How To Be More Self-Aware

Is It Possible To Be Too Self-Aware?

Dog with his head tilted to the side in a questioning manner.

Surely the world would be a kinder, gentler, happier place if more people worked on their self-awareness. And yet, for those already well-versed in the attribute, their struggle isn’t about being self-aware. It’s about being too self-aware.

Sounds implausible, doesn’t it? Like having too much money, intelligence…or chocolate. How can too much of a good thing be a not-so-good thing?

Let’s start with the basics: What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is an ongoing process of recognizing, acknowledging, and understanding yourself, both internally and externally. 

Internal self-awareness is a bit like sliding down the rabbit hole and observing your own inner thoughts and feelings. You become an objective observer of your subjective self.

“Wow! Two years ago I wouldn’t have had that opinion.” 

“I feel nauseous and weak every time I reach for the phone to call (whomever).” 

“Why am I judging this person whom I don’t even know?”

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have my same political beliefs.”

Internal self-awareness, in and of itself, bears no judgment. It recognizes, collects information, and pauses to acknowledge physical, mental, and emotional messages.

It then uses that information to shape or refine thoughts and behaviors.

External self-awareness, on the other hand, is like…

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How Unexpected Events Give You The Opportunity To Increase Self-Awareness

Man sitting on a balcony and contemplating his self-awareness.

When the unexpected comes knocking (and it always will), how do you greet it? As an anxiety-inducing uh-oh that needs to be circumvented or eradicated altogether? Or as an opportunity to increase self-awareness and problem-solving skills?

This whole concept of self-awareness may conjure up images of escaping to Walden Pond with an Oprah’s Book Club bestseller. New Age-y, impractical, midlife-enlightenment stuff that makes eyes roll and guests leave the dinner table before dessert.

But not so fast….

While any term preceded by “self-“ may sound like a topic for another day, no prefix is more conducive to a vibrant life with healthy relationships.

And the foundation of all these “selfies” is self-awareness. 

Life, in its broadest sense, is about lessons. And those lessons grow out of our perceptions of and responses to the events life presents to us.

As you develop self-awareness, you also develop communication and relationship skills — genuine, sustainable, transferable skills.

And, as you increase self-awareness, you also develop leadership skills that can improve every area of your life.

Think about a favorite teacher, boss, or project lead. Why was that specific person chosen for that specific position? And what made him/her so good at it?

Chances are your answers will include…

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5 Reasons Being Self-Aware Is A Practice & Not A Destination

Man sitting in a room of potted plants thinking about being self-aware.

Funny thing about self-awareness. You need a certain amount of awareness in order to pursue it. A little chicken-and-egg quest for your best self...and a cyclical reminder that being self-aware is a practice, not a destination.

Self-awareness is a component of emotional intelligence. And, like the intelligence we associate with academics, there is no endpoint – only layering and refining. 

The more you know, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you know. And ‘round and ‘round we go.

And so it is with being self-aware. A little light cast into a dark corner not only reveals what needs to be cleaned, but inspires the possibilities when light floods the whole room.

The foundation for this ever-emerging quality of self-awareness begins in infancy, when there is little more than physical awareness. An empty stomach signals a wailing to be fed. A loud noise startles a peaceful sleep. 

The child is immersed in sensory stimulation. The experience is “objective,” “external,” survival-driven...until the sun rises over the horizon and reveals an inner response to the experience.

A thought, a feeling, a curiosity attaches to the experience. This “outer” life is working its way inside.

And so the “sense of self”…

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How Can Self-Awareness Be Developed?

Woman looking up while standing in a forest and contemplating her self-awareness.

There are destinations we never reach, though we persevere on the journey. And there are books that are never finished, though the author continues to outline and edit. But what about the self – that perpetual, cradle-to-coffin quest that remains ever elusive? Can we consciously “build” on it? And, if so, how can self-awareness be developed?

The irony of self-awareness is that it exceeds mere awareness.

At some point early in life, the child looks in the mirror and connects his reflection with the physical being standing before the glass.

This objective awareness is just that objective. It doesn’t exude from an evaluative processing or contemplation of experience. It has no moral relevance, no inspiration for behavioral modification.

And yet, awareness of the objective self is foundational to what comes after: the subjective self.

It’s here, where the mirror reflects inward, that self-awareness steps out on a lifetime journey. And, though there may be looking back, there can never be turning back.

Roy Baumeister describes the concept of self-awareness as:

Anticipating how others perceive you, evaluating yourself and your actions according to collective beliefs and values, and caring about how others evaluate you.

Even within the quiet containment of the individual self, self-awareness has profound…

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Why Great Leadership In Any Area Of Life Requires Self-Awareness

Smiling couple enjoying the benefits of self-awareness on their relationship.

Do you know yourself well enough to be a great leader?

At some point we’ve all thought about the qualities of a great leader based on our experience with a poor leader. A heartless boss, a hypocritical politician, a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do parent. Sometimes the absence of admirable qualities makes us all the more aware of what we admire. We intrinsically know the qualities of great leadership. And self-awareness tops the list.

You know what it’s like to be under someone else’s authority. A teacher, coach, manager – anyone charged with influencing an outcome by directing the behavior of others can wield a lot of power. And that power can shape more than just your salary or performance in the classroom or on the field.

Leadership isn’t limited to those with direct authority or power. It’s a quality that is cultivated (or starkly absent) in anyone who exudes influence in the lives of others. When someone is a leader in name or by appointment only, everyone suffers. But, when someone blends leadership and self-awareness into an expression of personal integrity, all things become possible.

The beauty of leadership is that it’s a quality available to everyone, regardless of professional rank. And it’s applicable to every area of…

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