Self-Awareness is one’s ability to identify and understand their emotions, thoughts and behavior. As a result, you can monitor yourself better and create a more purposeful life.
Becoming self-aware will:
- Give you better understanding of what you want or need
- Improve your decision-making process
- Help you to manage your emotions appropriately
- Help you to identify your triggers and reactions
- Enhance your productivity and performance
- Increase your self-esteem
- Strengthen your relationships
Self-Awareness is not a new concept. It is one of the main elements of emotional intelligence. However, nobody talks about the secret element of Self-Awareness that is willing to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the quality of being easily hurt or attacked. Vulnerability comes from the Latin word for “wound,” vulnus. Vulnerability is the state of being open to injury or appearing as if you are.
Being vulnerable is not weak, exclusive or dark. In fact, being vulnerable will help you uncover the truths that you are looking for. First of all, I want to clarify that when we talk about vulnerability, we’re usually referring to emotional vulnerability. So, vulnerability is about emotions. But being more vulnerable isn’t usually in reference to enjoyable emotions like joy or excitement. Typically, when we talk about being more emotionally vulnerable, it has to do with difficult or painful emotions like sadness, shame, anxiety, frustration, etc.
Vulnerability means acknowledging your difficult emotions. Now, it’s human nature to avoid things that hurt. And emotions are no exception. Our natural reaction to feeling bad emotionally is to immediately do something to not feel so bad:
- When you feel frustrated, you go for a run or a short walk
- When you feel sad, you remind yourself of all the good things in your life.
- When you feel anxious, you call a friend to reassure you that things will be okay.
These are normal reactions, however, we all need to understand that it’s better to acknowledge painful emotions rather than immediately avoiding them or trying to get rid of them. I’m not suggesting that everyone should go around “feeling their feelings” all day long and keep thinking that.
Acknowledging your painful emotions can be as simple as pausing for a few seconds and telling yourself: Okay, this is anger right now. It’s probably because I’m feeling frustrated with my colleague for that rude comment he made at the meeting, which bothered me and we never addressed it.
When you identify and acknowledge your emotions, you are allowing stress and anxiety to reduce, strengthen your relations and gives you a choice to respond. Being emotionally vulnerable just means taking a little bit of time to acknowledge difficult emotions before acting on them. I think of acknowledging our emotions as having two basic parts: 1) observing them, and 2) validating them.
Example of observing your emotions:
- Observing your anger means watching it without thinking about what it means or what you need to do about it.
- Observing your anxiety means simply noticing it instead of elaborating on it with worries or criticizing yourself for feeling it.
Validating your emotion just means reminding yourself that it’s okay to feel however you feel:
You might not enjoy feeling frustrated, but it’s okay that you’re feeling that way.
In other words, validating your emotions means reminding yourself that just because something feels bad doesn’t mean it is bad.
I promise you that if you get in the habit of being emotionally vulnerable in small ways throughout your days, you’ll find it much easier to do in big ways when you really need it most.