The best way to tell if ‘someone else‘ is lacking self-awareness, it to first identify ‘your own‘ self-awareness gaps.
Once you get past a mental block in your own life, it’s a lot easier to identify, understand, and empathize with someone else that’s experiencing that same type of blockage. They might behave in a certain way that you used to behave in, make certain excuses, or display certain body language that you’re all too familiar with.
If you’ve identified behavior patterns in your own life, then it will be much easier for you to recognize the same behavior and self-awareness patterns in other people (or lack their of).
If someone lacks self-awareness it may not be very obvious. You might just feel a ‘bad vibe‘ from that person and wonder why or feel unsure.
In this article, we’ll look at the latest science, get expert opinions, and explore tell-tale signs of those who lack self awareness.
Let’s Dive In.
What Defines Being Self Aware ?
Self-awareness is knowing your passion, strengths, weaknesses, understanding your emotions, your triggers, understanding how you react in certain situations, the effect you have on your surrounding environment, and the place you are with-in your environment.
Increased self-awareness gives you control over your life, your emotions, your re-actions, your behavior, and even your future.
Research has shown that 95% of people think they are self-aware, while in reality, only 10-15% are.
They don’t understand their deep rooted motivation behind their actions. based on my own personal experience I have found that those who are clearly lacking self-awareness are usually missing out on the bigger picture perspective.
Those who lack self-awareness often feel like “Life is happening to them” instead of “making life happen for them“.
Top 3 Reasons Why Most People Aren’t as Self-Aware as They Think
1. Ignorance –
Through no-fault of their own, knowing what you don’t know is difficult, and takes a higher level of self awareness. Often ignorance leads to an oversimplified understanding which can lead unsuspecting and unaware individuals to think they are more aware of how something works than they are in reality.
Self-awareness isn’t a class in school (although it probably should be), so it’s not something that the billions of us humans (on planet Earth) grew up with a conscious understanding of.
In order to increase your self-awareness, it’s important to understand that you probably don’t understand as much as you think you do unless you’re an expert at a subject
2. Ego –
Your ego is the perspective from which you see yourself. Those with large ego’s always see themselves as right (even when they’re wrong), and those with large ego’s always think highly of themselves (even if they don’t deserve it).
Your ego reflects how you think of yourself with-in reality, not how you actually are inside reality.
In other words, your ego can block your perception of reality, and prevent you from being self-aware. As is evident, ego and self-awareness are in direct contrast to one another.
Here’s a more Detailed Guide on Ego vs. Self Awareness
3. Fear –
From the perspective of Katie Krimer who is a licensed Clinical Social Worker (and studies human behavior everyday she’s on the job). Mrs. Krimer astutely points out that increasing self-awareness isn’t always easy, and can often be quite difficult, nerve racking, and for some people a little scary.
Many people avoid building self-awareness because it involves looking at yourself with 100% honesty. Sometimes being honest with yourself, and accepting reality for what it is, can invoke feelings of shame, guilt , and fear which can be difficult to handle. Fear can even control us unconsciously (with out us even being aware of it).
10 Signs of Someone Who Lacks Self-Awareness
Before you read any further or use this information to make quick judgements, it’s important to keep in mind and understand that it’s not (at least not always) someone’s fault that they lack self-awareness.
Having said that, we are always in control of our ability to increase our awareness, if we want to dedicate the time to expanding it.
1. They Make Excuses And Avoid Responsibility
People who lack self-awareness tend to give themselves praise when things go well, but blame others when things don’t go well. This is a huge RED FLAG for someone who is lacking basic self-awareness.
This type of behavior is called an ‘unconscious self-serving bias’. An unconscious self-serving bias is defined as a habit that someone develops, when they give credit to themself for good things, and blame others for the bad things.
Professor of Psychology, Dr. Art Markman, has been teaching psychology for over 30 years and Dr. Markman has published over 150 scholarly works. He understands better than most, that self-aware people know when they make mistakes. And they take full responsibility for their mistakes when they do make them. No Excuses!
Making excuses and blaming others for your failures is a way to shield a fragile ego. Worse off, by making excuses, you miss the opportunities to grow and learn from your failures.
