Why we need self-awareness

Whilst in a meeting this week, we had a discussion about self-awareness that I wanted to share, because it highlights a set of skills that are paramount to our well-being.

Self-awareness refers to our ability to have “conscious knowledge of our own character and feelings”. This includes being aware of our feelings, and what drives them. Our motives and desires, and what triggers us, as well as our own character and behaviours.

Self-awareness is a key component to our satisfaction in life, our quality of relationships and personal development, as well as our mental health and well-being, and our ability to reach our goal.

Self-awareness has two parts:

  1. Internal awareness – The understanding one’s own thoughts, emotions, and values – The ability to be able to examine your own thoughts and feelings, and using them to be aware of our actions, traits of behaviours and reactions. It includes our ability to see our strengths and weaknesses and our understanding of our personality traits and character.
  2. External awareness – The understanding how others perceive us – It is correlated with how we aware we are of how others perceive and view us. This can be collectively, over time, or being able to read the room and recognise our impact on others, such as if we are triggering others, or if someone is interested in what we say etc

Having high levels of self-awareness is associated with behaviours such as:

  • Being empathetic
  • Being more resilient
  • Having better emotional regulation
  • Stronger relationships and friendships
  • Displaying curiosity in place of judgement
  • Being able to recognise own feelings and respond to them
  • Trusting others
  • Taking responsibility for own actions
  • Taking accountability when they want to achieve something
  • Being able to recognise their mistakes, apologise for them and correct the behaviour
  • Being aware of their weaknesses
  • Setting goals and working towards them
  • They seek to understand others
  • Being able to read a situation and adapt their behaviour appropriately
  • Recognising when there is a greater need to listen than talk
  • Having a strong sense of how others perceive you
  • Using feedback to develop self
  • Learning from the past and able to take the lessons from it

Whilst poor self-awareness is associated with:

  • Blaming others for your own feelings
  • Taking on a role of being a victim
  • Being unable to recognise their mistakes (or unwilling to)
  • Cannot take responsibility
  • Expects others to do things for them
  • Unable to read the room
  • Unable to recognise their impact on others
  • Thinking they are better than others
  • Criticising others
  • Struggling to let others be the centre of attention
  • Controlling others
  • Impulsive behaviours
  • Unwilling to take on board feedback
  • Their feelings control them
  • Holding a grudge and being unable to let go of the past

Self-awareness is a skill learnt over time, and with consistent practice. We can begin to develop our self-awareness further by:

1 – Being more curious about WHO we are, WHY we react in certain ways or HOW we feel

2 – Reflecting back on previous experiences and considering what we learnt from them and the lessons we gained that we can use moving forward

3 – Using feedback – being more curious about feedback that we receive and how this can help us to develop

4 – Developing our emotional literacy skills to be more aware of the sensations that we are experiencing and what they can be telling us

5 – Being more grateful, rather than jumping to conclusions or judgements, consider what you have to be grateful for

Want to learn more? 

If you want to learn more about mental health you can join our Level 4 training (here) or keep an eye out for our new specialist online courses coming soon (here).

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Further help 

For more articles about mental health visit – ARTICLES 

To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – COURSES 

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –RESOURCES 

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