How to Increase Self-Awareness

~3 minute read

Becoming more self-aware and adventurous is a key part of growing up. Especially early in our lives, we are constantly navigating expectations to fit in, curiosity to try new things, and pressure to figure out who we are. Athletes in particular are under a lot of stress to meet expectations in school, sports, and their social lives, so it’s normal if you feel like looking for new escapes or are testing your boundaries a bit more during this time. Staying up late, wearing different clothes, partying, and missing school assignments are all common outcomes of exploring these pressures and boundaries. Learning how to be more self-aware can help you feel more comfortable navigating these situations and avoid the damaging consequences of engaging in risky behaviors.

Self-awareness means noticing your own patterns of thought, patterns of emotion, and patterns of behavior. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get a better idea of your own self-awareness: 

Patterns of thought

How do you usually think about and talk about what happens to you? What expectations do you hold yourself to when you’re around certain people?

Ex. Do you feel more relaxed around some friends compared to others? What about them or the situation makes you feel more comfortable?

Patterns of emotion

How well do you understand your own moods and feelings? Do you reflect on and try to understand your emotions or do you immediately act on or react to them? 

Ex. When you’re feeling nervous or left out do you ask yourself what about the situation is making you feel nervous or do you push yourself to ignore your nervousness and try to join in even if you don’t feel fully comfortable?

Patterns of behavior

Do you understand why you tend to act a certain way in certain situations? Do you have an idea of why certain events upset you?

Ex. Do you find yourself acting differently at a party or in front of a group of people than you do in front of your closest friends?

When you start trying out new habits, especially if they’re subtle or behaviors that your friends do, you might not even notice exactly what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. One common example of this is speech patterns. The more your friends use “like” as a filler word, the more likely you are to say “like,” too. This can also happen with more risky behaviors, too, which is why it’s important to tune into what your mind and body are telling you. Here are a few ways to practice self-awareness:

  1. Practice mindfulness meditation: Meditation is a fantastic way to tune into your thoughts and emotions. Sitting or lying down in a comfortable position, try to focus on your breath. Notice when and where your mind drifts, and gently guide it back to your breath. This practice helps you learn more about your thoughts and emotions, and it also helps you separate yourself from your thoughts and emotions. Understanding that you are separate from your thoughts allows you to make more informed and conscious decisions.
  2. Journal: Writing down your thoughts creates a record of your thoughts, feelings, and actions that you can look back on to recognize patterns or to better understand why you might be feeling a certain way. Some people find journaling a helpful way to recognize the thoughts and feelings that they usually keep quiet. If you’re not sure where to start, try journaling responses to some of the patterns of thought, patterns of behavior, patterns of emotion questions above. 
  3. Clarify your values: Write down a list of 5 or 10 things that are most important to you now and in five years from now. Then try writing down actions, hobbies, or relationships that align with those values. Getting a better understanding of your short and long-term goals can help you align your actions with your values.

Our environments are constantly influencing us and pushing us to try new things. Becoming more self aware can help you take agency over your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and ensure that you’re acting in line with your values.

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