If you are on a path toward self-improvement or on a journey to find yourself, then you have likely come across an unending stream of buzzwords. You may have chased many of them down rabbit trails and became lost in the forest.
Buzzwords are not necessarily bad. They are often used in office environments as shorthand for complex concepts. They break down those concepts into a simple word or phrase that is easily understood. Using buzzwords can help you engage with coworkers, customers, and colleagues in line with the norms and expectations of your organization. Here are a few common business buzzwords we use in conversations and writings: “return on investment,” “deep dive,” “impact,” “sustainability,” “logistics,” “ballpark,” and “content is king”.
Self-renewal, self-awareness, and introspection, however, are not buzzwords. They are interconnected. They are bridges among each other. When you understand what each of them means individually, it's easy to understand why that is.
Introspection is assessing your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. It's something you apply to the thoughts you are currently having. Introspection can help you bring about necessary changes in how you behave, think, and move through the world. In psychology, it's a formalized approach, but in practice, it's something you can do anywhere if you do it mindfully.
A way to use introspection is to consciously reflect on your internal psychological processes. When you reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and memories and examine their meaning you are engaged in introspection. In this way, introspection helps improve your levels of self-awareness which then will help you improve your resilience and lower stress levels.
Since its introduction to the psychology world, introspection has evolved to tie into self-realization. This process helps you modify your behaviors. It draws a line around and between all of the connections between emotions and behaviors that may not be serving you.
Some ways to improve the way you conduct an introspection could be:
1. Self-Monitoring. This involves simply noticing what is going on within yourself using mindful meditation, where you observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment. You simply let them pass through your mind like floating clouds. If you want to stop along the way and meditate on one of the thoughts you begin to gain insight into yourself. Here you are observing, learning, and gaining insights about the way you act and behave.
2. Asking Yourself Open-Ended Questions. Open-ended questions can help you better understand your attitudes, beliefs, desires, evaluations, intentions, emotions, and sensory experiences. Ask open-ended questions like,
3. Taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses. Much of this exercise is looking at your skill sets, how you learn, and your intellectual self. However, don’t forget your emotions in the process, for instance, if upon reflection you notice you get anxious before giving a presentation you might consider this not to be healthy and let your anxiety be heightened. Your anxiety begins to overtake you and in the process, you falter giving all kinds of messages that things are just not right. This becomes an emotional weakness for you and you need to address it in a healthier way.
Self-awareness hypothesizes that people either focus on their internal or external environment at a given moment. If you're staring at yourself in the mirror, you are more likely to be aware of what is directly in front of you. It can fall into two different categories.
The first is analyzing your experiences and behaviors to understand the world around you. The second is the same level of analysis but putting it in a third-person perspective by comparing yourself to societal standards. In either category, you are changing your behavior based on a set of standards.
You can strengthen self-awareness by engaging in the following five activities:
1. Walking in the quiet of nature. Nature not only has a rejuvenating effect on you, but also nudges you to examine something that is happening in your life whether it be something to do with your work, relationships, or family.
2. Practicing mindfulness. Here you are consciously directing your thoughts inward to become more aware of what is happening with your thoughts and beliefs as they trigger your emotions. Mindfulness includes focusing your attention on whatever it is you are doing and involves the practice of meditation or the quieting of the mind.
3. Listening deeply to others. When we focus on another person it is a way to downgrade our self-destructive thinking. Dr. Tchiki Davis points out, “By being open to someone else, we can learn to listen objectively, even lovingly, to what that person wants or needs to share. This, in turn, helps each of us how to listen to our own inner dialogues and opinions objectively and lovingly as well.”
4. Journaling is an excellent way to become greater self-aware. I have often commented on the advantages of journaling as a method of becoming more self-aware. With journaling you are telling your story in your own words and they can reveal what’s critical for you. You can find more about journaling here.
5. Obtaining feedback from others. Finding an objective listener, one who can give you constructive criticism and help you grow as a person is another way of strengthening your self-awareness. Here you need to be open to what people are saying to you and then make a mental note to examine it later. When you reflect on what the other person has said you may find the criticism to be inaccurate and more about a projection of the other person’s struggles. In that case, don’t respond defensively but try to get to the underlying issue so that you can keep a healthy relationship.
Self-renewal is the act of rebirth. It is a change in priorities, an opportunity to renew and regroup. It's something you have to do mindfully as often as possible. You are constantly changing as a person and with every change in who you are, there are changes in what you want, need, and desire.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells the story about not putting new wine in old wineskins because both the wine and wineskins will be ruined. In many ways, this is a renewal story. It is difficult to renew ourselves unless we shed the old skin, so to speak, and put on new skin. And, as we do we go deeper within ourselves (introspection) we begin to find our true selves (become more aware). Self-renewal is the act of keeping up with the changes that take place as we put on new skin.
To solidify this here are 5 concrete things you can do to put on new skin.
1. Clarify your gifts. Focus on your natural gifts and break out from the dam you have of holding them back.
2. Sharpen your learning. Pay attention to learning at a deeper level, but don’t forget to spend time learning just for fun. One of my mentors found that taking a camera course was just what he needed to sharpen his awareness on his walks. Another spends time in a sports activity just for fun and companionship.
3. Focus on spending time with just you. Take some time out to rejuvenate in nature and be in the moment with it. While there say a silent prayer of thanksgiving. You don’t have to be religious to do this. Just revel and be thankful for what is in front of you.
4. Take a personal retreat. A retreat allows you to unplug from your daily grind and connect with like-minded people. Make this an annual practice.
5. Become a volunteer or a mentor. Community organizations are always looking for positive and impactful people. Find one that fits your values and beliefs. Mentor youth or someone who can benefit from your experience and wisdom. Search for mentoring groups within your community or place of work.
Introspection feeds self-awareness, and then the two combined join forces to trigger self-renewal. None of them work individually, and if you try to focus on one without addressing the others, you won't reach the state of joy or fulfillment you are looking for.
As you begin the journey, you need to focus on each of these individually, but you have to do so by taking little steps and limiting yourself to just three things.
So, if you plan to focus on introspection, self-awareness, and renewal, you should choose one action point under each category I mentioned above. Just be sure to choose an action for each that feeds into the others.
For example, if you are struggling with a bad habit like over-eating, smoking, or even getting lost in content, then undergoing a period of introspection will help you uncover everything you can about that bad habit thus bringing about a state of self-awareness. Knowing is half the battle so, once you have the awareness of the issue and an idea of the root causes, you can take the steps to address those issues and renew yourself by adopting a new, healthier means of coping.
If you are struggling and want help along your journey, you may want to seek out the advice of a professional, coach, or mentor. For instance, if you are dealing with a substance abuse issue, then several resources can help you such as Alcohol Anonymous, a social worker, a true friend who has your interest at heart, or a psychologist. These resources will be able to support you as you address the underlying symptoms and coping mechanisms to navigate the healing process.
As always stay safe, keep healthy, and continue becoming the best version of yourself. Thank you for reading,
Jennifer Herrity, 30 Common Business Buzzwords, and Their Definitions.
Kendra Cherry, What is Introspection?
Dr. Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. What Is Self-Awareness, and How Do You Get it,
Dr. Abogao Bremmer, M.D. 5 Ways to Regroup, Reprioritize, and Renew Yourself”
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