(My first attempt at a topic like this, do forgive me if some of them sound absurd or too corny)
I have finished reading Steve Job’s biography by Walter Isaacson and it is indeed very interesting to know Job’s history before he came up with Apple and the iPhone we now know today. And his degree of self-awareness is something that I am impressed with. I feel that we all do have a form of self-awareness but the control we have over our thoughts and our own will varies with each person. To me, I felt that my sense of self-awareness have deteriorated ever since secondary school. My life in Singapore has been drowned with too many activities that my mental capacity can’t handle. I was and possibly still am under the spell to participate in activities that contribute to my CV – a product that has been of the Singaporean education. As a result, life has been just a rushed-through storybook with little reflection and meditation.
And now I am trying to change this, to try every little effort to break out of this cycle. Self-awareness essentially means understanding yourself, in the aspects of your strengths, weaknesses, how you work, how you are motivated etc. There are many tests that help you test for these, but I believe self-realisation is the best method to internalise and change ourselves. With that, we are able to move ourselves according to our own will, and most importantly differentiate ourselves amongst others – by being ourselves.
And there are a few points which I think that we can try to do to understand ourselves, and hopefully to motivate to be more of ourselves.
- Be honest with yourself – The most important thing we first need to do is to be honest with ourselves. It is very easy for us, humans to live in self-denial. We need to dig it up, confirm our true feelings and move on if possible.
- Derive the first fundamentals of our actions and thoughts – What I mean is to ask yourself why for your actions and what goes through your brain. Asking once usually is not enough, you may need to apply the 5 Whys Method in order to find our your purpose in life or the long-term goal in a certain task. I sometimes converse to myself, a remnant from my childhood, and it helps to gather some of my questions and thoughts on certain issues. It will help answer some of your doubts and confirm some of your convictions.
- Reflection – Learning is fundamental to the human brain and if you do not make the effort to digest what you have experienced through a day, it is difficult to ensure that you have truly learnt something. Make an effort to reflect on what happened and what you have learnt on a daily basis, and it will help you remember lessons more clearly and energize your brain to think more critically. Set some time for introspection on a daily basis.
- Take the path less travelled – Make a conscious effort to do something that you wouldn’t normally do, like travel alone. It may put you in unexpected circumstances since you will be acting differently from the crowd. Do not give into social pressure and have faith in what you do.
- Read , read and read – Reading opens up your horizons. Knowing ourself is one thing, but reading other peoples’ thoughts can help understand other people and through that, ourself. Find out why others think in a certain way and ask yourself questions on how you are different or similar.
- Indulge in exercise and sports – Exercising has been proven to help you think better. It increases your productivity levels while keeping yourself healthy and happy. Without it, I always feel lazy and unmotivated. It’ll help maintain optimal levels of brain activity for self-awareness and reflection.
- Write and journal your thoughts – This is what I learnt from my HASS lessons in school. Writing all the little reflections down cement your thoughts rather than having a lot of them twisting and turning in our brain. It helps to strengthen our viewpoints and make summaries and conclusions from our reflections. Go write a blog to reflect on daily findings and interesting experience. You will be able to see who you are once you start tracking back on the posts.
- Grit and discipline – What is tantamount to all these is to have perseverance and motivation to align yourself with the intention to improve and learn. It can be difficult and there will be times when you feel lazy especially after a stressful project or a late night sleep. However, ensure you get back to the momentum and you will find yourself having the regular habit to reflect and internalize experiences.
Learning to be self-aware is a never ending process of getting feedback, internalising these and then transforming them to actionable points. It is somehow equivalent to creating a startup. It all begins in the mind, and as a result can lead to greater emotional intelligence and open-mindedness. Hopefully, these few points can be useful to you like how it is to me.