Being self-aware includes knowing what you like and dislike, recognizing what motivates you, being familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, and even tuning in to how the world around you sees and experiences you as well. Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself openly and objectively through reflection and self-examination, or introspection.
Self-awareness is about learning to better understand your feelings, specifically, why you feel what you feel; and beyond that, why you behave in the way that you do.
Once you grasp that, then you then open the possibility and unlock the freedom to change things about yourself, which in turn allows you to create a life that you want to live.
It’s nearly impossible to grow and become more self-accepting if you are unsure of who you are. Having clarity about who you are and what you want can be empowering, and provide you with the confidence to make necessary changes.
When we are self-aware, we are more confident and even more creative. Research suggests that we also make solid decisions, communicate more effectively, and in turn have the ability to build stronger relationships. Professionally, we are better workers who get more things done more effectively, this can lead to receiving more promotions.
And as leaders, those with greater self-awareness tend to be more effective with employees. Creating teams who are not only satisfied with their work but thriving at it as well, which leads to more successful and profitable companies.
What Is Self-Awareness?
The dictionary defines self-awareness as “knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character.”
What does that mean?
When you're self-aware, you have an accurate and clear understanding of your personality, strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. You know what makes you tick.
Self-awareness also includes an understanding of how others may perceive you.
Lacking self-awareness can lead to a very confusing and frustrating life.
That’s because your level of self-awareness can influence your relationships, career, and overall happiness.
Why Self-Awareness Matters
Self-awareness is important because when we have a better understanding of ourselves, we are able to experience ourselves as the unique people we were created and intended to be.
Self-awareness is oftentimes the first step to goal setting. It is being mindful of what you're good at while still accepting what you still have to learn. This includes admitting when you don't have the answer and owning up to mistakes.
In the world we live in today, many of us operate on the idea that we must seem as though we know everything about everything or people will question what we are capable of, and then possibly even judge us.
The reality is that whether you acknowledge your weaknesses or not, they still exist and it is quite possible that everyone (or almost everyone) still sees them. So rather than hide them, the person who tries to mask weaknesses actually only ends up drawing more attention to them. This then creates what could be perceived as a lack of integrity and self-awareness.
Self-awareness matters for many reasons, but here are a few key reasons that self-awareness matters.
Self-awareness is necessary for taking control of your life.
The direction of your life is determined by your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and reactions. Self-awareness is the principal way of understanding and managing these things.
Self-awareness highlights faulty beliefs and emotional reactions that stand in your way and gives you the power to make necessary adjustments.
Facing failures and challenges
Self-awareness illuminates the real reasons for past failures and challenges.
We often dismiss our failures as bad luck or a lack of proper timing, training, or some other external variable.
The reality is that it's much more likely that you failed to perceive the situation, others, and yourself accurately.
Self-awareness makes it much easier to see the reason behind relationships, work, and other struggles when you can look at yourself clearly.
Do you find that you consistently struggle in a specific area of your life – maybe at work? Or in your relationships?
It's only logical to then conclude that you're doing something ineffectively.
If you are struggling at work, maybe it is time to look at how you interact with co-workers and leadership, the quality of your work, or some other variable.
If you are struggling in relationships, maybe it’s that you are allowing yourself to attract people that you know are not good for you, but settling for company or companionship. Or maybe you lack effective communication and need to do some work there.
Those who lack self-awareness are puzzled by their negative outcomes or blame others instead of doing the necessary internal evaluation.
Self-awareness is a particularly critical quality for leaders.
And leadership does not just include being in a supervisory role at work. Leadership can include being the head of your household, a parent to a child, or even a mentor to others.
Being self-aware is critical for your leadership potential, both personally and professionally.
One study concluded that a high degree of self-awareness was the best predictor of success for executives.
Executives that have an understanding of their weaknesses are able to build a team composed of members that complement those weaknesses.
A lack of self-awareness puts a limit on your leadership abilities, both personally and professionally.
How to Develop Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is the foundation for personal progress. Without it, any personal development efforts will be severely hampered.
Building greater self-awareness won't happen overnight, but it can be developed.
Build your self-awareness one step at a time with these suggestions.
Write your own personal statement of belief
Think about and then document your views on life, your goals, and your intentions. Write your own manifesto if you will.
Start by just simply answering with whatever comes to mind, the following questions:
- What does it take to be happy?
- How important is happiness to you?
- What do I want for my life to look like and feel like?
- What do I want to accomplish in my time here?
You might be surprised by what you write. This is a great first step for understanding yourself and what you believe.
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses
Take a note of what you think are your greatest strengths and areas of opportunity.
When you write these things down, add evidence of what makes them true.
For example, if listening is your strength. You may be able to use the fact that friends always feel comfortable talking to you because you allow them to get their thoughts out without judgment.
Additionally, for this step, you may want to see what others say about these things.
Ask people who know you what they believe your three greatest strengths are? And what your 3 greatest opportunities for growth are?
You can do this with friends, family, and even co-workers and leadership in your workplace to see how it aligns personally and professionally.
What would others say about you?
Consider how your partner, children, friends, family, co-workers, and boss would describe you.
This is deeper than your strengths and weaknesses. This is about how they describe your personality, interacting with you, communicating with you, etc.
Think about what would they suggest you improve about yourself? This may be something that you have heard them tell you or ask of you.
For example, your spouse may have asked that you be a little more considerate of what they have going on, or to communicate with them more about what is happening in your world.
Then ask them and see how accurate you are. Do you know how others perceive you?
This will also help you to find out how perceptive you are.
Meditation is all about developing a better awareness of the present moment and yourself. Meditation is an ideal activity for enhancing self-awareness.
Not sure where to start? This article written by David Gelles in the New York Times offers up some suggestions on meditation and even has some guided meditations to get you started.
Try to find time to meditate at least once each day. Spend the rest of the day paying attention to yourself, others, and your surroundings. You can develop a higher degree of self-awareness by just tuning in and paying attention.
Question yourself throughout the day. Ask yourself things like:
- “What am I attempting to achieve?”
- “What emotions am I currently feeling and why?”
- “How might the people around me be feeling?”
Judgment is having a mostly critical point of view toward something.
And whether you realize it or not, you probably judge yourself often.
When evaluating things that you do and thoughts that you have, you most likely categorize them as good or bad.
Labeling something as “bad” limits your ability to accept that thing about yourself. Without judging your thoughts and actions you actually give yourself the freedom and ability to change the thing if it needs to be changed.
You may even notice that the less you judge yourself, the less you judge others. And maybe, the practice of acceptance can give you the solid foundation to move forward in creating a life that is more satisfying and fulfilling.
Self-awareness is the cornerstone of success and self-improvement. Without self-awareness, the knowledge you possess can't be applied effectively.
It's necessary to understand your beliefs, habits, strengths, and weaknesses to make personal changes where necessary.
Avoid assuming that you're self-aware.
Give it some time and thought.
Life is easier when you're self-aware. You can start building your self-awareness, and reaping the benefits as soon as today!
Ready to become more self-aware?
Get signed up for self-awareness group coaching where we do the work to examine our thoughts and beliefs, tune into our desires, and do the work to walk in our true authentic selves. Or start by grabbing your copy of the Self Awareness Workbook – Who Are You? Designed to help you journal your way into a greater space of self-awareness.