I’ve learned that if you are on a path towards self-development, you should first develop your self-awareness before anything else.
Self-awareness: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
It’s something that you will hone over time, and the only tool you need is yourself. No books, no youtube tutorials, nothing. For the majority of my life, I had lived without being really self-aware. I feel stupid admitting to it, but it’s true. I may have believed that I was, but the level of self-awareness that I had was not as high as it is now. The first time that it was pointed out to me blatantly was when a friend that I had just met at University told me point-blank, “You don’t know what you want Salena.” By the way, this was immediately after I told him that I wanted to learn Japanese, a language that I thought I had serious interest in at that time.
I remember that his comment deeply offended me, angered me, and I racked my brain for a response to prove him wrong. The problem was, I couldn’t.
How embarrassing…Someone who I had just met not too long ago saw me more clearly than I did and I couldn’t even defend my own opinions?
I considered never meeting this friend again. I also considered taking a Japanese course just to prove him wrong – thankfully I never did any of those things. Instead, I started to slow down and listen to myself more so that something like that would never happen to me again.
That Summer, I felt myself change as I started to really pay attention to my intentions and actions for the first time. It was a refreshing perspective. Being self-aware is like stepping outside of your own body to study your feelings and reactions. It’s like as if you are a scientist, analyzing your own brain.
After I heightened my self-awareness, it naturally helped me various ways: in controlling my emotions (anger in particular), and also in creating more meaningful relationships, with the right people.