It might be weird to think that you need SELF-awareness in order to be more kind to OTHER people, but it’s the truth!
I always say that spreading kindness on a major level and actually making a difference requires working on yourself and doing the “inner work,” as they say.
It’s one thing to give compliments haphazardly to people when you feel like it, but it’s a whole other to look inside of yourself and be like, “How do *I* need to change in order to make a better world?” (Please note that I will never tell you to NOT give compliments to people…they’re just two different things.)
Self-awareness is insanely important when it comes to spreading kindness around like confetti. And self-awareness is uncomfortable, and it may force you to enact change in your own life, and that can be hard to deal with. But I can tell you from experience that it’s totally worth it.
The change you see in what impact you can have when you are aware of your strengths, weaknesses, and actions from the inside out will be remarkable. It’s all about diving in and just starting!
But people don’t do things without cause or without feeling like it’s worth it. (I talked about that in this post.)
So I wanted to give you 4 main reasons why it’s really great to work on your self-awareness and end up being even kinder to those around you because of it. So if you’re looking at the title of this and being like, “Sierra why do I have to even worry about my self-awareness,” then keep reading!
You Can Tell Exactly When You’re NOT Being Kind
I think everyone is born with some kind of mean streak inside of them. It’s human nature. Sometimes I feel like it’s sorta like a built-in defense system. No matter what, it takes hard work to be able to practice kindness. (That’s another post for another time.)
Navigating your mean streak is really important. Knowledge is power! If you’re able to know exactly when you’re NOT being kind, you can work to avoid it or even change it so you can spread more kindness.
The problem I had for years was that any time anything even remotely bad happened to me, I took the anger or anxiety or stress I felt out on everyone else. Frankly I turned into a bitch. And it happened fast. And often. (I think my siblings would know the most about that, probably? Hi. Thanks for sticking with me. You’re the best…I love you, hahah)
It took me forever to learn that my bad mood is NOT a reason to be a jerk to other people. After I held a mirror up to my bad attitude, I could see how often I wasn’t spreading kindness. And I NEEDED to become more self-aware to do that.
I believe that it’s everyone’s job to see where they may be putting out more negative energy than positive. That doesn’t have to be a horrible experience, or make you feel like shit about yourself, either.
It’s just about being able to analytically look at yourself and say, “Where can I move forward more positively and be a better human being?” Then, you just go from there and continue living your life!
There are a ton of ways that you might not be spreading so much kindness. Like I said before: everyone has a mean streak somewhere. Yours might be more hidden than others, but it’s definitely there.
Questions to Ask Yourself for More Self-Awareness
- Do my moods have a direct effect on the way I treat others?
- Am I passive aggressive?
- Do I judge people before I have even had a chance to get to know them?
- Do I hold grudges?
- Am I someone who has an “all about me” attitude?
- How often do I put others before myself? Am I more selfish than selfless or vice versa?
- How do other people treat me? (You need to be rigorously honest with yourself about that one, but it can give you amazing insight.)
One pro tip: I HIGHLY recommend you get a journal and write about this kind of stuff. It can be super helpful to get things out of your head and onto paper, and you might find a lot of hidden answers when doing that!
You Know What Your Limits Are
I preach about this a lot, but self-care is ridiculously important when it comes to spreading kindness to others. Why?
You gotta fill your own cup to fill others’ cups, fam.
Maybe it’s talked about too often, and it’s now all mainstream and shit, but to me none of that matters. Self-care is insanely important. And self-care requires self-awareness so you’re able to understand WHAT self-care you actually need.
And sometimes self-care equates to simply knowing what your limits are. It’s one thing to spread kindness, but it’s another to burn yourself out on it. (Think saying yes to every single person who asks you for help on something without even thinking about it…I’ve been there.)
Eventually, if you never understand what your limits with other people are, you’ll get annoyed, frustrated, or even so stressed that you get super emotional. And that isn’t kind to you or to anyone else!
Self-awareness will allow you to see when you need to say no or just take a step back so you can take care of yourself better.
I’ve talked about this in a past edition of The Kindness Notes, and it’s definitely worth talking about again. You MUST take care of yourself, even if spreading kindness is important to you.
Burn-out is no joke, and you’ll get there super fast if you don’t know what your limits are.
So you need to take some time to think about what YOUR limits are. And this is different for everyone! For example, here’s what some of my limits are:
- I’m an introvert, so I need at least a couple of hours to myself every day in order to feel totally happy
- I’m not very productive after like 4pm (there are rare exceptions) so I don’t often do things for other people that require a lot of mental focus after that time
- I can only work on one big project at a time successfully. It’s easy for me to *think* that I can do more, but I really can’t, lol. I need to make sure that if I agree to help someone with a major thing, it won’t interfere with something else.
- When I get in a bad mood, I HAVE to have a few minutes to myself. I can’t push negative feelings away. Before I try to interact with others in a kind way, I have to give myself a few minutes at least to process emotions. Whether it’s just sitting quietly to myself or bawling my eyes out, I gotta do something haha
And that’s just a starting point! And I realized all of those things about myself through the use of self-awareness. It’s really powerful to do that!
It can definitely take some time (seriously, don’t expect this self-awareness to arise after one day. It’s a long-term process!) But it’s worth it.
When you know what your limits are, you won’t have to stretch yourself thin and get stressed out. You won’t feel like you’re getting taken advantage of. And you’ll be able to give out more kindness to others. That’s epic, if you ask me!
