A big part of building self-awareness is being able to express your creativity. I’ve talked with many people over the years who deny their creativity by saying things like:
- I’m not creative.
- It’s hard to be creative.
- I just stick to practical things.
- I don’t believe in that airy-fairy stuff.
- I’m not an artist.
These statements were probably deposited into their minds by a parent, teacher, or friend and, over time, became a way of life. You may also hear these types of messages in your head but the key is to ignore them and keep doing your thing.
If you listen to all the naysayers you’ll never follow your dreams. Pay attention to your inner voice, the one that knows how talented you are and how important what you have to say is. Keep moving forward no matter what the critics say. Continue building your self-awareness so you understand what you really want to do in life.
How do you affirm your creativity instead of denying it?
Living courageously requires building your self-awareness and doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable, such as:
- Healing your inner hurts.
- Daring to pursue your dreams.
- Admitting mistakes.
- Writing poetry.
- Doing things to make the world a better place.
- Advocating for people who lack power.
- Standing up to injustice.
- Showing the world the real you.
- Feeling your feelings.
- Letting your voice be heard.
Anyone can just let life happen to them. The challenge is to strive for deeper meaning and substance, an existence you can be proud of because you made a significant difference in some way, and not just for yourself. I enjoy connecting with people who value self-awareness because they are often the ones discussing the difficult topics that no one else wants to delve into.
What are your thoughts on living courageously?
I’ve worked with a lot of people in leadership positions and I’ve noticed that many genuinely believe they have to be stern and authoritarian instead of being kind. It’s like they lack any self-awareness about how they affect others. This harsh approach is the result of being sold the narrative that you have to be a hard-charging bully to get anything done, the punitive approach to leadership. We even routinely reward people who do unsavory things, including hurting others.
My modest proposal would be to gradually shift from encouraging harsh behavior to celebrating self-awareness and kindness. There is nothing a severe person can accomplish that a kind person can’t. You can treat people really well and still get amazing results in your personal or professional life. You can do things that uplift others and help build a more beneficial world for everyone.
Kindness is a valuable tool that can inspire and motivate the people around you. The proof is that individuals respond much more positively to praise than they do to criticism or punishment. Praise encourages people to try harder while punishment leads to doing whatever is necessary to avoid more punishment. Our current behavioral model for our personal and professional lives is punitive. What if we shifted to being kind to each other? It might even lead to, gasp, people feeling good about themselves.
If you’re a kind person, keep doing it. You’re a vital resource and a valuable example for the individuals around you. At very least, you demonstrate that people don’t have to be punitive and harsh and that there’s another, more positive alternative. I love providing life coaching for people who value self-awareness because they know how to treat others with empathy and care.
What ideas do you have about how kind people can change the world?
Many individuals lack the self-awareness to realize how precious life is and wait until they’re on their deathbeds before they admit they would have liked to resolve certain issues in their lives or behave differently. People often live their lives unconsciously and feel, think, and behave unfavorably or unproductively. I would love for them to ask themselves: If life is precious,
- Why would I ever hate someone?
- Why would I spend one more moment living in fear?
- Why would I let my past hold me back?
- Why would I resist change?
- Why would I not live every moment to its fullest capacity?
- Why would I not pursue my dreams?
- Why would I live my life based on my hurts?
- Why would I not do everything in my power to treat myself and others well?
- Why would I not live a deeply meaningful and enlightened life?
So many people never ask themselves these types of questions, they just exist unconsciously. Luckily, life doesn’t have to be a sequence of reactions to unforeseen events, you can decide to move it in any direction you wish. It’s possible to keep building your self-awareness so you can live courageously and authentically instead of doing stuff that gets in the way and takes you off your true path.
Self-aware people constantly strive to find out who they are deep inside and how they can make the world a better place. You only have one chance to enjoy your time on this planet. What do you do with your precious life?
I wasn’t always into self-awareness. The person I am now is very different from the one I was years ago. I used to be driven by the need to feel superior, obsessed with what others thought about me; the kind of person who would put other people down to feel better about himself. At the same time, I stuffed my feelings deep inside, tried to ignore them and, consequently, felt horribly unbalanced and unhappy most of the time.
I grew up in a competitive family where you had to fight to be seen and heard. I was not encouraged to acknowledge or work out any of my inner conflicts, I simply had to hold them in and try to appear invincible. My family was ill-equipped to deal with anything emotional. Sure, we knew how to be angry, or sad, or fake happy, but not how to really deal with the core issues that were troubling us. The only way I got any attention was to be dramatic or clown-like because everyone else was so busy sucking all the energy out of everything they touched. This environment taught me to keep things to myself.
When was in my teens, I was an insecure mess who didn’t know how to deal with himself or others. I was hurting constantly but was not allowed to talk about it. I didn’t know how to build positive relationships. In my twenties I had no idea who I was and treated myself poorly because of it. People on the outside would probably say that I was affable and outgoing, but inside I was a mess. I hurt a lot of people in my teens, twenties, and thirties because I didn’t know who I was.
Somewhere along the way I realized that I felt uneasy and disjointed because I wasn’t living life as myself. I had learned to conform to the wishes of my family or friends but I hadn’t learned to listen to my own inner voice. As soon as I discovered I could be myself, I started shedding all the garbage that had piled up on me and became a kinder, more empathic, more whole person. I pursued my own goals in life and worked hard to live genuinely. Gradually, I began building my self-awareness and healing the hurts from my past.
The person I am now barely resembles the one I used to be. I love being this person and hope it helps build a better world instead of one filed with strife and sadness. What kind of person are you right now?
When you possess self-awareness you’ll likely demonstrate a flexibility to adapt to different situations and change course in life when unforeseen obstacles present themselves. If you’ve ever interacted with someone who lacks flexibility, you know how tragically sad it is when they are unable to change no matter what the consequences or rewards.
One of the major characteristics of truly happy people is the ability to bend instead of break by being open to making changes, learning new things, and continually growing. Taking a candid look at yourself and making meaningful and sometimes difficult adjustments requires significant courage; being stubborn requires none.
The reward of being flexible is that you’ll understand what it is to be able to adapt and thrive regardless of the situation. The thing I love about providing coaching for people who value self-awareness is that they are open to moving in new and exciting directions instead of staying stuck in one place.
How does flexibility affect your life?
Our culture often defines success it as having a lot of money, prestige, or power. My interpretation of success is building your self-awareness so you can be in touch with who you are inside and live in such a way that you don’t need to worry about wealth or influence.
There are countless really rich and powerful people who are miserable; you can tell because they don’t treat others well. Anyone who is willing to harm other people doesn’t feel good about himself or herself deep inside. Happy, balanced, fulfilled people treat themselves and others kindly because their lives are centered around creating a positive world rather than amassing wealth or crushing others.
I love providing life coaching for people who value self-awareness because they tend to view success in terms of how healthy they are, not how much stuff they have or trophies they display on the mantle. Even if you don’t make a penny, you can still create something of great value. How do you define success?