What Is Self-Awareness?
Essentially, it’s knowing the state of your internal self, your
intuitions, preferences, resources, and skills. Really, it’s about
knowing that there is one thing you control in this life and it’s your
perception of your world.
It’s much easier to navigate difficult
and unexpected situations when you are in tune with your internal preferences.
Perhaps more importantly, you can improve how you react to the unexpected when
you are aware of how your unconscious self reacts to these types of events.
There are a whole host of benefits
when it comes to developing your self-awareness. However, perhaps the biggest
one is its influence in allowing you to choose your mindset, taking the
negative and spinning into a positive.
People who lack awareness will run
into the same obstacles repeatedly and never understand why it keeps happening.
Someone with self-awareness has the capacity to look within for an honest
self-examination, which helps them get to the root of issues.
For example, people seem to avoid
approaching you with questions. If you lack self-awareness, then it’s likely
you just accept this or feel frustrated by it. A self-aware person will take
the time to determine why that’s the case.
There is a major difference between
these two people. One of these people is willing and has the ability to get to
the bottom of the problem, while the other isn’t interested. The former has the
power of self-awareness. The power to fix the problems and to recognize when it
is they who are the problem.
Examples of Self-Awareness
You have had a tough day at work, the
only thing you want is to get home and chill out. Yet, here you are, stuck in
traffic again. It starts with feeling bummed out about the holdup, but
it quickly escalates into agitation and then straight up anger.
Let’s sprinkle a bit of self-awareness
on this situation. No, you aren’t going to magically enjoy the time you
spend stuck in traffic. However, it will allow you to change your reaction to
being stuck in traffic. You can make the choice to not be annoyed.
You can choose to turn the radio up
and sing along. It’s an opportunity to listen to an extra episode of your
favorite podcast or to enjoy a moment of meditation and deep breathing. With a
bit of self-awareness, you are capable of recognizing that you’re only being
delayed for a few moments. The stress you allow it to bring on you can shave
far more moments off of the end of your life.
Do you enjoy streaming? Are you the
type of person who binges an entire series as soon as it lands on your favorite
streaming service? You’re not alone, we are all capable of it. Some days, it’s
the best way to spend your time, snuggled under a blanket as the rain falls
There’s a small issue, though, many
people binge as a way to escape problems. They slip away from reality to ignore
a deadline, a fight, homework, etc. Obviously, this is the kind of binge that
This is where self-awareness comes in.
With self-awareness you can recognize what type of binge you’re on – are you
just enjoying a relaxing day or are you trying to escape something?
If you don’t possess self-awareness,
then you may struggle to tell the difference between a day of streaming. It all
looks the same, but it’s not. If you recognize your avoidance, then it will
make the decision to stop much easier.
You will possess the ability to deal
with the responsibilities before you start streaming. Plus, you can
enjoy that binge much more when you know everything you needed to deal with has
been dealt with. It’s now entertainment instead of procrastination.
Self-Awareness and Self-Understanding
You’re a complex entity. In order to
become more self-aware, you have to understand yourself in all areas.
There are a number of key areas that are important in terms of
self-awareness, including your personality, values, habits, emotions, and your
psychological needs as well.
People don’t tend to change their
personality (or needs and values) as they learn about themselves. However,
having an understanding of your personality will aid you in just about any
More importantly, understanding your
personality will allow you to seek out situations where you will thrive and
avoid the situations that bring you the most stress. For example, an
introverted person is going to experience far more stress in an active sales
role when compared to an out and out extrovert. An introvert should look for
situations that will play to their strengths.
Do you know your values? It’s
important. Your top priority might be supporting your children fully while
someone else’s first priority is their spiritual health. Regardless, it’s easy
to lose sight of the values that speak to your very core. You likely face a
variety of issues throughout your day, likewise, there is an endless stream of
opportunities you are faced with.
This is a daily occurrence. They
rarely involve your values, though, so it’s easy to end up focused on
activities that are low on your priority list and are completely unrelated to
your values. Yet, really, every decision that you make, every opportunity that
you take (or don’t), can be viewed through the lens of your values.
Does taking that overtime shift really honor your value of putting your children first? It might. It might not. That’s up to you to determine, but you can’t make that decision unless you have the self-awareness to recognize your values. You are more likely to accomplish important things if you remain focused on your values.