2. Nothing Is Ever Their Fault – They Never Admit Mistakes
Never admitting mistakes goes hand-in-hand with making excuses. This is another tell-tale sign of a lack of self-awareness (and possibly a deep insecurity).
We all make mistakes, and being able to admit when you make them makes you human. Denying that you’ve made made a mistake or blaming someone else, makes you weak minded.
The team of experts at Psychology Today have found, through all their collective years of knowledge and experience, that some people have such a fragile ego, such brittle self-esteem, and such a weak “psychological construct,” that admitting they made a mistake (or that they were wrong at all) is fundamentally too threatening for their ego’s to handle.
This goes hand-in-hand with the first sign of making excuses. When someone can’t accept even minor mistakes, it suggests that they feel fear and inadequacy.
The fear of external judgment also makes them afraid of self-reflection and causes them to create an “alternate reality” that warps their perception, caters to their ego, and boosts their self-esteem.
3. Emotionally Unstable: Their Emotional Reactions Don’t Match The Situation
The more self-aware someone is, the more they are in control of their emotions.
If someone’s mood swings irregularly it’s a good sign for lacking self-awareness. Emotional outbursts indicate a lack of control and emotional instability.
There’s an old saying by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, that…
Those with high levels of self-awareness know, understand, and have complete control over their emotions. Having a lack of self-awareness with no emotional control will put your friendships, relationships, and career at risk.
Those who lack self-awareness often get angry easily and react to situations too quickly.
When you have an emotional sense of self-awareness, you become able to, not only identify your emotional triggers, but solve them.
4. Constantly Needing Other People’s Approval
Constantly needing approval from others to support your values and beliefs shows a lack of self-awareness, self-belief, and self-reliance.
Psychotherapist, Dr. Ilene S. Cohen has authored 5 books, she is praised by colleagues, and is very well respected amongst her peers. Dr. Cohen writes that when others’ ‘acceptance of you’, impacts how you make decisions, then you lose both self-awareness, and overall awareness of what it is that’s really important to you.
Having self-awareness means knowing what exactly what you want, so there is no need for other people’s approval.
However, self-aware DO leverage other people’s opinions and perspectives to improve themselves through critical feedback.
5. Having No Direction And Never Satisfied With Life: Having No Reason For Your Actions
Finding direction in life isn’t always easy! But, if you don’t truly know yourself, you won’t know what you want out of life.
Lacking self-awareness can mean lacking awareness of your goals and dreams.
For example, someone just ‘floating through life’, constantly distracted by doing what feels good ‘right now’, but not ultimately not getting any deep feelings of fulfillment.
When you get to know yourself, you’ll know where you want to be. Knowing what motivates you to get up each day to push forward.
In the context of the universe, the purpose of human life cannot be fully understood. If anything, Haman life seems infinitely small and meaningless within the scope and size of the known universe.
Lacking purpose can leave you feeling just plain ‘burnt-out’.
However, being self-aware (with-in the context of the 50-100 years of life that we have on this planet), enjoying happiness and having an individual sense of purpose makes living worthwhile.
When you look inwards and get to know yourself, you will find definite reasons for your actions.
Finding purpose will motivate you to pursue life with more passion and awareness.
6. You Get Defensive When Someone Gives You (critical) Feedback
Does negative feedback and critique make you angry? Do you find it hard to accept critiques?
This could be a sign of not wanting to accept reality. And not being as self-aware as you could be.
Defending yourself against critical feedback, rather than hearing it out objectively, is a sign of low self-awareness and immaturity.
Critical Feedback Helps You Grow.
Based on my own personal experience, taking criticism ‘with-out getting defensive’ is difficult. Getting defensive to criticism is a natural reaction, just like flinching when someone jumps out to scare you.
Career development expert Nicole Lindsay knows all too well the pros and cons of getting defensive to critical feedback. Writing to the audience at Daily Muse Inc., Lindsey agrees that in the heat of the moment, “many of us react with defensiveness and anger or—even worse—attack the person giving feedback.
But the truth is, “we need to get over it.”
There’s extreme value in constructive criticism, and what better way to get direct feedback and widen your perspective of awareness?
7. The Things Done To “Feel Better” Don’t Actually Help (From a Long-Term Perspective)
Dealing with negative emotions is difficult. This is why there’s multiple multi-billion industries built around the short term escaping and numbing of emotions.
