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How to use your superpower

by Melanie Gallo, PhD

Do you know what your superpower is? No, not THAT superpower. I’m talking about your most powerful tool—self-awareness!

Self-awareness is the key to unlocking your potential and achieving your goals.

When you know yourself well, you can use your strengths to your advantage and work on improving your weaknesses.

With self-awareness, you can make better decisions and become a happier, more fulfilled person.

Last week in part 1, I touched on the art of “being aware of your awareness,” also referred to as “metacognition.”

Imagine you’re driving home from work and all of a sudden your sitting in your driveway. “How did I get here? I don’t even remember driving!” Or, you are watching tv only to realize that you have no idea what you just watched so you rewind to watch it again. This momentary awareness of knowing what you know, or don't know is called metacognition.

In this second part of the article series, I’m going to delve deeper into the so-called “metacognitive skills.”

Metacognitive skills provide a basis for broader psychological self-awareness, including how you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

It could also be applied in different social scenarios as a way of inspecting yourself internally.

So without further ado, let’s discuss this fascinating topic further.

The 3 Pillars—Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Much like anything else that we can apply in our lives, metacognition too has its fundamentals.

In our everyday lives, those three fundamentals are namely your ability to 1) plan, 2) monitor, 3) evaluate and then adjust! Ok, that’s 4 but you get the idea.

Let’s discuss these three pillars!

Planning Strategies

Planning refers to the selection of strategies and allocation of resources that influence task performance.

Selecting good strategies and good allocation of resources is a sign of accurate planning.

As people learn to plan, they learn to anticipate the strengths and weaknesses of their ideas.

Planning strategies used to strengthen metacognition helps to scrutinize plans at a time when they can most easily be changed.

Dr. Robin Fogarty and Brian Pete call this strategy “Inking your Thinking.” It’s a simple writing log that requires a person to reflect on an event, lesson, learning, etc., they are going to embark on.

Sample starters may include “I predict… “, “A question I have is… “, or “A picture I have of this is… “.

Writing logs are also helpful in the middle or end of assignments, projects, etc.

Monitoring Strategies.

Monitoring strategies used to strengthen metacognition help people check their progress and review their thinking at various stages.

Different from scrutinizing, this strategy is more reflective in nature.

It also allows for adjustments while the plan, activity, or assignment is in motion.

Monitoring strategies encourage recovery of learning. For example, we can recover our memory by scanning or re-reading.

Fogarty and Pete call this “Alarm Clock.” It is used to rethink an idea once you realize something is amiss.

The idea is to develop internal signals that sound an alarm.

It involves thinking about “What I did,” then reviewing the pluses and minuses of one’s action.

Finally, it means asking, “What other thoughts do I have?” moving forward.

Remember, the idea is not to tell yourself or others what you or they did wrong.

Rather, help monitor and think about learning. These are formative skills that last a lifetime.

Evaluation Strategies.

Evaluation refers to assessing the end product of a particular task.

The efficiency with which the task has been executed is also assessed.

According to Fogarty and Pete, the evaluation strategies of metacognition “are much like the mirror in a powder compact.”

“When one opens the compact and looks in the mirror, only a small portion of the face is reflected back, but that particular part is magnified so that every nuance, every flaw, and every bump is blatantly in view.”

Having this enlarged view makes inspection much easier.

When people inspect part of their work, they learn about the nuances of their thinking process.

They grow in the ability to apply their learning to new situations.

“Connecting Elephants' ' is one of many metacognitive strategies to help students and people self-evaluate and apply their learnings.

In this exercise, the metaphor of three elephants is used.

The elephants are walking together in a circle, connected to the trunk and tail of the other elephant.

The three elephants represent three big questions - 1) What is the big idea?, 2) How does this connect to other big ideas? and 3) How can I use this big idea?

Using the image of a “big idea” helps people magnify and synthesize their learning.

It also encourages them to think about how that newly learned knowledge can be applied to new situations.

Closely related to the word metacognition are the different learning styles.

Anyone who knows, or knows and thinks about thinking, knows which learning style suits them best. (Yes, that was a complicated sentence.)

Final Thoughts

It's time to start thinking about your thoughts. If you're an introvert, the chances are that this isn't anything new for you.

Introverts have a natural tendency towards deep thought and reflection on their experiences in the world around them - which might be why they find social interactions so exhausting!

But regardless of whether or not it comes naturally to you, metacognition is something worth practicing because it can help improve moods, relationships with others, and even mental health.

So, hey, stay aware of your awareness! It’s potentially your greatest superpower.

I’m Melanie Gallo, Ph.D., a WorkLife Psychology coach and writer specializing in personality and thinking habits. Through my fun and innovative app called Coach2GO, I help today’s professionals define their WorkLifeJoy, then help them discover why they don't have it, why they need it, how to get it, and how to keep it. Get in touch directly or download my free Coach2GO app today.


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