“I know, I rock ..."
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
… said the 5-year old Merle on the dancefloor at her uncle’s 60th birthday. And she totally did! No one could take their eyes of the funky little girl dancing as if there was no tomorrow. She won everyone’s big smile in a heartbeat, she kept going, she was in her element – pure joy on her face and in her feet.
I hope with all my heart that Merle keeps on rocking and knowing it! Because unfortunately most of the human beings - especially the ones of the same gender as Merle - seem to lose it somehow. And of course, I don’t mean lasting 50 songs in a row on the dancefloor. I mean the heartfelt yes to herself! The “Yes, I can”, “Yes, I just do what I want to do”, “Yes, I know how cool I am.”
Those yeses sound pretty simple but they are more complex than we might figure at first sight. Did you know that there are two types of self-awareness?
“The first, which we dubbed internal self-awareness, represents how clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others. We’ve found that internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.
The second category, external self-awareness, means understanding how other people view us, in terms of those same factors listed above. Our research shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. For leaders who see themselves as their employees do, their employees tend to have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied with them, and see them as more effective in general.” (Tasha Eurich, https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it)
The former roughly relates to Merle’s “Yes, I can” and “Yes, I just do what I want to do”, the latter her “Yes, I know how cool I am.” Good for her!
Now we would expect that for us adults being more introspective makes us happier given the findings above. Not true! “One of the most surprising findings of our research is that people who introspect are less self-aware and report worse job satisfaction and well-being.” And the reason for that lies in the How! Because introspection is often done wrong, namely by focusing on the word why. Asking why often leads us to bad and wrong conclusions - “They only like this picture of me because it was taken with a flash and no one can see my wrinkles”. Self-induced misery by introspection. Bummer!
That’s why we learn in coaching training to lead with What instead of Why and Merle is in fact a wonderful example for that again: She probably never asked why people loved her performance, she just knows she likes dancing (internal self-awareness) and that others enjoy watching her performance (external self-awareness) – Merle is all about the What and it makes her happy.
And that brings me back to Show me love dear self: If you want to believe in yourself, trust yourself and embrace who you are you - all self-love goals which are directly supported by self-awareness - you should do three things:
Think about what makes you happy, what your values are, what the situations are that let you thrive, what light you shine and also – so be it - what’s not your strong suite
Then seek to understand what others have to say about you, what they see, hear and feel when they are with you.
And most importantly don’t get hung up in why all that is but rather spend time on what’s at the core of all aspects taken together and what’s next.
Bottom line: Introspection itself doesn’t make you a better person, it bears the risk of overthinking and beating yourself up even more. Instead become an awesome dancer, dance in the moment and enjoy the floor. It’s yours!
Show yourselves some love, dears!