Self-awareness is the gift of insight. It has been called the key skill for growth, health, and happiness. But, it has to have the right focus. If you allow your self-awareness to plague you with limiting or crushing thoughts and feelings, it can lead to make poor decisions.

Self-awareness allows you to track your emotions, so that, at any a moment in time, can you identify what you’re feeling and take appropriate action.

This is important, because your feelings can lead you astray. Think of anger or passion, for example.

But not all feelings are about the high-drama that these two emotions can lead to. Many of our inner responses are far more subtle – uncertainty and under-confidence for example*.  They can have unintended consequences because, when you feel uncomfortable, for whatever reason, you can come across to others in ways you never intended, and which you wouldn’t wish for.

How we come across to others

Putting up a front to compensate for feeling under-confident can result in you seeming overbearing or arrogant; Speaking up to cover shyness or uncertainty can mean you babble, are loud, or that you talk too much.

A first step to correct this is to develop insight about yourself. Self-awareness is a positive trait in that it enables you to reflect on your thoughts and behaviour, both while they are happening and also afterwards.

Feelings are part of the equation above as well, but they shouldn’t dominate. Feelings that are allowed to rule the roost are a nuisance, with side-effects like impulsivity, guilt, and anxiety.

Doing the window-dressing

A simple solution to coping well when entering unfamiliar situations where you might feel uncomfortable or under-confident is to be nice. If you aim consciously towards politeness and respect for others, you’ll be tasking yourself in a way that allows no time or mental space for doubt and uncertainty.

I call this ‘doing the window-dressing’. Others call it ‘acting as-if’.

There’s more….

I’ve just remembered Amy Cuddy’s TED talk Fake It Til You Make It. I’ve posted this before, and its worth remembering.

See also: Emotional Intelligence; what It Is, why you need it, and how to get it.

* Strictly speaking these are not emotions, but I’m talking here about emotional responses