I hear that the term self-awareness is the latest sexy term. Self-awareness is about knowledge, understanding, and recognition of who you are. Knowing who you are means that you’re mindful of your personality, your character, your motives, your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions, and your desires. Being self-aware means being able to identify what makes you unique, in terms of your thoughts and actions — from sensuality to life ambitions.
Having all this information can be empowering, because when you know yourself, you’re more likely to be introspective, which is an important element of healing and transformation. Writing may be one way to foster self-awareness because it helps you translate your feelings and thoughts into words and possibly give meaning to it — thus, the kinship between writing and self-awareness.
Here are some questions you can address in your journal to help you consciously get to know yourself a little better:
- Who is the most important person in my life?
- What is my most valuable possession?
- What am I good at?
- What do I need to improve?
- What makes me tired?
- What stresses me out?
- What do I do to calm myself?
- What makes me happy?
- What makes me sad?
- What makes me angry?
- What am I afraid of?
- What are my spiritual beliefs?
- What is the most vivid memory from my childhood?
- If I could give away one of my possessions, what would it be?
- What is my favorite food? Beverage?
- What type of person do I aspire to be?
- What characteristics do my dearest friends have?
In addition to writing, there are other ways to increase your self-awareness, which involves nurturing your body, mind, and spirit. The most important thing to remember is to choose the technique that feels just right for you. After a while, you might find that you have favorite techniques that you use on a regular basis.
Here are other ways to increase your self-awareness:
Setting intentions involves focusing your thoughts in a particular direction with the goal of manifesting what you want in life. Of course, the first step in any action is deciding what you’d like to change. It’s like setting your mind to do something, which might be as simple as finishing a sweater for a new grandchild or deciding to bestow kindness on everyone you meet on a particular day. In general, setting an intention is more short term than setting a goal. Typically, there is no future outcome associated with setting an intention.
Mindfulness meditation, which originated in Buddhist circles, encourages you to focus on feelings, experiences, and internal and external processes in a nonjudgmental manner. It is about being fully present in the moment, which makes you more aware of yourself, others, and your environment. Mindfulness meditation is about paying attention to the thoughts racing through your mind without obsessing about them or trying to fix them in any particular way. Meditation is also one of the best ways to increase self-awareness and calm your nerves.
Guided creative visualization is a technique in which you close your eyes and use your imagination to create what you want in life. This can include everything from manifesting satisfying relationships, good health, and financial abundance to inner peace and harmony. For some people, creative visualization is an effective way to deal with psychological or physical wounds because it offers a way to cope with those traumatic events. It can also open you up to new creative energies and transpersonal realms that can be beneficial for your self-expression and writing.
Hypnosis, which has many applications, works by altering the triggers in your brain. It can be used to treat trauma; minimize self-sabotage issues; assist you in overcoming fears and weight-management concerns; and help you release a specific habit or deal with denial. If you’re working through certain mental, emotional, or physical challenges, hypnosis can keep you on track with the recommended or prescribed treatment. For example, if you’re trying to break a pattern of addictive behavior, hypnosis can help, because when you spend time concentrating on your inner self — focusing on what works and what doesn’t — then change and transformation is more apt to follow.
Breathing/breathwork involves connecting with what we all need to do to keep alive — breathe. The first thing we do when we’re born is take a breath, and the last thing we do before we die is take a breath. Because it’s something we do almost unconsciously, most of us take breathing for granted, and we rarely think about it. But to maintain a sense of optimal well-being and health, it’s a good idea for us to be conscious of our breath because it keeps us in touch with our body and supports change and transformation.
Recalling your dreams provides a doorway into your unconscious mind and inner world. Sometimes dreams can offer us guidance, self-discovery, and spiritual growth and, in some cases, be healing. Our dreams can contribute to our creative process and help us make decisions and solve problems. One colleague of mine says that his dreams actually guide him. For example, before he goes to bed at night, he writes down a question with the hope that the answer will come to him in his dreams, and often, the following morning he has the answer.
Of course, not all dreams offer the answers we want, but there’s no doubt that dreams can heighten your awareness about important issues in your life.Tapping into your shadow is a concept that was introduced by Carl Jung. The shadow is the unconscious part of ourselves that is often hidden from our immediate awareness. It is composed of impulses that society views as unacceptable; therefore, they’re relegated to the unconscious mind. This occurs because our conscious mind does not want to claim ownership of those feelings or instincts, as some of these emotions might relate to hatred, jealousy, aggressiveness, cruelty, and so on. Or maybe it’s about walking around naked, spouting nasty comments, or making love to everyone we find sexy. Regardless of the particulars, most people view the qualities that make up the shadow as a part of themselves they’d rather not think about.
Originally published at www.psychologytoday.com.