Self-Awareness: A Tool To A Better Mental Health

Credits: UC Berkely

By Wasim Kakroo 

“Apne mun me dhoob ke pa ja suraage zindagi

Tu agar mera nahi bunta na bun apna tou bun” –  Iqbal (RA)

IMAGINE introducing yourself to another person without mentioning your friends or family or any other external elements. Focus exclusively on yourself, including how you feel and act, your strengths and weaknesses, and what makes you happy or upset.

This exercise is about gauging our level of self-awareness as individuals.

Understanding your own needs, desires, flaws, habits, and everything else that makes you the distinctive individual that you are is what is meant by self-awareness, also known as self-knowledge or self-introspection. The more self-aware you are, the more easily you can adjust to life’s changes. We can perceive ourselves as separate and distinct persons when we have a deeper awareness of who we are. This gives us the ability to adapt, build on our strengths, and pinpoint areas where we might need some improvements. Goal-setting begins by being more aware of oneself.

According to research, self-awareness directly correlates with both emotional intelligence and success. You can take into account your strengths, limitations, and motivators while defining goals, which helps you to set them. By choosing to pursue the possibilities that most closely match your skill set, preferences, and tendencies, it enables you to lead yourself in the right direction. It facilitates the identification of situations and persons that set off our triggers and helps us foresee our own responses. It enables us to adjust our behaviors in a way that can increase our success both at personal as well as at interpersonal level.

Knowing ourselves better permits us to adjust, create new habits, and acquire new abilities. Additionally, it enables us to be more accepting of our weaknesses so that, once we do, we may decide to come up with plans and strategies to build our resilience.

When we are self-aware, we can pay attention to our thoughts and feelings and recognise when we need to refocus our attention on finding solutions. Some other times we’ll realise there are external things we have no control over. It is possible to get better at reflecting on what is taking place and to come up with other angles from which to look at the issue.

Occasionally, we need to adjust our attitude to recognise that there are moments when we have no control over the course of events and that we need to put more emphasis on taking care of ourselves. This in no way implies that we are giving up. Instead, we can get ready for the times when we can make a solid comeback. While waiting for the right time to change, we can modify our mindset to deal with the circumstance and get ready.

When we are worn out, it is more difficult to keep up our efforts. Our brain keeps track of our energy levels and determines how much we can use and when we need to refuel. It will give priority to vital bodily processes, and when we have more energy, we can devote it to other energy-demanding activities. Thus, in order to work properly, it is crucial to maintain our energy levels.

We can learn from our experiences as we become more self-aware. The more self-aware we are, the easier it is to see what would spur change and advancement in our lives.  Additionally, we are better equipped to solicit and consider criticism as we evaluate the data from the learning viewpoint. Applying the knowledge helps us get better and eventually become masters of the talents we desire to learn. We can empathise with others and comprehend their behavior when we have a good enough awareness of ourselves.

Ways to build self-compassion:

Some techniques that can help in developing and/or increasing self-awareness include:

1. Disengage from technology: Taking time away from technology and giving ourselves the chance to spend some time alone helps us feel less stressed. To understand ourselves and to ground ourselves, we must learn to feel at ease in our own company.

2. Contemplate for a while: Writing our thoughts down in a notebook is an excellent way to process our thoughts and emotions, according to research. It includes spending time concentrating to fully comprehend the situation without self-judgment. It aids in idea clarification and to understand feelings.

3. Self help books: Reading self help books can help us widen our understanding of life and ourselves at a much better level and hence increase our self-awareness.

4. Art work: Artwork where the creator conjures up images to bring up awareness of the childish imagination can help in self-discovery and healing.

5. Practice mindfulness: Practice mindfulness by paying attention to the current moment with all of your senses—noticing noises, scents, sights, thoughts, and feelings. It entails being receptive to the experience without avoiding or resisting it.

6. Increase your understanding of emotions: The boundaries of my language mean the limits of my world, according to philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Beyond “happy” or “sad,” emotions trigger strong bodily and behavioral reactions. Your brain responds positively to verbalizing your emotions; on the other hand, being unable to do so can lead to stress. You can develop greater self awareness by expanding your emotional vocabulary every day.

7. Practice self-compassion: Exercise self-compassion by treating yourself as you would your best friend when going through a challenging period. It involves expressing kindness and understanding when dealing with challenging ideas and emotions.

It implies that we are capable of making errors like all other humans. As we increase our self-awareness, we will learn how to control our emotions and put strategies into practise to overcome obstacles in a positive way. Additionally, it enables us to retain our social network, which is essential for being healthy and feeling a sense of belonging.

  • The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196.

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