Updated: May 16, 2019
Self-awareness is an important component of emotional intelligence (Goleman,2012). To know the values that drive one’s positions in an argument and to know one’s triggers and the types of unconscious responses they produce, are critical to constructive interpersonal communication. Many authors including Siegel (2004), have done incredible work on how to develop self-awareness. They suggest techniques such as journaling and meditation which offer the opportunity to revisit unconscious patterns of thinking or behaving for a chance to alter old models. However, the challenge with self-awareness is that while everyone around you knows and talks about how much you need it, you remain the only one unaware of your deficiency. So how can you tell that you might be lacking self-awareness?
Are you always right?
When one is lacking self-awareness, the tendency is to act in a way that communicates that you have it all figured out; that there is no way under the sun you could learn anything new on a particular topic from a certain demographic group. Consequently, when discussing a topic, you do not necessarily listen to understand but rather to form counter arguments.
Do all your closest friends share the same views in politics, religion and social issues?
You’ve heard it said “tell me who you associate with, and i will tell you who you are”. I suggest, that the people we fail to associate with, or care to know, become targets of our biases. Because they are absent from our circles, we never get to develop new and better ways to respond to the negative emotions they trigger in us. They quickly get objectified and off goes the accountability piece when it comes to respectful public discourse.
Is there at least one person in your life who calls you out on anything?
Whether formally or informally, we all should have a mentor. Someone who inspires us because he or she embodies the sort of person we aspire to be. Some people find it in a religious figure, others, in a parental, political or athletic figure. Such figures hold us accountable to the highest standard of human integrity, intelligence, compassion, courage and integrity. Are you your own memtor?