A habit is basically just a behavior
that you carry out routinely, automatically. In an ideal world, you would
possess healthy habits, ones that allow you to interact with others, cope with
your stress load, and live well. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much a guarantee
that you possess at least one habit that doesn’t serve you well.
For example, a manager who makes major
decisions without discussing the matter with anyone else will likely impact the
employees who are impacted by those decisions. A manager with self-awareness
would understand the need to hear their thoughts and weigh the options before
making that final decision.
Self-awareness of your emotions is a
measure of your emotional intelligence. It’s important that we understand our
feelings, as well as what is causing them, in what way they impact your actions
and thoughts. That’s what emotional self-awareness is.
Once, you felt excited about your job,
but now you don’t. Can you reignite your passion for your career? It would be
difficult to do so if you don’t understand what is required internally to get
excited. Yes, that’s a bit of an oversimplification.
Let’s use your vehicle as an example.
You fill it with gas, you check the oil, you check tire pressure, and you
expect it to start when you turn the key. A mechanic, however, has a deeper
understanding. So, when the ignition turns over and your car won’t start, a
mechanic has a deeper understanding with regards to why this may be the
You might not understand the internal process a car goes through to start, but a mechanic does. The same can be said for someone with emotional self-awareness. They understand their internal process; therefore, they have greater control over their emotions.
There are a number of psychological
needs driving your behavior, including affection, achievement, power, and
esteem. Understanding which of these needs holds the largest influence on your
behavior, however, is key to knowing how this affects your relationships. For
example, people with a high need for great status are attracted to jobs that
provide them with that status. They seek out those positions within the social
circle, their organization, and are drawn to things that symbolize the status
they have achieved.
They want the respect, perks, and
privileges that come with that status, perks that low-status people don’t and
can’t have. They are motivated by that need over all other needs. Our needs
cause our motivation and when we don’t satisfy those needs, whatever they are,
it causes stress, frustration, and conflict. What psychological need takes
precedence for you?
10 Key Benefits of Self-Awareness
With a bit of self-awareness, you can
identify the gaps in your skills in every aspect of your life. It will also
help you find the situations in which you will shine. It helps you manage
stress, motivate yourself and others, and develop your skills as well. The benefits
are endless, let’s dig deeper.
Deep Understanding of Yourself
This is something that will continue
to grow. When you are aware that you function best with seven hours sleep under
your belt, then you will go out of your way to ensure you get it. You will know
precisely what to do in order to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. It is
this knowledge of yourself (not just your need for sleep) that will aid you in
every area of your life.
It Makes You Proactive
Forget firefighting and having to react
all of the time. Self-awareness invites a proactive mindset. You will no
longer cast yourself in the role of victim or ask why me? Rather, you
will find the best way to achieve your goals, you will take active steps in
order to advance your career. Self-awareness positions you in a place of
Most professionals will tell you that
one thing a successful leader needs is thick skin. A thin-skinned leader takes
everything personally, and it’s no way to live a happy life. This isn’t just
something that’s effective for leaders, though, we could all stand to have
When it comes to your weaknesses and strengths, your talents, flaws, and abilities… you should already know it all. You don’t need someone else to point it out, but even if they do point it out, you don’t take it personally. If someone can’t recognize your worth, that’s their problem. Self-awareness means never wasting your energy or time trying to change the minds of others when it’s not necessary. Some people won’t like you and that’s okay.
Mistakes Facilitate Growth
People with self-awareness don’t beat
themselves up over making mistakes. They recognize that mistakes facilitate
growth, even if you make the same mistake more than once. There’s always a
lesson to be learned. Like most things, life is a process and perfection is an
You Know Why
You should never be shocked by your
behavior because with self-awareness you know why you behave the way you do. Of
course, you can surprise yourself in other ways, like completing a marathon
that you didn’t believe you could really do. What we’re talking about is
behavior. Your behavior doesn’t come out of left field.
You’re honest, both about who you are
and in how you deal with others. You hear what people say to you. There is no
need for you to create an exhausting fake persona to protect your real self.
You can just be you. There’s less conflict within relationships when people are
self-aware and open about who they really are.
It’s easy to miss what is happening
right now when you’re busy holding onto pain and wrongdoing of the past.
Self-awareness helps you understand the importance of making peace with the
people and the pain of your past.
More importantly, not giving it the
power to hurt you over and over again. You can be grateful for the good times
someone brought to your life and let go of the pain they may have brought.
