It’s not easy to uncover our blind spots and gain real self-awareness. One way is to carefully listen to yourself, and then write down your self-talk, using the exact words you use. Do this several times over the course of a week, and you’ll uncover a lot about how you think and perceive your world.
I found this suggestion reading the book Leadership Step by Step: Becoming the Person Others Follow, by Joshua Spodek (Amazon Digital Services, 2017). The exercise is even more valuable when we reflect and learn from it. So after writing down what you say, ask yourself:
- What did you notice most?
- Did you notice any trends?
- How hard was it to be non-judgmental?
If you’re like most people, you might be surprised at the amount of negativity and critical content of your words. But here’s what’s important to know: you aren’t necessarily a negative or critical person. Everyone is negative and judgmental; that’s the way the human brain works.
Knowing how your mind-chatter works enables you to influence it. It explains much about how we perceive and react to the world. It also influences how others perceive and react to us.
This self-awareness exercise helps us manage ourselves emotionally. It also enables us to manage others’ perceptions of us. Imagine how much easier it is to acknowledge if we misperceive and misjudge situations when armed with enhanced self-awareness.
The more we understand our own minds, the more easily we can understand others’. This enables us to feel more empathy and compassion for others. It’s the reason why self-awareness is so valuable. We can’t connect with others well without self-knowledge and acceptance.