Self-awareness is the notion that we are in tune with our thoughts, feelings, and general world view. For self-aware individuals, their actions are guided by their beliefs and values. In general, beliefs and values are central to our core identity, which means that self-aware individuals are able to live their lives aligned with those beliefs, as well as with specific intention.
What Is Self Awareness?
Self-awareness requires us to dive inward and reflect. It is important in personal development, and while it’s not typical for individuals to think about their level of self-awareness constantly, it does require time and practice to become second nature. As you learn more about yourself, you’ll start to hear a sort of an inner voice.
Ultimately, our level of self-awareness is a reflection of the time we spend with ourselves and what we take away. By nature, humans are not intensely self-aware, but we can develop the tools required to hone this skill.1
How Does Self-Awareness Develop?
The first step to develop self-awareness is to reflect with objectivity and a sense of gratitude and self-forgiveness. Start to question and challenge false beliefs. Remember, change is hard, even positive change, so give yourself time to unlearn old patterns.
What Are the Benefits of Self Knowledge?
Self-knowledge also gives us a better understanding of our boundaries and preferences. Research suggests that the more self-aware we are, the more successful we are likely to be. This has to do with choosing paths and goals that align with your values and beliefs.2 You can learn how to pause before an action or behavior and decide what you truly want.3
2 Types of Self-Awareness
There are two types of self-awareness:4
- Public self-awareness: This usually occurs in social situations. It comes up when we understand how we may be perceived by others. This type of self-awareness can pressure you to conform to societal standards, breeding anxiety and low self-esteem, especially if you are already struggling with an anxiety disorder.
- Private-self awareness: This usually occurs behind closed doors. It comes up when we’re alone and are noticing something new about ourselves. This can also blend with emotional self-awareness, which refers to a reckoning of our true emotions. This type of self-awareness is also something that can exacerbate low self-esteem and contribute to negative self-talk.
Self-Awareness vs. Self-Consciousness
There is a difference between self-awareness and self-consciousness in that self-consciousness is when you feel negatively about yourself as a result of something internal or external. Self-awareness is focused on understanding your true emotions deeper. However, self-consciousness does fall under the umbrella of being self-aware as you are aware that you are reacting to something that is causing stress.5
5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware
There are ways to work on increasing self-awareness including spending more time in nature, practicing mindfulness techniques, meditating, doing yoga, and keeping a journal.
Here are five ways to become more self-aware:
1. Nature Walks
There is a lot of research suggesting that spending time in nature helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues. When we’re at our best psychologically, that is when we’ll be able to best make the necessary steps to become self-aware.
Mindfulness practices embrace finding your inner voice and letting it guide you. This is the time when you are most self-aware and also more accepting of all the things in your life that truly bring you joy and peace.
Meditating can help you process emotions differently and react in a way that benefits your personal cause. This can also help you be more mindful and speak to yourself with kindness.
Yoga allows individuals to express emotions through their body. There are a lot of benefits to moving your body; however, yoga takes that one step further as the goal tends to be finding balance. When finding balance and an emotional equilibrium, it becomes easier to learn more about ourselves and become more self-aware.
Journaling allows individuals to write how and what they are feeling about stressors, positive experiences, goals, and hopes without any judgment. It keeps a record of their true intentions and values and gives the opportunity to reflect.
Self-awareness theory was first discussed in psychology in the late 1800s, when psychologist William James pointed out the difference between the subjective self and the objective self. Since then, psychology includes more information on the intersection of our brain and body and how our experiences are all relevant to understanding ourselves.
In 1972, two researchers, Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund, expanded on this idea and purported that individuals can be publicly self-aware or privately self-aware. They also believed that all individuals have a set of standards they compare themselves to when self-reflecting. Ultimately, Duval and Wicklund were able to establish that self-awareness was possible to do and to reach.6
Final Thoughts on Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is a key part of understanding oneself, but if excessive self-awareness is making you self-conscious and negatively impacting your life, talk to your doctor about seeing a therapist. You can also start your search for a therapist on an online directory where you can narrow your search based on expertise, cost, and location.