There is a lot of pressure on us to be something we’re not. While striving for goals is good, many of the pressures imposed on us by others and ourselves push us towards an ideal that is far from our authentic selves
The problem with these goals set by outside pressures instead of your own self-awareness is that they are not based on who you are. Trying to constantly fake a lifestyle or meet goals that do not reflect your personality is constant work that can cause you to feel stressed and anxious, and make you more susceptible to setbacks that threaten your self esteem.
How to Embrace Self-Awareness to Minimize Anxiety
Pressures at work may push you towards a career and leadership that doesn’t fit your needs. Social media can push you to pursue a lifestyle that does not match who you are. Family and friends may have expectations for you based on their own preferences. You may have even set yourself a goal based on what you think you should want, rather than what would truly make you happy.
Think about the differences between striving for these goals versus working at something you enjoy. The latter feels natural, maybe even easy. The former can make you feel constantly on edge, dreading setbacks and yet more at risk for them.
This ongoing stress is a key cause of anxiety and low self-esteem. But it all stems from trying to be someone that you are not, which you can correct when you:
- Practice Self-Awareness – Self-awareness is knowing what you think and feel, what motivates you, and what brings you joy. One way to foster more self-awareness in yourself is to ask yourself what you are thinking and feeling in a moment, and what you would like to do with that knowledge.
- Accept Yourself – Some of the facts you learn about yourself through self-awareness may be embarrassing or uncomfortable. They will become less so when you learn to accept them as simple facts of what makes you different.
- Be Aware of Contradictions – Other facets of your personality and thoughts may be contradictory. Self-awareness enables you to see the gray area around you and abandon black and white thinking that can cause anxiety.
- Live Authentically – When you have a better understanding of who you are, actively pursue decisions that enable you to embrace that knowledge. Eventually, many of these choices will start to seem natural and you will find joy, not anxiety, in following through with them.
These steps are not necessarily easy. It can be nerve-wracking to practice self-awareness and confront the thoughts and feelings about yourself that may be unpleasant. Patience and compassion for yourself can help as you work to define who you really are.