How To Be More Self-Aware

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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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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Why Emotional Self-Awareness Is Difficult For Some People To Attain

Emotional self-awareness is behind this woman’s smile.

How well do you know yourself?

Who are the people you know really well in your life? Your spouse? Your parents? Your best friend? As you contemplate your most intimate, secret-keeping, mind-reading relationships, do you think of the relationship you have with yourself? Chances are you don’t. The level of emotional self-awareness necessary to truly know, let alone love, yourself isn’t easy to achieve.

Yet, it’s so easy, isn’t it, to have everyone else in your life “figured out.” You predict their thoughts and behaviors. You know why they do what they do. You’ve just been around them so long you can read them like a book.

You may even be “that person” all your friends turn to for a listening ear, comforting shoulder, and sound wisdom. You know what they’re feeling and why. Some people are just that “in touch.”

But how well do you have yourself figured out? Do you have a grasp of why you feel what you feel and do what you do? Can you read yourself the way you (think) you can read others?

Emotional self-awareness is the foundational element of emotional intelligence, which is a cluster of abilities that makes emotional regulation possible. But self-awareness is perhaps…

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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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How Can Self-Awareness Help Me?

Beautiful mature woman wondering, “How can self-awareness help me?”

Would you like your life to be better?

Mirrors are funny things. How else would you have any sense of your countenance without reflective surfaces? That visual self-awareness, however, is just that — visual (and the reverse of how you appear to others). Answering the question How can self-awareness help me? requires a different (and much more important) kind of mirror.

For all the eye rolls women get for the time they spend in front of mirrors, it turns out men have greater expression of the Narcissus gene. Men look at their reflection an average of 23 times a day, compared to 16 times a day for women.

What is especially interesting about this study’s findings is that men visit their reflection to admire it. Women, on the other hand, approach with a more critical eye.

No matter how easy it is to focus on the exterior, life and relationships are about so much more. There’s nothing like the revolving door of Hollywood marriages to drive home the point that wealth and physical beauty don’t guarantee happiness.

So you ask, How can self-awareness help me? How can it make a positive difference in my life if I don’t even realize I need it?

Self-awareness is a…

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