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Heather Rooke – Founder of Mind, Body, SELF

From a philosophical point of view can we ever truly be fully self-aware when we are the sum of our life’s experiences and influenced by the perceptions of so many around us? That thought could take a while to ponder, so for now, I will stick to more practical aspects of self-awareness: how we can cultivate it and why I believe it is an essential element in one’s personal and professional success.

What is Self-Awareness?

I believe that Self-Awareness is far more than just the reflection that we may see in our mirror or listening to what we say. This view of ourself and the words that we hear ourselves say are observed with the biases that we have built over many years that in turn have become our perspective.

Self-Awareness is deeper than this and therefore needs a little excavating. By doing so we can consciously go beyond the automated thoughts and narrative that we have developed over the years, which have been influenced by the external world around us.

For me self-awareness is open curiosity. Being able to explore our thoughts, emotions and beliefs with wonder and intrigue: Why? Why am I thinking this? Why do I believe that? What evidence do I have? Is it a true reflection? From this point we can then start to experiment with challenging and reframing our perspective, as well as beginning to change our own narrative.

So, in this context, self-awareness is the ability to recognise and understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. Like a compass, self-awareness can guide us and empower us to navigate our journey with clarity and purpose.

On the flip side, without self-awareness, we can often feel unanchored and at the mercy of external circumstances and experiences. This is why cultivating self-awareness is a transformative journey that empowers individuals to unlock their full potential and to live life with purpose, confidence and clarity.

The Impact of Self-Awareness in Various Contexts

The impact of self-awareness extends beyond the individual and has far-reaching implications in various aspects of life, including:

  • Personal Well-being: Individuals who practice developing their self awareness are better equipped to manage stress, regulate their emotions, and cultivate resilience in the face of adversity. By understanding their own needs and limitations, they can make informed choices that promote their physical, emotional, and mental well-being
  • Interpersonal Relationships: Self-awareness enhances our ability to understand and empathise with others, fostering deeper connections and more meaningful relationships. By recognising our own biases and communication styles, we can navigate conflicts and misunderstandings with grace and compassion.
  • Workplace Dynamics: In the professional realm, self-awareness is a critical skill for effective leadership, communication, and collaboration. Leaders who possess self-awareness are better equipped to understand their own strengths and limitations, as well as those of others around them. This enables them to foster a culture of trust, openness, and accountability within their organisations, leading to greater innovation and productivity.

My Journey with Self-Awareness

I have faced my own battles with a lack of sense of self, and low self-esteem, finding myself trapped in a cycle of victimhood, both in the workplace and in personal relationships. In my corporate career, I often felt powerless and overwhelmed by the demands of my high-stress environment. Similarly, in my personal life, I struggled to assert myself and set boundaries, leading to feelings of resentment and frustration.

It was through the practice of self-awareness that I was able to break free from the chains of victimhood and reclaim my power. By exploring my thoughts, emotions, and underlying narratives, I gained insight into the patterns that were holding me back. I realised that my feelings of victimhood were rooted in my own beliefs and perceptions, rather than external circumstances.

Through mindfulness practices, journaling and seeking feedback from trusted mentors and peers, I have been able to cultivate a deeper understanding of myself and my place in the world. As my self-awareness has grown, so too has my sense of empowerment and fulfilment. In the workplace, I gained confidence in my abilities as a leader and communicator, learning to navigate challenging situations with grace and poise. In my personal relationships, I have been able to foster deeper connections through it.

Ultimately, it is my commitment to self-awareness that paves the way for my continued personal and professional success. By taking ownership of my thoughts, emotions, and actions, I transformed my experience into one of empowerment; my struggles into strengths and my challenges into opportunities for growth.

Socrates had a point when he said, ‘Know thyself.’ It’s like having a roadmap for life. Knowing who you are, what makes you tick, your strengths, weaknesses, all of it – that’s self-awareness. It’s like shining a light on yourself. When you understand yourself better, you make better choices, handle things more smoothly, and connect with others more authentically.

But how do we actually cultivate self-awareness? It’s a question many of us ask ourselves, and rightfully so. How do we shine that light on ourselves, as Socrates advised? How do we navigate the complexities of our inner world and emerge more self-aware on the other side?

Practical Strategies for Cultivating Self-Awareness.

Self-awareness can be honed and developed through intentional practice and reflection. Here are some practical strategies to deepen your self-awareness:

1. Mindfulness Practices: Mindfulness involves bringing our full attention to the present moment, without judgment or attachment. Engaging in mindfulness meditation, mindful breathing exercises, or simply practicing present-moment awareness throughout the day can help cultivate greater self-awareness and presence.

2. Journaling and Reflection: Keeping a journal provides a space for introspection and self-expression. By regularly reflecting on our thoughts, emotions, and experiences, we can gain insight into our patterns, triggers, and areas for growth. Journaling allows us to track our progress on our journey of self-awareness and identify areas where we may need to course-correct.

3. Seeking Feedback: Feedback from others can offer valuable insights into our blind spots and areas for improvement. Whether from trusted friends, mentors, or colleagues, soliciting feedback allows us to gain a more objective perspective on our strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. It also provides an opportunity for self-reflection and continuous learning.

As you cultivate self-awareness, you will find yourself more equipped to manage stress, build meaningful relationships, and excel in your professional life. Remember, self-awareness is not a destination but an ongoing journey. Embrace it with curiosity and compassion, and you will unlock your full potential, leading a life of purpose, confidence, and fulfilment. Your journey to self-awareness begins now – take the first step today and discover the profound impact it can have on your life.