“Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.” – Lawrence Bossidy
Self-awareness, I find, is something that other people often find uncomfortable. I don’t know what it is about it, but others often find my moments of self-awareness to be me ‘being down on myself’ or rather, self-critical, and in those moments where I own my successes I am being ‘overconfident’.
It is quite British, perhaps, to be afraid of being honest, constructive, and conscious around your own behaviours. It is this that makes people say things like, ‘Hey. Don’t be so down on yourself. You are good at that thing, really.’ My reaction to that is to remind them that I am not beating myself up, I am merely attempting to be present and conscious with myself. It is OK to have moments of failure, for these are opportunities for growth. It is when we try and paper over the cracks and ignore those moments when we stumble which lead to bigger failures down the line.
Somewhere where people really struggle to be self-aware is in their emotional behaviour; what their signs of emotional decline are, for example. Or what triggers certain reactions. Or what parts of your emotional self you need to keep an eye on.
Emotional intelligence of the self also helps you to recognise emotional journeys in other people, and therefore a more conscious colleague or leader.
Why should you be more conscious of your emotional self?
1. Preventative Damage Control
We all have things that set us off, and we all have reactions and behaviours that we would rather not display. For me, I pride myself on having patience, but sometimes my fuse becomes shorter than I would like because I didn’t pay attention to my triggers. Be present with yourself and try to learn what it is that sets you off. If you do this, then you will be able to learn how to quash and calm these behaviours before they even happen.
2. Lessons Learnt
If you begin to be more conscious of how your emotions feel and what triggers them, you are in a much better position to manage yourself. You are much less likely to fall victim to emotional outbreaks and much more able to support your productivity by taking appropriate measures for you. With me, for example, I know that if I get frustrated with a task, I get anxious. What is best for me is to take hourly brain breaks, this helps me to get out of my head and not to dwell on work-related anxiety.
3. Empathising With Others
If you are more in touch with emotions in general, you are in a better position to empathise with and support others if they are going through a rough patch. You will also be able to recognise when colleagues are spiralling… even if they have not noticed themselves. Advice and guidance are much easier to find within yourself if you have personal experience.
4. Avoid Emotional Build Up
If tough emotions are not managed and addressed on a regular basis, they tend to fester and explode at some point. This is (still) particularly common with men. When this happens, your emotions are much harder to unravel, as it is often tricky to find the source of a problem when many events and emotions are piled on top of it. Regular emotional maintenance is key.
How do you become self-aware in this way?
1. Examine Your Triggers
Next time you find yourself in a bit of an emotional pickle, take some time, once the pickle has passed, to ask yourself what happened. What set you off? How did it feel? Were there any emotional symptoms leading up to the emotions? Are there any preventative measures you can take to stop this from happening again?
2. Don’t Judge Yourself
Understand that humans and their emotions are very complex. If you do have an embarrassing emotional moment, or if you are struggling to perform due to an emotion-based reason, be kind to yourself. There is no shame in admitting struggle or emotional outburst. This happens to us all, and to judge yourself for it is to hold yourself to an impossible standard. Try to be conscious and honest about your emotions, without judgement. Pragmatism is the way.
3. Look For Lessons
Always be learning about yourself. You are ever-changing, and you will never have yourself fully figured out. Make peace with this and make a habit of the endeavour to continue to learn about how you process and develop emotionally.
By Chris Thomson
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