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Elevate yourself: Learning how to raise self-awareness in adulthood

Natalie Macaluso is the founder of The Orange Side, and an affiliate member of The Adult Learning Hub. She helps ambitious but overwhelmed self-employed people and business owners, reorganise and reprioritise to feel raring to go. She is also a keen learner, always wanting to improve her practice. This week, she shares with us 3 practical insights into how we can raise our self-awareness as adults...

If there is one thing we excel at as humans, it's denial. That applies to many areas but particularly when it comes to ourselves. Denial of who we are is like always getting dressed in the dark only to be surprised when you get outside to find you're wearing odd socks. By knowing ourselves better, and seeing ourselves as learners, it allows us to make more informed choices about how we act and therefore how we live. Doesn't that sound like a better option?

So, how exactly can we raise our self awareness?

1. Willingness

Awareness is made up of many parts but in order to learn about ourselves and raise our self-awareness, first and foremost, we must be willing.

Once you are willing to look ahead, to look within and to acknowledge your actions with honesty but without judgement, you have far more power to control the choices you are making. Or, put another way, you put the light on to get dressed. Everything we do is a choice. Learning to raise our self-awareness facilitates better choices. Once you open up the possibility of choice, you open up your world to opportunity.

For those of us who facilitate learning for adults, for example, a willingness to see our practice with honesty allows us to explore alternative approaches or see learners from different perspectives. This can absolutely apply to educators who work with groups in academic, community, and corporate settings as well.

2. Enablement

My company The Orange Side is a coaching business. The function of coaching is defined in a variety of different ways. In its simplest form, and my personal favourite, it moves people from where they are to where they want to be. In order to do that effectively, they must learn to be self-aware. Raising your self-awareness will occur faster and with greater honesty when you are presented with a neutral sounding board to reflect back how you see yourself. This is so important for adult educators in any context, really. Coaching can facilitate a greater learning of oneself. Galileo Galilei said, "We cannot teach people anything. We can only help them to discover it within themselves."

In his book, The Inner Game of Tennis, Timothy Gallwey writes, "No teacher is greater than one's own experience." Experience is our living textbook. If you can reflect on your actions, without judgement, you are better placed to improve. He looks at our most natural and effective processes when it comes to learning: those same intuitive capabilities that we employed to learn how to walk and talk. As we grow and develop through life, it's almost like we forget these processes. We pick up bad habits along the way which interfere when we are already very well-equipped to learn from our actions, iterate and improve. For coaches, educators and facilitators, perhaps using a journal to regularly re-evaluate how we do things, can help us to see our practice from a learning perspective, with more objectivity and less judgement.

If we are so good at this skill at the start of our life, when does the willingness to try again occur? The short answer is it's different for everyone. Like good comedy, it's all in the timing. Development and environment being big parts of that.

3. Learning

I help small business owners and people transitioning into retirement. Although at different stages of life, and with different goals, there is a common theme: they come willing to learn about themselves in order to move forward.

A real advantage to coaching people entering retirement, or this next chapter, brings with it the freedom of time. By having more time, they are more willing to explore different perspectives, look within and learn more about themselves. That is not to say living up to some over inflated pressure of re-invention. Far from it. Living to one's own beat is something I advocate for everyone. But viewing things with a fresh perspective is far more about re-learning your true self than it is about re-invention. In so doing, this next chapter can become the greatest part of their story.

Personally, I have always loved the concept of moving forward. That simple notion of "from here to there" has been a constant in my career, although I only recently realised it. For those who are tasked with adult learning for example, there is no end to how we grow or form our practice further. 

Ultimately, a willingness to learn strengthens our knowledge. With greater knowledge comes greater understanding. Applying that to yourself and the choices you make seems like a beautiful light in which to get dressed. It suits you.

Natalie will soon be heading up her next six-week group coaching programme, for those transitioning into retirement and looking for a new start, called "This Is What's Next.' starts Monday 8th February 2021. You can email her here (with the subject line 'What's next?') if interested.

Check out her services at The Orange Side / Follower her Instagram / Or Connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook

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