Self-awareness Tips: Get to Know Yourself to Improve Your Life

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Self-awareness leads to more satisfying social interactions, higher achievement at work, and greater overall well-being. Self-aware people understand their thoughts and emotions and the effects of their interactions with others. They possess emotional intelligence, spend time in self-reflection, and seek to understand the biases that infiltrate their thoughts and actions.

Internal self-awareness involves deeply understanding our values, passions, and goals. Are we living in a way that propels us toward our goals? Are we following our moral compass or value system? Internal self-awareness helps us understand how our choices affect our lives.

External self-awareness is an understanding of how others view us and our interactions. You can possess high levels of internal self-awareness without having external self-awareness, and vice versa. The excellent news is self-awareness is a skill you can practice and improve. This blog explores the benefits of self-awareness and gives you some tips for cultivating it in your daily life.

Benefits of Self-Awareness

Aside from a better understanding of who you are and how you fit into the world, being self-aware can benefit your relationships, career, and the confidence with which you move through the world. As you increase your self-awareness, you’ll discover these other benefits.

cat looking in mirror seeing a lion
  • Higher levels of self-esteem because you know who you are and understand you have inherent worth and value.
  • Self-acceptance and self-compassion so that when you make a mistake or do something outside your values, you recognize it as a single occurrence and not indicative of your worth.
  • All that self-esteem and acceptance can increase your self-confidence as you move through the world. You’ll feel better in your skin, be more comfortable alone, and be ready to give your best to the people who matter. You’ll also experience better decision-making because you aren’t second-guessing yourself.
  • Increased empathy toward others because you understand how you fit into the world and how others react to you. This can improve your relationships and encourage greater intimacy.
  • Increased self-knowledge leads to a boost in cognition and creative energy that makes you more productive, better able to solve problems, and fully immerse yourself in your creative pursuits.
  • People with a well-defined sense of self are less likely to lie, cheat, or steal because they possess greater self-control and operate in ways that align with their value system.
  • Knowing yourself can lead to increased work success for various reasons. First, you’re less likely to stay in positions where your worth isn’t valued, more likely to find creative solutions to problems, and more likely to align your professional life with your values and goals. When you’re working in alignment with your beliefs, you are less stressed, more productive, and more energized by your work.
  • As your level of self-awareness increases, you’ll experience fewer intrusive negative thoughts. That doesn’t mean you’ll only think positive things about yourself, but when a negative thought pops up, you’ll identify it as such, compare it to what you know about yourself, and quickly dismiss it as untrue.
  • Self-aware people are more in touch with their own emotions and the emotions of others. That doesn’t mean they let negative feelings control their day. Self-awareness allows you to observe feelings as signals to check in with yourself and figure out what you need to do to improve a situation. For example, feeling frustrated by a colleague’s comment may prompt you to have a meaningful conversation to enhance your workplace culture.
  • When you’re self-aware, you will invite honest feedback from those you work with, live with, and love about your behavior and how you show up for them. This feedback will help you improve your

Tips For Developing Self-Awareness

Are you interested in becoming more self-aware? Here are our best tips for getting to know yourself better.

Get Comfortable With Solitude

person staring at sunset

With the structure of our lives, we are rarely alone. Even if you don’t have children clamoring for your attention or a partner excited to hear about your day, you carry a device with you most of the time. Connection is meaningful and valuable, but so is solitude.

To develop self-awareness, you need to be intentional about spending time with your thoughts and emotions each day. This practice may require you to carve out time for solitude, especially if you lead a busy life. You’ll need to eliminate digital distractions and get quiet to turn your gaze inward. Try setting aside the same time every day for this practice. Observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them or yourself for having them is essential.

Practice Mindfulness

There are always a million things to think about that make mindfulness difficult. You find yourself thinking about the report due at work while running on the treadmill, worrying over the fight with your spouse during your commute, and your mind drifts to your weekend plans or to-do list as you try to relax in the evenings. Our brains are so tired, but at the end of the day, we search for distraction with TV or mindless scrolling on social media instead of focusing our attention.

Mindfulness involves paying attention to yourself and your surroundings instead of letting your mind wander. Self-aware people pay attention to how their body feels, how they interact with others and the space around them, and how others react to them. If you’re new to mindfulness, you may find it easiest to start with a guided meditation that focuses your attention on how you feel. Mindfulness can help you identify thoughts and feelings but stop ruminating on them or letting them control you.

You may find it helpful to start practicing mindfulness when walking, running or enjoying time outside. Rather than letting your thoughts wander, practice noticing the beauty around you. Eating is another opportunity to focus entirely on the sensations, smells, and tastes of the food and your surroundings instead of indulging the hamster wheel of your thoughts.

Create a Journaling Habit

the letters of self awareness next to a cup of coffee

A daily journaling habit can help you learn about yourself and keep you involved in constant personal development. There’s no wrong way to journal. Some people write words on a page and then destroy it, others keep decades of journals they’ll never read, and others use a notebook to collect words, pictures, and drawings that help them process their thoughts and feelings.

In addition to accepting your own emotions and thoughts, journaling can help you.

  • Discover what you want.
  • Uncover your core values.
  • Find what works for you in a professional or personal capacity.
  • Identify what you don’t want from life, career, or relationships.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is essential for self-awareness. You need to understand how others respond to you and affect them; active listening is a great way to do that. When speaking to you, pay attention to their body language, facial expressions, and the words they choose. See if you can observe their emotions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to improve your attentive listening skills.

  • What are the person’s pauses, laughs, silences, body language, tone of voice, and other background clues trying to tell you?
  • What’s the underlying, perhaps hidden, theme here? 
  • How does what I’m hearing fit with other conversations with this person?
  • What can I learn from what they have to say?

Ask For Feedback

Asking for feedback is possibly one of the most challenging pieces of self-awareness because it requires you to be vulnerable and open to criticism about your behavior. Start with a best friend or partner – someone you trust implicitly and ask them for feedback on how you show up in the relationship or about something you’ve worked on. Try something like, “I’ve recently started working on being more attentive when you talk. How am I doing with that lately?” and listen to all they have to say. This practice can improve your external self-awareness.

Get Help Developing Self-Awareness

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Working with a therapist can help increase your level of self-awareness by giving you tools for self-reflection and helping you feel comfortable inviting feedback from others. You can also learn tools for self-compassion, reducing negative thoughts, and practicing mindfulness.At SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, our practitioners are skilled in helping clients develop a sense of self and learn to be compassionate, empathetic people who achieve goals. Reach out today to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors to start building self-awareness.

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