especially as there may be attempts to disguise them.
Emotional self-management – This is our ability to control our emotions and express them in an appropriate manner.
Emotional flexibility – This is the ability to recover from stress, loss, and shocking events that have damaged your emotional equilibrium.
You should also develop the ability to use your emotions in decision- making, balancing thoughts and feelings.
How to Become Socially Aware
Being socially aware is about knowing how you react to social situations, and modifying your interactions with other people to achieve the best results. The net result of social awareness is the development of social skills.
Steps to become socially aware:
1. Learn to identify which types of situations make you uncomfortable, and then alter your behavior to make the best of your circumstances.
2. Learn to become aware of behaviors in other people that may cause you to respond negatively. As you are unlikely to be able to change the other person, you must be able to modify your own behavior to turn the situation into a positive experience.
3. Take responsibility for your own behavior and be willing to apologize for errors in judgment or insensitive actions.
4. Ask others for honest feedback about the way you interact with them. Accept the negative feedback along with the positive and make changes accordingly.
5. Be aware of you body language. Non-verbal communication is as important as the things you say. Positive body language is a boon in your interactions with other people.
6. Learn to listen with genuine interest. Fight the urge to respond immediately and really listen to what the other person is trying to say.
7. Accept that improving your social skills is not an overnight process. Trying to improve or change too many things at once will be counter-productive as you will feel so uncomfortable that you may suffer an emotional hijacking.
8. Maximize your positive personality traits and use them to your advantage when interacting with others.
How to Manage Your Relationships
Managing your relationships must start with managing yourself. You cannot manage the bad traits out of other people very easily, so you must present yourself as positively as you can. In this way, you may find that your good example is reflected by the other person.
Whether in the home or the workplace, relationships have to be managed. This is because relationships cannot be allowed to become stagnant. To work well, they must continually develop and grow.
A good working relationship is a dynamic one. This keeps everyone on their toes and performing at their best. This means being proactive, tackling issues head-on, seeking resolutions, and searching for areas in which improvements can be made.
When people are in well-managed relationships they feel aligned, committed, on board and motivated.
They know their needs are being considered, their individual ways are being accommodated, and their contributions are acknowledged.
People want to know that they are important to an organization, and that their work is important to the goals of the organization.
Communication, as ever, is key to building successful relationships, because where there is no discourse, no party can know how anyone else truly feels – not until resentments begin to bubble over and cause problems.
Effective communication involves asking questions and listening to the answers.
Humor is a great boost to any relationship and this does not have to create a flippant attitude. In fact, flippancy is more likely to develop in the absence of healthy humor.
You should also make sure you do not ask for too much from people. You must be reasonable. Making unrealistic demands is only going to breed resentment.
Other people like to feel they are being treated fairly; that means fairly according to their behavior, and in relation to how you treat others.
Consistency is important in creating expectations of fairness that take the kick out of any unpleasant situations you have to manage.
If everyone knows they are being treated according to a set of guidelines that apply to everyone, they will be less likely to react emotionally.
Remember to say “please” and “thank you”. It takes no time or effort, but has a significant effect on the quality of a relationship, especially if the person saying these things does not, strictly speaking, need to because they are in a position of power.