You’re not perfect. To be fair, though, none of us are. Perfection shouldn’t be the goal, either. The quest towards perfection is always riddled with failure while the path towards better is always lined with incremental success. In this way, perfection is more about the journey and not the destination. Perfection is an act of constant improvement. Once the destination is reached, a new or continued journey naturally begins. This is the nature of all things.
Any journey towards improvement begins with a very simple step: self-awareness. Psychology researcher Courtney Ackerman, MA, describes self-awareness as “the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection.” But why is this important, and what does it have to do with the aforementioned journey? We all have flaws and shortcomings, things about ourselves we could do better. Maybe our fuse is too short and we snap at others too quickly. Maybe we get overwhelmed too easily by stressful situations. Or perhaps, we struggle with expressing our ideas or speaking up in the right moments.
Self-awareness, like a quest for perfection, is about taking time to consider ourselves, to breathe in and slowly let that breath out. It’s about clearing our minds and reflecting on the true self–in reference to what we’re trying to achieve in the momentariness of our surroundings. Objectivity–the ability to separate ourselves from, well, ourselves–is crucial. As Ackerman notes, we need to be aware that we are not our thoughts. Events happen around us every day, and those events invite or trigger certain thoughts, which results in an emotional response: be it anxiety, anger, joy, misery, and so on. Awareness of this process means taking that breath during the event, just as outside events occur and impulsive thoughts form. Thus can we intercept our emotions with more felicitous reactions.
But self-awareness doesn’t end there. It’s a continual process as everlasting as the winding, unpaved road to perfection. Dedicating ten minutes every day, either first thing after waking up or last thing before bed, to meditate—time just for breathing to clear the clutter and reflecting on your inner-self is a regenerative necessity. This mindful awareness of ourselves allows us to better handle the events of the upcoming day. If it becomes hard to discern obstacles, weaknesses, or limitations—don’t be afraid to ask others for their perspective. Once the art of mindful self-control has been mastered, it doesn’t hurt so much to ask someone else what we can do better.
This approach to daily self-awareness is a regenerative practice that brings us closer to mastering the path to better. It allows imperfections to become the guideposts that direct our next actions and allows us to approach daily events with confidence, positivity, and a learner’s mindset. Don’t just be yourself today. Be your best self. Then, tomorrow, be your even better self.
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
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