For our 3rd post in the Monday Mirror series, I’d like to share what self-awareness is, why it’s important, and how to cultivate it.
In the information age, there’s no shortage of trendy buzz-words that get thrown around without much substance online. Self-awareness is one of those buzz-words that has been over-simplified and made socially “sexy”.
So, What is Self-Awareness? And, at a deeper level, why is it important to maintaining mental health?
What Self-Awarness Is and Isn’t
To start, let’s talk a little bit about what self-awareness isn’t. Self-awareness isn;’t to be confused with being self absorbed or selfish. It’s quite the opposite, actually.
Self-awareness is a expression of self-love and that self-love should overflow into every other area of our lives and relationships.
This self-awareness built on self-love isn’t merely semantic, because it’s impossible to share what we don’t have. If we are to truly love others, we must first love ourselves.
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”-Jesus of Nazareth
It’s impossible to cultivate self-awareness without first prioritizing self-care and love. In many ways, these words/concepts are virtually synonymous.
Self-care and self-love are vital to maintaining mental health and avoiding mental illness.
Here’s my definition of what self-awareness is…
Self-awareness is the act of being conscious of our internal states and how they affect our behavior and the way we interact with the world.
I’ve also found this definition from Harvard Business Review to be helpful.
The 2 Types of Self-awareness
The first type of self-awareness is a focus or awareness on our internal values, desires, and aspirations that drive the way we show up in the world.
This internal self-awareness require us to be conscious of our thoughts, feelings, mood, and how we motivate ourselves to act on our deepest held values, beliefs, and goals.
Understanding the way our internal states affect our behavior is vital to practicing self-awareness, because our actions will always follow our beliefs.
Cultivating this brand of self-awareness plays a large role in finding emotional stability and maintaining mental health. Our internal self-awareness increases emotional intelligence and greatly minimizes mental illness.
The second type of self-awareness involves being conscientious about the way we interact with others and the environment. This is referred to as social or environmental self-awareness.
Naturally, the quality of the relationships we cultivate and the environments we live and work in are a large contributing factor in maintaining our mental health. Building/maintaining strong personal and professional support networks is highly important.
Having meaningful relationships and making positive professional contributions – driven by a deep sense of purpose greatly improves the quality of our lives.
Like a ripple effect, the internal deposits we make to cultivate a deeper self-awareness then works its way out into every other area of our lives. On a deep and profound level, we then become connecting to nature.
The fruit of this social/environmental self-awareness is deep empathy and compassion for others that expresses itself in greater measures of social responsibility. We take responsibility for our homes and communities.
Everything is connected. As above, so below; as within, so without.
For more research and infomation on these two types of self-awareness, review this article by HBR. It’s really helpful/enlightening!
Let me know in the comments below what resources you use to help cultivate self-awareness. If you enjoy this type of content, I share a Monday Mirror post every monday to help increase self-awareness. Make sure to subscribe/follow to receive new content directly to your inbox.
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More From This Series…
Monday Mirror #1: Personal Reflections that Increase Self-Awareness
Monday Mirror #2: Personal Reflections that Increase Self-Awareness
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