13 Sep Why Self-Awareness is so important.
“There are three “musts” that hold us back. I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.” ~ Unknown.
Self-improvement is impossible without self-awareness. Self-awareness (sometimes referred to as self-knowledge or introspection) is about understanding your own needs, desires, limitations, habits and everything else that makes you tick. In a series of surveys, organisational Psychologist Eurich found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% truly are! The reasons for this disconnect are that we naturally have blind spots and tend to operate on autopilot. We are also happier when we see ourselves in a more positive light and we have maybe as a society become more self-absorbed and less self-aware as social media has exploded in popularity.
Lack of self-awareness is a barrier to realising your potential. So are irrational or unhelpful beliefs. We all hold beliefs about ourselves and the way the world works and some of these are downright wrong. These beliefs are programmed throughout our childhoods, built on during adulthood and sit in our subconscious mind most of the time, quietly filtering through all of the information that is bombarding our brain on a daily basis. A lot of information we just bounce and don’t take in as it doesn’t fit with our filter. Some information just flows through as it reinforces and complements our existing beliefs and schema.
Some of the most common toxic beliefs programmed in our subconscious filter include:
- The Imposter Syndrome – “I feel like a fraud, everyone is going to find out I don’t deserve to be here”
- Perfectionism – “I have to do everything perfectly or I am a failure”
- Comparison to others – “Everyone else is having this fabulous life and I am a failure in comparison”
- Not being Good Enough – “Deep down, if people found out what I am really like, they wouldn’t like me anymore because I am not good enough”
These irrational beliefs serve a survival purpose. The primitive bit of our brains thinks that by holding on to these beliefs, this will keep us safe. Safe from rejection, abandonment, failure and confirmation that we actually are not good enough. These toxic beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you are terrified of being rejected and worry you aren’t worthy of love, you might avoid intimate relationships and being emotionally vulnerable. This might keep you safe from rejection, but you might end up feeling isolated and lonely.
- Is there anything in reality to support this thought as being true?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I do not hold on to this belief?
- What positive things might happen to me if I do not hold on to this thought?
- What would be an appropriate, realistic belief I could substitute for this irrational belief?
- What is keeping me from accepting this alternate belief?
Irrational beliefs are like vampires. They need to be dragged out into the light and examined critically. They tend to burst into flames when confronted with logic and reality. Imagine you are talking to a trusted best friend. What would you say to them if they expressed these beliefs to you? Now tell yourself the same things. At first, this will feel artificial. Over time, this lets your brain form new neural connections to reinforce a different way of thinking. You might need to change some behaviours too. Maybe being more assertive, taking more calculated risks or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Just because you think a thought, this doesn’t make it true.