Self-awareness is defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” Going a step further, it’s having a clear perceptionof strengths, weaknesses, and motivations.
Self-awareness is essential for developing keen gut instincts. For without self-awareness it is impossible to interpret the meaning behind your thoughts, emotions – and, yes – your instincts.
Which begs the question, how do you develop self-awareness?
“Do a body scan of what’s going on for you. You may think ‘I feel nervous right now,’ or ‘I feel like I’m (unsure) what’s coming next.’ Use these skills of emotional labeling to get in touch with what you gut might be saying to you,” says Wiling.
According to science, our feelings are not random. Rather, they originate from a construct of something observable. To convert this construct into something measurable and actionable, we must reflect.
In other words, instincts are often messy pieces of information. They must be “mined” in order to determine their worth.
“What we label a gut feeling is always based on a set of variables that we haven’t spent time articulating,” explains Bruce Pfau, a psychologist and senior partner at KPMG. “Only when you bring those facts into the light of day can you analyze them objectively and dispassionately and move on to making a good decision.”
HAVE TIME TO REFLECT
David Desteno, Ph.D., and author of The Truth About Trust says “You’re not as trustworthy as you think. Neither am I. I know because we ask everyday folks in our lab studies if they consider themselves honest. Almost everyone says yes, but his or her actions don’t sync up.”
For your instincts to produce good results – or, at the very least, prevent bad ones – you must overcome the natural tendency of wishful thinking. Some of us have a devious talent for rationalizing our own bad behavior. Marriages, careers, lives, have been ruined because the individual coaxed themselves into thinking their faulty instincts actually had merit.
We’re all good people at our core. In fact, this positive human trait is what makes instincts so valuable. This good nature enables us to feel guilt when we think about doing something dishonest – and then change our course of action.