For example, drinking, gambling, online shopping, scrolling on social media, and smoking cigarettes to name a few.
All of these behaviors are safe and normal in moderation (or with the intent of good clean fun). But in excess, and with the intent of numbing emotions, these same activities take on a completely different meaning.
If you’re not aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing, or you’re engaging in ‘emotional escaping’ activities, then it could become an unconscious addiction that escapes your conscious awareness.
With-out knowing, we often (unconsciously) revert into a ‘default mode’ of “”escapism”” when it comes to dealing with negative emotions.
By becoming self-aware of the reasons behind why you might partake in some of these behaviors, you may find yourself ‘more in control’ of your life than you realized you could be. And escape an addition that may be eating up your time and money.
8. Tending To Micromanage
Micromanaging is something we all do with-out being aware of it. Micro-managers like to micro-manage in order to hold onto control of a certain situation. People may micromanage for a number of reasons, such as fear, loss of control, inexperience, or insecurity.
Business managers are most susceptible to micromanaging because it’s their job to manage in the first place. BUT, husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers everywhere can also fall victim to micromanaging.
Medical experts need to make life saving decisions in seconds which is why the American Association of Nurses teaches that micromanaging can be deadly. Micromanaging kills collaborative empowerment and can have devastating effects on a team. Ironically, by releasing authoritative power, you actually strengthen your personal power.
9. They Can’t Laugh At Themself
If someone can’t laugh at themselves, it’s a serious sign of insecurity, emotional instability, and lacking self-awareness.
A 2018 study published in “Psychology and Individual Differences,” found that people who regularly poke fun at themselves exhibit greater levels of ‘emotional well-being’.
In an interview on NBC, professor, Dr.Ursula Beermann, explains that those who don’t take themselves too seriously can step back and look at themselves to better learn from their mistakes.
10. Constantly On The Phone
Spending too much time on the phone is becoming the new pandemic. And lack of awareness for ‘screen time’ is becoming more and more prevalent.
Are you bored, anxious, or nervous? Are you looking up a co-worker? Are you posting something to prove a point? Are you spying on a friend? Are you posting for attention? Are you ””phubbing”” (phone snubbing) by hiding behind your phone in public to avoid talking to anyone?
How conscious are you of your phone, internet and social media use?
Whatever your reason is, it’s important that you understand why you’re using social media.
Are you addicted to the internet? Here’s a guide we published to help you find out.
Be Mindful Of Why You’re Scrolling
As soon as you open an app on your phone, you’re bombarded with videos, Elon Musk tweets, and photos specifically tailored to match your ‘psychological profile’ as determined by billion dollar algorithms. With-in seconds, you forgot why you logged in to begin with and now you’re mindlessly scrolling.
Be mindful of why you’re scrolling and what your primary objective is.
[Here’s a complete GUIDE to Help You Use Social Media More Consciously]
Why It’s important to be Self-Aware
Self-awareness is a quality and skill in life, that will bring out the best in you, and enable a higher-level of happiness, fulfillment, and enjoyment in life.
Dr. Eurich points out that higher levels of self-awareness are associated with higher job satisfaction, higher relationship satisfaction, feelings of more personal and social control, higher levels of happiness, less anxiety, less stress, and lower levels of depression.
- Improves self-control, creativity, critical thinking, and self-esteem
- Facilitates decision-making
- Improves emotional stability
- Better Leadership Skills
- Increases confidence
Self-awareness is proven to enhances thinking, confidence, reasoning, behavior, and overall life. Self-awareness gives you a purpose to live with.
Conclusion: How To Tell If Someone Is Lacking Self-Awareness
There is nothing wrong with low self-awareness, as there is always room for improvement. The easiest way to tell if someone else is lacking self-awareness, is to improve your own self-awareness.
But if you’re getting ‘bad vibes’ from someone, and you’re not sure why, it certainly could mean that person is lacking in basic self-awareness skills. By identifying your own weaknesses, it makes it much easier to spot those same weaknesses in others.
[For a more detailed guide on becoming more self-aware Here’s an Article We Wrote w. an Additional 64 Tips on self-Awareness]
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