In last month’s article, we discussed how dangerous and unfulfilling it can be to follow the scripts that society has written for us. Recognising this, and acting to address it, is often the start of an individual’s journey of personal development. The further down the road we go on this journey, the more we learn about ourselves and what makes us who we are. This increased ‘self-awareness’ can be a valuable asset in our personal and professional lives. If you Google the term ‘self-awareness’ you will find hundreds of interpretations of what it means to people, but the description that struck me most was from a Client responding to my question ‘What does happiness and success mean to you?’. The answer was simple…‘to feel comfortable in my own skin’.
People seek counselling for a number of reasons, but from my experience the common denominator is ‘change’:
- Clients often have change forced upon them through loss or grief.
- Clients sometimes don’t want to change, but are seeking to find a way to cope in their current existence.
- But more often than not, people are seeking change. A lot of people come to the therapy room because they are not comfortable in their own skin and want to find out why. It is this area where the counselling experience can facilitate enormous growth in self-awareness.
The great news is that self-awareness can be learned. Working with clients to reflect and monitor themselves can lead to people being more flexible, more creative and more self-reliant. Of course, this only works if the person is willing to explore introspectively, and ask themselves questions that they would not typically ask. What is it about this situation that makes me angry? Why are my feelings hurt by what he/she has just said? Why is my confidence low at work when a particular type of person enters the room? By becoming more self-aware you see how your thoughts and feelings are influencing the way you act. This awareness in turn allows you to control your responses or make changes accordingly.
Every day people make decisions based on their value system, and the privileges and biases that they inherited or adopted. Often at work or at home people make decisions that are heavily influenced by their unconscious biases. It is second nature to them, and as a result they do it without even being aware of it. This lack of self-awareness is humorously demonstrated in this video by Carlsberg and the Bikies!:
What would you have done in this situation!? More importantly, why would you have done it?
Taking the courageous step to focus on personal development is to be congratulated and is a fantastic gift to give to yourself. Watching our own thoughts and feelings, being alert to our privileges and biases, and being willing to work on them in counselling increases the ability to lead, to trust and to relate to those around you. On a personal level we can build stronger relationships, make better decisions and are happier people. At work we become better bosses, better employees, and better team-mates.
There is nothing to lose in getting to know ourselves better.
The article is written by Noel, Low Cost Counsellor at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.