Self-awareness makes you strong enough to move forward.
You have your limits, you know where
they are, and you know how to enforce them. That’s what self-awareness brings
to your life. When faced with situations where your boundaries are being
crossed, you have the strength to ask what went wrong and how you can change
With self-awareness, there’s a deeper
understanding of what steps are necessary in order to achieve the goals and
dreams you have for your life. When you recognize your weaknesses, you can take
steps to change that. Self-awareness makes you bolder, more confident, and it’s
the foundation that you need to take the risks necessary to achieve greatness.
Being Fully Present
If you have a rich fantasy world in your head, then chances are you’re not being honest with yourself. You’re not going to make the changes to chase your dreams and improve your life if you spend too much time in your head, unless you’re somehow processing that fantasy into some kind of productive real-world results. Self-awareness allows you to be more present.
You are focused on yourself and what
you need to do, yes, but you still have energy and time for others in your
life. You know who you are, you know why you behave, you extend compassion to
yourself and others. Your compassion comes from knowing your self-worth.
Prepared to Deal with Things Beyond Your Control
The benefits of self-awareness do not
stop there. Self-awareness makes you better at dealing with the things that you
cannot control. There are a lot of things in our lives that are completely
outside of our control. You do control how you react in these
When you control your reaction to
situations and circumstances, you do so because you have an awareness of your
internal preference, state, and resources. When you know how these situations
impact your state of mind, then you can react differently to them. You get to
decide whether getting stuck in traffic makes you angry or whether you are agitated
or upset in other situations. It won’t always be easy, but it’s a major benefit
that stems from self-awareness.
Additionally, a high level of
self-awareness will allow you to anticipate how events influence you and your
state of mind. You can better direct your life when you know how external
factors impact your life negatively.
Self-awareness doesn’t just give you a
better insight into your own emotions, it also improves your ability to
understand the emotions of others. You know how you will react to certain
situations, but you also recognize the behavior of others and have a good sense
of how they will react to events and circumstances.
It’s easier to get a feel for what is going on
in their mind when you recognize this. Which means you can manage your own
situations as well as that of others. If you are a parent, it means knowing how
your children will react and being able to mitigate that. For a manager, it
means knowing the strengths and weaknesses of employees and playing to their
Beyond that, your self-awareness can
also influence the people around you, more specifically, their state of mind.
When you are self-aware you can actively influence the mindset of others.
No, we’re not talking about
manipulating people. Rather, people often mirror the behavior of others.
Emotions can be contagious. Just think about how a boss in a bad mood can
switch the mood of the office. You choose your mindset and you choose your
mood, that can influence others in a big way. When you actively choose to find
the positive in a bad situation, it will change how others react to difficult
events, situations, and circumstances.
If you are reading this and you’re thinking about your lack of self-awareness, that’s okay. You can improve your self-awareness, and there is more than one method by which to do so.
One way to do this is by keeping a
journal. A journal is a great way to explore what’s going on in your mind on a
daily basis. It will uncover patterns and let you get to know yourself. It will
force you to consider your unconscious habits, why do you do the things that
you do and how do they affect you? You can write anything and everything in
your journal, from career goals to your personal hopes. Just take time out of
your day to write in your journal.
Another excellent way to improve your
self-awareness is to seek out opinions that you don’t necessarily agree with.
Search them out and analyze them. This will force you to look at how
self-awareness plays a role in how we interpret our own realities.
When you read a multitude of opinions
on a particular subject, you can put your own feelings aside and try to see why
others formulate opinions that differ from your own. Your experiences color
your perception and our personal narratives play a major role in that. The same
can be said for others as well.
Finally, take a moment to ask yourself
why? We are all running a mile a minute in this busy, modern world. We
rarely take the time to slow down and just be. It’s time to do that. When you do,
ask why you enjoy life, why you hate life, why you want to be with others
constantly, why you want to be alone, why you do what you do, just… why?
You might not know the answers right
away, but it’s still important to ask and think about them. When you force
yourself to think about it, you’re forcing yourself to improve your
The more you question, the more
familiar you will be with what is running your daily life. This gives you a
better idea of how you react and how you should react, unconsciously and
consciously. Asking why improves your self-awareness as it forces you to think
about what you do and why you do it.
This might be a good place to start in
your journal. Regardless of how you choose to improve your self-awareness, what
you will find is that it benefits you and your life in a multitude of ways.