The goal is that by better recognizing these different parts of our personalities, we become more aware of our own tendencies and patterns – and this can help us better navigate our relationships and how we connect with others.
Getting to know your own personality improves your ability to infer the mental states of others, a skill known as “theory of mind” or empathy.
Self-awareness and empathy are intimately connected. Once we become more aware of what makes us who we are, we are better able to understand the differences between ourselves and others and what makes them tick.
Not surprisingly, both “self awareness” and “empathy” are considered to be two of the main pillars behind emotional intelligence. “Empathy” is technically “other-awareness,” so it’s literally the direct counterpart to “self-awareness.”
Why is empathy important? It’s not just about recognizing ways you are similar to others, but recognizing the ways you are very different, as well.
It’s impossible to empathize with others if you believe that everyone is exactly the same as you – that’s not trying to understand another perspective – that’s projecting your own perspective onto others. Also, if something is unimportant to you such as closeness to a pet, it will be difficult to have empathy for someone who lost a pet. You might sincerely feel sorry for your friend’s sorrow, but empathy isn’t in the mix.
You’ve heard the expression “I feel your pain” when people are trying to empathize. Unless they have been in the same situation they cannot feel your pain. Sympathy for your pain is different than empathy.
You can improve your self-awareness. Here are 5 effective ways to begin practicing immediately:
Personality Quizzes (on-line everywhere)
Talk Less Listen More (really)