We’ve probably all heard it before: the first step towards understanding a different culture is to understand your own culture and, most importantly, yourself. So, let’s look at these 9 tips on how to become more self-aware!
1. Look at the “Johari Window” and answer these questions for yourself:
- What are aspects about me that I know about myself, but that I don’t want others to know?
- What are are aspects that I have no problem sharing with, those that everybody knows about?
Doing this is a great way to find out what you like, and what you dislike about yourself. But, perhaps more importantly, you should also do your best to find out what others know about you, but that you are not aware of. Go to people you trust and ask!
2. Make a list of ten points to answer the question: who am I?
There are no limits to what you can write here. Football-lover, Member of the Democratic Party, Husband, Daughter, Collector of Rare Whatever, High-school Teacher… anything that is important to you and defines who you are and how you see yourself!
3. Find out more about how others see you
Yes, that is part of knowing more about yourself. Have you ever heard of the term “looking-glass self”? If not, here is a short overview for you: the way other people perceive us shapes our identity to a very strong extent. The reason why this happens is that the expectations other people have of us directly influence our behaviour. When others see us as a troublemaker, then we are more likely to act in ways that is congruent with their beliefs. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that traps us in behaviour we don’t actually want to engage in. And that brings us to the next question:
4. What would you do differently if you were not under pressure from the people around you?
None of us can escape the norms and values of our society, even though we don’t always agree with them. In what ways do you feel obliged to act in certain ways, but you don’t really want to? What can you do about it? Do you think there are other cultures where such a behaviour is not encouraged and where you might feel more comfortable?
5. Define your own goals and aspirations
Now this blog is starting to sound like a self-help book, doesn’t it? Still, goals are an important point when it comes to developing self-awareness. Have you ever noticed that people who have been in an accident, or who fought a severe illness seem to know much more about their own aspirations than others? Well, that’s because they realize that up to now they haven’t lived the life they wanted to live, but that it might be over anytime. It forces them to regain the focus on their goals in life.
6. Talk to a friend, relative, or even a stranger on the street, share something about yourself you usually wouldn’t tell anyone and see how they react
Who knows, maybe you will be surprised by their thoughts! Maybe it wasn’t necessary to hide this part of yourself after all?
7. Be your own best therapist!
At this point thanks to John Swain whose book “The Use of Counselling Skills: A Guide for Therapists” has inspired me to write this post. What I learned from him is this: when you have a problem and do not know how to solve it, therapists would probably guide you through the following steps:
- Define what exactly your problem is
- Define your aims and goals in regards to the problem
- What are relevant resources and opportunities you have to solve the problem?
- Make an action plan of what to do and do it
- Evaluate what you have done
So, to wrap up the article, I leave you with a last thought: problems are part of ourselves, what type of problems we have can tell us a lot about who we are.