Did you know self-awareness is the key to changing your life? But many of us who grew up in abusive or neglectful homes lack this basic component of a satisfying life.
That’s because our parents never taught us how to look at ourselves. They forced us to keep our focus on them and others instead.
In order to survive, we needed to suppress our own needs and cater to others’. This led us to disconnect from what we wanted or needed.In order to survive, we needed to suppress our own needs and cater to others'. This led us to disconnect from what we wanted or needed. Click To Tweet
And, due to a lack of guidance, we have a poor understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. We may also have no idea what we value or what’s important to us.
That’s because our parents never encouraged us to explore our desires. They may not have praised us when we did well which leaves us scratching our heads as to what we’re good at.
We may have been exposed to more negative attention. That meant we only heard from our parents when we did something wrong.
And they expected us to understand things they’d never taught us. My father constantly berated me for not knowing how to do things no one taught me how to do.
Children need praise and guidance
Children need praise, guidance, and encouragement in order to thrive. To develop a healthy sense of self-awareness, we need to know our needs are handled by the adults around us.Children need praise, guidance, and encouragement in order to thrive. Click To Tweet
If we sense that we have to take care of those needs ourselves, we become hypervigilant. In survival mode, we are not free to explore our heart’s desires.
We desperately try to read other people in an effort to keep ourselves alive. That is what the survival brain thinks, anyway.
As children, we intuited correctly that we depended on our parents for survival. We could not put a roof over our own heads or food in the fridge.
This led us to minimize our needs and make sure to keep them happy so they wouldn’t reject us. As adults, we have been conditioned to abandon our own needs and focus on pleasing others.
This external focus means we lack the self-awareness necessary for a fulfilling life. If you lack boundaries because you fear saying no to people, you probably feel empty inside.
How self-awareness cures emptiness
The cure for such emptiness is beginning the journey back to yourself. That means taking the time to discover your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses, and your values.
1. Discover likes and dislikes
Make a list of things you like or enjoy doing. You could begin with the five senses: what smells, sights, sounds, and tastes do you like and what feels good to you?
Then look at your life and ask yourself how much of these are in it. Chances are, you may do more of what you don’t like in an effort to please others.
You will never have the life you want unless you increase your self-awareness. You need to know what you like so you can incorporate more of it in your life.
2. Discover your strengths
Then, find out what you’re good at, your strengths. You may want to ask trusted friends or associates for their input.
Is your work focused on these strengths and interests? If not, you may want to start making decisions that move you in the direction of your strengths and preferences.
3. Make a values list
Finally, what are your values? Do you know what you stand for and what’s important to you? Or do you tend to go with the flow and let other people decide for you?
A first step in getting to know your core values can come in the form of a simple assessment. Knowing your values is key to increasing self-awareness.
Take this or any other free online values assessment to help determine yours.