Self- Awareness Starter Kit
4 Books For Self Awareness, Reflection and Knowledge
I genuinely believe that one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, both personally and professionally, is get to know yourself: your personality, your strengths, your flaws, your way of seeing the world. With all of the wonderful conversations happening around “self-care” I often wonder, how can we expect to care for ourselves well if we don’t also take time to get to know ourselves?
The more that I learn about myself, and the more that I see myself as complex and messy, the more I can also see that other people are equally as unique and complicated. Understanding breeds empathy and I think that self awareness and self knowledge is a key component to practicing empathy for yourself and others. Whether its friends, family, or colleagues, expanding your understanding of how you work can be hugely helpful in communicating clearly, solving conflict, and understanding other’s perspectives.
So, these are the 4 books that make up what I am calling the “Self-Awareness Starter Kit.” Each of these books have helped me grow in self-awareness and are excellent tools for learning more about yourself. Each of these books are great starting points, while there may be other books on the same subjects, I am recommending these specifically because of their simplicity and accessibility.
The Four Tendencies By Gretchen Rubin
What You Will Learn About Yourself: This book gives insight into the ways that people are motivated. Rubin breaks people into four different groups: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel. You will learn which is your tendency, and how to motivate yourself and people with each of the other 3 tendencies. Ultimately it gives insight into how to set goals and actually follow through on them, as well as how to best motivate others.
How It can Help You: If you struggle to get things accomplished, or can’t work out why you achieve some goals with ease and energy and others are impossible to get done, then this book is a worthwhile read.
The Four Tendencies is accessible, straight forward, and readable, making it a great starting point if you feel a little weary about personality typing. If you like the idea of working smarter, not harder this is the book for you.
Where to Start: Take the quiz. Either online here, or in chapter two of the book.
Reading People By Anne Bogel
This book is a little different—rather than the focus being prescriptive, it is personal. Anne talks about her own experience with misunderstanding herself and finding tools that helped her see her own personality, strengths, and weaknesses clearly.
What You Will Learn About Yourself: you will likely learn whether you are an introvert or extrovert, if you are a Highly Sensitive Person or not, and your love languages. And, perhaps most importantly, you’ll grow in understanding the practical and real life ways that understanding the personality types and characteristics of yourself, and others, really can change everything.
How It Can Help You: This is a great primer on all things personality. It gives you an overview of 7 different personality tests or structures (including the two listed below). Reading People is the perfect book if you are unfamiliar with how personality types are characterized.
Where To Start: With the book! If you are unfamiliar with Anne Bogel, she is the host of What Should I Read Next podcast and writes on her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, aka she is a professional book recommender and book blogger. She reads the audiobook for this and that would be a great place to start (though I do think it is valuable to have a physical copy of the book to mark up and make notes about what resonates with you).
Strengths finder By Tom Rath
What You Will Learn About Yourself: Not only does this map out your top five strengths it also helps you see the way that your specific strengths fit into the bigger picture and work with other people's strengths.
How It Can Help You: This book/test is especially helpful in the context of team or work relationships. Knowing your own strengths can help you choose tasks or jobs that align with what you’re likely to excel in. Knowing the strengths of you colleagues, family, employees, teammates, ect. will help you delegate better and see who works well together and what each person brings to the table. It shows you how our strengths and weaknesses are linked and how to lean in to the positive side of your strongest attributes.
Where To Start: Get your hands on a new copy of the book, and use the access code to take the online assessment (this will take about 30 minutes). After that, read about each of your strengths, and then read about the rest (each books comes with an access code for the online assessment, which is why you must get a new copy).
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery*
By Ian Morgan Cron and Susan Stabile
This is definitely the most deep and intensive book listed here. It cuts right to the core of who we are and focuses on the deep thoughts and feelings that drive us. In a way this is the antithesis to many personality tests and focuses on the dark parts of ourselves rather than our strengths and positive attributes. It is not uncommon to find the enneagram startling or disheartening at first, but this is the reason it is so helpful. It gives a new language and perspective to truly look at the aspects of ourself that we rarely think about, and almost never discuss, but that also affect us the most.
What You Will Learn About Yourself: The possibilities are endless here. But a few things that you will definitely learn from this book: your “core wound”, your orientation to the world (heart, mind, body), how you respond to stress and security, what it looks like for you to grow in health.
How It Can Help You: One of my favorite parts about the enneagram is how dynamic it is, it does not simply help you learn about yourself, but also where your type is related to the other 8 types, and how you behave in both times of health and security and stress.
Where To Start: I suggest starting by asking your friends and family if they have ever heard of the enneagram. Finding someone who has studied the system that you trust can be very helpful. Or, this is a great book to “buddy read” where you can discuss and learn along side of a trusted friend
Do not, I’m serious here, DO NOT start by taking an online quiz. If you are looking for a fun, fast, or easy way to figure out “your number” just don’t bother with the enneagram. If it’s going to be helpful and effective, it has to be a journey. In other words it is going to take time and effort. This system is too complex to be boiled down to a quick quiz, so it really isn’t worth it. Start with the book. Read the Introduction, and if you want to get the most out of it, read it in the order that it is written in.
Additionally, if you really want my two cents, avoid calling yourself by a number or completely identifying with a type until you’ve thought about it, and observed your thoughts, feelings, motivations, and behaviors through the lens of the enneagram for at least a few months.
*The authors of this book are both Christians, and write with that world view. There are some mentions of God and religious texts throughout the book but this is in no way only written for people of faith and has no religious agenda. I am recommending this book for it’s clear teaching, helpful illustrations, and accessible overview of the enneagram.
Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment and let me know if you plan on reading any of these books. Or, if you have already read any of these I would love to know what you thoughts about it and if you found it helpful! I am always looking for new books like this, so if you have a favorite book that has helped you become more self-aware please comment bellow!