Building self-awareness and why it matters.
Laying on the couch in my dark living room at college, I was watching a random video the YouTube algorithm decided it was time for me to see, feeling completely understood.
The video was The philosophy of Stoicism — Massimo Pigliucci. Before then, I had never really heard about Stoicism. As I started to dive into it, I felt like much of it was describing things about me I had never been able to put words to.
Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that believes one’s perception is the basis of their knowledge. This applies in all areas of life. As a stoic, whether you are experiencing a painful or exhilarating situation, the goal is to not let your emotions overwhelm you.
My favorite quote to sum up Stoicism was actually said in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”:
“There is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Why did it feel so good to hear this?
Why did I feel “understood”?
I am a person that stays pretty “even-keel”. At times, my teammates would describe me as a robot. When they would yell “LET”S GO!”, showing what others call “passion”, I was ready to move on to the next play.
When other people get super excited, even giddy about something, I feel like I’m trying to go above and beyond to make them see that I’m excited.
I still feel all the emotions, but I display them in different ways that I’m still figuring out.
Why does it matter to feel understood?
When you start to understand your tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, you can direct yourself with much more clarity. It feels like you are putting together some master puzzle.
Self-awareness is like a cheat code in life. When you deeply understand yourself, it becomes much easier to improve.
Life will always be an unpredictable winding road, but you will be able to navigate it with a deeper understanding if you are self-aware.
This is how I visualize the difference between having self-awareness and not:
When having no self-awareness, it feels like you are lost in a dense fog. You know there are paths you could take, but you can’t even see them. With self-awareness, on the other hand, you see all the paths laid out in front of you. It allows you can make more informed decisions on which path to go down… even if it’s wrong! Without self-awareness, you are lost in a dense fog. You can barely see the paths altogether.
Can I practice self-awareness?
100%. There are 3 things I do to improve my self-awareness.
- “Take our Personality Test and get a ‘freakishly accurate’ description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.”
- In my experience, it is pretty freakishly accurate. As I was reading my description, I felt like they were completely mapping me out. I felt like they were going to give me all the answers… which they obviously can’t… but it did give me tons of clarity.
- Write (or “journal”)
- I personally don’t like the term journaling. My experience with traditional journaling has never felt very genuine. When I am given some kind of prompt to write “what I did that day” or “what I’m thankful for” I lose interest fast.
- That’s why I say “write”. Writing implies that you choose your subjects. Make a note of ANYTHING you find interesting — anything you want to dive deeper into. Then, make a time every week when you will gather your thoughts and explore them in writing.
- That’s a big part of what I’m doing here. Publishing helps hold me accountable to my writing, so consider making your own blog/newsletter.
- Ask people close to you
- Ask people 2 questions: (1) What am I good at? and (2) What do I enjoy doing?
- The answers to these questions are usually right in front of you. Sometimes you feel like you are inside a bottle trying to read the label. Let someone close to you remind you. In their experience, there are probably a few things you are naturally drawn towards that you have put on the back-burner.
There is a special feeling you experience when you are understood. It feels like you are not alone in the world. It feels like there is a deeper connection between us and the world. When something moves you toward this feeling, you also improve your own self-awareness.
I challenge you to dive straight into that feeling next time it happens. For example, if you watch a video on Stoicism or any other kind of video for that matter, and it feels like they are describing you to a T, write it down and DIVE DEEPER.
We are all searching for some sense of understanding. Understanding the world, understanding the people around us, and most importantly, understanding ourselves.
Your perception IS your reality. Become the master of your perception.
This post was created with Typeshare