Self-awareness is the beginning of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, broadly speaking, comprises self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. All of these parts are important but they are all much harder without self-awareness. Self-awareness means you understand some basic things about yourself–what your strengths and weaknesses are, how you respond to stress, what kinds of people you get along with or not, how you learn, and so on. These all seem pretty basic; afterall, we’re all uniquely privy to what goes on in our own heads so we must know ourselves better than anyone else, right? Not necessarily. We all have blind spots, unconscious behavioral patterns, and squeamishness about our own shortcomings. These limit our self-awareness in important ways. Here are three ways to become more self-aware.
Ask for feedback.
Probably the most direct way to learn more about yourself is to ask for feedback. There are many ways to do this. You can take personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs or Big 5 and think about the results. Even better, have someone who knows you well take the tests for you and then compare your results. You can also ask people for feedback on specific things. For example, you might ask a close friend about your best and worst qualities. People are often reluctant to criticize those they care about, so make it clear you want constructive criticism. Talk to a therapist or participate in group therapy. In these environments, the whole point is to provide constructive feedback. Ask for feedback at work from both your boss and your subordinates. Keep in mind that this is intended to make you more self-aware and perhaps improve in certain areas; it’s not a final judgment on your worth as a person.
Pay attention to what or whom you hate.
We often hate in others what we hate in ourselves. This is one of those things that we all accept in principle but have time believing when we apply it to ourselves. For example, maybe you have a coworker who is always late and it sends you into a frothing rage. Everyone probably has at least one trait that, in terms of convenience and professionalism, is roughly equal to tardiness, so why does that particular behavior make you so angry? Often, what happens is that, lacking insight into other people’s motivations, we supply them with our own without even noticing. Thus, we interpret our coworker’s lack of organization as a passive-aggressive slight against us, perhaps because we–perhaps unconsciously–use the same tactic against others. Of course, there are legitimately good reasons not to like someone, but digging down into exactly why we don’t like someone can shed light on our own motivations.
Try new things.
Finally, trying new things can give you a lot of insight into your strengths and weaknesses. We typically try ourselves against whatever obstacles happen to be in our our paths. By seeking out new and various challenges, we can get a lot more information about what we like and what we’re good at. We also meet a lot more people and thereby are able to see our reflections in many different mirrors.
Recovery from addiction is in some ways a fiercely introspective process but it also requires connecting to others and being able to communicate effectively. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California, we help men better understand themselves and better connect with others as part of our holistic treatment program. Call us today at 855-202-2138 to learn more about our unique approach to addiction recovery.