Here are two exercises for developing self-awareness.
1. The Personal Inventory
The way this self-awareness exercise works is that it requires that you actively look at yourself and start working on the things that don't lead in a positive direction in your life. The process of working on certain issues helps you gain better insight into the areas of your life that might benefit from some extra attention.
- In a notebook divide a page into two columns, label one column "Positive" and the other "Other Than Positive."
- Write down all the positive things you feel, think, and do in the "Positive" column.
- Write down the things you think, feel, and do that lead in an "Other Than Positive" column.
- Read the items in the "Positive" column and praise yourself for each item.
- Look at your "Other Than Positive" column and pick the one item that seems the easiest to deal with. Once you pick a single item, decide on one action you will do to improve that item. Each subsequent day keep picking something to deal with that same item until it is no longer an issue that leads you in a less than positive direction.
- Once your "Other Than Positive" item is no longer an issue, go back to the first step and repeat the entire process.
- Repeat this exercise until you have very few "Other Than Positive" items.
- Remember that developing self-awareness takes months, years, and will likely require a lifetime of commitment to learning and growing.
2. Looking Deep Inside
In this self-awareness exercise you get to take a deeper look at your emotions. A key element of self-awareness is the ability to look deep within and understand who your really are deep down inside and why you feel, think, and do what you do. Here's how it works:
- Think of an issue that creates a lot of discomfort in your life.
- Label that issue with one of these four emotions (whichever fits the best): Anger, Sadness, Happiness, Fear.
- Once you have chosen a single label then allow yourself five minutes to think of the issue and the emotion attached to it. After five minutes, write down your impressions of what you felt.
- Keep repeating this exercise until you have a strong sense that the discomfort is no longer there or is greatly lessened.
- Pick another issue and repeat the entire process.
- Remember that this isn't a one-time activity, it requires long-term commitment to developing your self-awareness.
You'll find these exercises are challenging, some people even find them nearly impossible at first, but that's the whole point of self-awareness; it's a gradual process that takes time and repeated effort. So that you don't get overloaded, I would recommend you work on these exercises on alternating weeks until you get really good at doing them, at which time you can do them simultaneously; the idea is to keep working on them until they become second nature. You'll find that your self-awareness will naturally increase as you do the exercises. Please feel free to share your progress in the comments section below this post or contact me directly, I'd love to hear how you're doing.