Self-Awareness Makes You Think Before You Speak
Have you ever had a moment where you say something kinda mean, rude, sassy, or even just sarcastic around your friends, and you’re like….”Woah, that just came out of me. Kinda unnecessary.”
It can seem funny, especially when you’re just hanging out with your good friends and something spills out of your mouth (trust me, I’m the queen of sass along with being the queen of kindness, so I get it, lol.)
But at the end of the day, what if that happens and you say something actually really mean? Or hurt someone’s feelings? That would suck. And no one needs that.
I think far too many people allow themselves to just say what they want to say without thinking about it. They think it makes them look cool or “they’re just honest,” when in reality, it’s actually kind of a dick move.
You need to be more aware of what you’re going to say and how it may sound. You thinking that you’re “just being honest,” for example, might actually REALLY hurt another person. And that’s not okay!
It’s obvious that right now, we live in a very all-about-me world, and we use “not caring about what other people think” as an excuse to use our words in a harsher way. I’m all for not letting other peoples’ judgements of you get in the way, but I’m not for being an asshole because of the same mindset.
The line DOES have to get drawn somewhere.
So when you are self-aware enough to be like, “Wait, how does what I’m about to say actually sound?” or, “How could my words be perceived by others?” you can turn your mind into a filter to think before you speak, and use words that are kinder.
I’m not saying you can only use words that make you sound like the saint of the earth. Like I said, I’m pretty sassy myself. I like to make jokes. I swear a lot. I’m probably sarcastic enough to be annoying. But I practice enough self-awareness to filter what words and phrases I use and when.
It’s also really important to use self-awareness to see how your own moods affect the way you speak and communicate with others. A lot of people fall victim to using their bad moods to say more negative things, and that doesn’t help anyone.
Using self-awareness to understand how your own moods affect what you say and when is incredibly powerful! That takes a lot of practice, but it is a skill WELL worth developing.
And all of this is very situation based. There are some instances when you can be way more sarcastic than others. For example: when you’re with your friends at a party, that kind of talk is way more acceptable with those people than if you’re at your customer service job and talking to strangers.
Questions to Ask Yourself
I recommend asking yourself these questions to raise self-awareness and filter your words before you just let something slip that isn’t so kind.
- Who am I with right now? (i.e. best friends, extended family, total strangers, etc)
- Do people use similar language as me? (i.e. sarcasm, swear words, proper English, etc)
- Can I pick up on how someone might be feeling? How might my words affect them at this moment?
- Am I using a bad mood of my own to use more negative language?
Using self-awareness to think before you speak does NOT mean that you should ever have to change who you are or totally shift your personality. If you find that that is what’s happening, then the situation isn’t working correctly. That could be a sign you need a change in who you spend your time with.
A Personal Example
My childhood best friends are people that absolutely hate swearing. They never use those words, and it can come across as really offensive to them. When I spend time with them at their house, I try my damned hardest to not swear. (Ironic that I said the d-word? Maybe hahah)
It takes a lot of work on my behalf, honestly, and I have to really concentrate on what I say so I don’t offend them. And I’m okay with that because I a) absolutely adore them and they mean a lot to me and b) I’m in THEIR house and I respect their wishes. So I filter.
But on the other side of it, I don’t filter out my swear words when I’m writing blog posts or on my Instagram Stories, for example. And that’s because my childhood friends aren’t the only people who watch those stories or read the posts. I know that *my people* (AKA you!) don’t care about the fact that I swear.
It’s a balance. But it all requires self-awareness. Just asking yourself simple questions two seconds before you speak can save a lot of hurt feelings and spread more kindness around to those who really need it!
It Gives You Skills for Practicing Empathy
If you haven’t caught on already from my other posts, I talk about empathy a LOT. It’s invaluable!
Empathy isn’t exactly synonymous with kindness, but they really do go hand in hand. The more you practice self-awareness, the more empathy you’ll have.
Essentially, empathy is being able to put yourself in the shoes of other people and make their emotions your own. But that takes practice. Some people are more tuned to be empathetic than others, sure, but it’s always a skill to develop. And skills take work!
The more you can see inside of yourself and be more self-aware, the more you’ll be able to understand what it means to be human in the first place. The better you’ll be able to relate to other people.
For example, let’s talk again about how I used to use my bad moods to talk negatively to other people. Once I used self-awareness to notice that about myself, it was way easier for me to see the same problem in other people.
Suddenly I could pick up on other peoples’ mood even more (I’ve always been pretty empathetic in general) and I really noticed when they used more negative words because of it.
Because of that, I can treat those people with even more kindness, and not get angry at the way they act because I’m more understanding. (Not that I let other people be an asshole to me…there’s a careful line between the two.) That’s something that would’ve been a lot harder to notice had I not practiced self-awareness.
Doing this can wield a fuck ton of different results. It depends on what you notice about yourself! Empathy doesn’t really have any caps or rules, so anything really goes. What matters is that you’re TRYING.
Self-awareness is a great form of learning, and learning about PEOPLE and how you and others FUNCTION is so so important.
Without empathy, our world will only be at risk of collapse. And using self-awareness to grow your empathy bone (that’s a weird analogy, but you get it lol) not only helps others, but yourself as well! How fantastic is that win-win situation?!
There are Your Four Reasons You Need Self-Acceptance to Be More Kind!
Self-awareness has all sorts of benefits for yourself (OBVIOUSLY) but it’s also amazing for helping other people! That’s what it’s all about, really: making the world a better place.
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