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self-awareness

How Self-Awareness Can Improve Mental Health

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Sep. 9 2021, Published 4:35 a.m. ET

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked in these turbulent times, looking inward may be a positive step to regaining your balance.

Self-awareness is defined as the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires, according to dictionary.com. Have you ever thought about how your level of self-awareness impacts your mental help and what you could do to build this area?

Self-awareness not only helps you in your personal life but can be helpful in the workplace as well. According to The Myers Briggs company, self-awareness is helpful with dealing with change, coping with stress, managing, and leading others, and working with others in a team.

Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, describes self-awareness as one of the five elements that are more important than your IQ. In his groundbreaking research, he has been able to break down how your emotional intelligence can impact your success and well-being. In his book, he has identified self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills as the key components of emotional intelligence. Today we are focusing on the very first element and how so is tied to your mental health. 

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According to a Harvard Business Review article written by Dr. Tasha Eurich, there are two types of self awareness. There is internal self awareness and external self awareness. Internal self-awareness is how clearly we see our own values, passions, and impact on others. External self-awareness is how other people view us. Research shows self-awareness is truly a rare quality and only about 10-15% of people who think they are self-aware actually are.

Studies show that people do not always learn from experiences in order to make better decision-making skills. Our own experience can act as a bias for doing and being receptive to the real work intended to support your growth & effectiveness. Throughout the years we have been told to build self-awareness we need to be introspective. Well, another study referenced in this article begs to differ as it has found we in our introspection “we tend to invent answers that feel true but are often wrong.” We have no idea how this impacts our mental health in a negative way. As with anything when we spend more time on positive social engagements vs negative ones or negative introspection we have less anxiety and depression.

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How To Build Your Self Awareness

So how do we build our self-awareness and build a habit of healthy introspection? Dr. Eurich’s TEDx Talk breaks down how to cultivate productive self-insight and why we should ask “what and not why.” She calls it “reflecting on how you’re reflecting.” The “what” allows you to be objective and not come up with a story for the “why.” In her talk she shares how she was shocked to learn the more introspective people were, the more unhappy they were in multiple areas of their lives. She shares the surprising reality that “Thinking about ourselves isn’t related to knowing ourselves.” 

Try shifting your perspective today & ask yourself questions rooted in What and see how it changes your point of view. See if it stops you from going down the rabbit hole of the never-ending possibilities of why. This new thought process can help you gain a sense of fulfillment and strengthen your relationships if you let it.

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