How do you know if you’re self-aware?
If you’re not self-aware, then you might think that you are self-aware,(even though you’re not self-aware enough to know that you’re not self-aware).
Studies have shown for years, including a recent study from Harvard, that while most people think they are self-aware, only 10-15% of people are actually ‘self-aware’.
In this article we’ll look at expert opinions and a wide range of diverse perspectives on self-awareness.
Let’s Dive In.
Why We Tend To Think We’re Self-Aware — When We’re Not
A famous study, published by Science Direct, found that 88% of Americans thought they were ‘above average’ drivers. If everyone was truly self-aware, then only 50% should feel that they’re ‘above-average’ drivers.
According to psychology professor, Dr.Tara Well, “Social scientists have discovered that people often grossly overestimate their level of self-awareness,”
“Almost nobody is self-aware”, says psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich.
The science is there, and most experts agree that most people just aren’t as self-aware as they think they are.
Clinical psychologist Dr. John Duffy agrees, saying that “far too often, we’re wholly unaware of the emotional state that we are currently in, and to the degree of which our emotional state influences our behaviors and our thought process.
Dr. John also says that “The degree to which we can manage our emotional states, is the same degree that we can manage all other elements of our lives.
The Self-Awareness Gap –
The self-awareness gap is the space between how aware we think we are, verse how aware we actually are.
The larger your self-awareness gap becomes, the more unstable, anxious, stressed, and likely to become depressed you’ll become.
When it comes to business, the self-awareness gap is also a huge factor for those is management positions. Recent studies have found that “The More Successful We Are, the Less Self-Aware We Become”
Top 3 Reasons Why Most People Aren’t Self-Aware –
1. Ignorance –
Through no-fault of your own. Self-awareness isn’t a class in school (it should be), so it’s not something that billions of us humans (on planet Earth) grew up with a conscious understanding of.
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 always think highly of themselves (even if they don’t deserve it).
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.
3. Fear –
Katie Krimer is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and she studies human behavior everyday she’s on the job. Krimer points out that self-awareness isn’t always easy, and can often be difficult, nerve racking, and indeed scary.
Many people avoid building self-awareness because it involves looking at yourself with 100% honesty, and 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.
What Does ‘Self-Awareness’ Actually Mean ?
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-aware as having :”knowledge and understanding of your own character”
And Oxford defines character, as “all the qualities and features that make you different from others”
In other words, self-awareness is the ‘degree’ to which you are consciously ‘aware and accepting’ of what makes you different from others.
Self-awareness also focuses on your ability to recognize (and manage) your emotional state and the effect it has on both you , and the world around you.
The 3 States Of Self-Awareness –
1. Internal (Private) Self-Awareness –
Internal self-awareness is a basic level of awareness when you understand that you’re separate from your environment.
According to the Harvard Business Review, internal self-awareness is based on how well we can see our ourselves objectively and understand our impact on our environment. This includes our awareness of our own values, passions, reactions, feelings, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, and impact on others.
2. External (Public) Self-Awareness –
External, or public, self-awareness is your level of awareness of how (external) people perceive you. External awareness doesn’t usually develop until around age 5.
Harvard research shows that people who know how others see them, are more skilled at leading with empathy, and leveraging multiple perspectives.
3. Introspective (Higher-Level) Self-Awareness –
Introspective self-awareness is similar to internal self-awareness, but takes it a step further. For example, dogs have some level of internal self-awareness, but little to no introspective self-awareness.
Introspection is responsible for our ability to reflect to understand feelings, desires, and beliefs in more depth.
What Are the Benefits Of Self-Awareness ?
Based on my own personal experience, I’d much rather be aware of the ugly truth, as opposed to being unaware and ignorant.
In my opinion the benefits of being more self-aware are not quantifiable. The benefits of increasing self-awareness are far-reaching, and span every aspect of your 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, and less anxiety, stress, and depression.
The Goal Of Self-Awareness Is Self-Acceptance – 10 Benefits of Self-Acceptance
Once you accept reality for what it is, then you can decide how you want to react to it.
According to clinical researcher and licensed psychotherapist Rachel Fintzy Woods, M.A., LMFT, here’s some of the top benefits of self-acceptance.
- Acceptance helps us become better problem solvers
- Acceptance supports our emotional and physical health
- Acceptance contributes to healthier relationships
- Accepting our feelings helps us to know ourselves better
- Acceptance reduces the chances that feelings will resurface at a later time
- Acceptance is a form of forgiveness
- Acceptance frees us from analysis paralysis
- Acceptance contributes to inner peace
- Acceptance strengthens us psychologically
- Acceptance is an assertion of control, in that we are choosing our attitude and our actions
9 Indicators That You’re Not Very Self-Aware
(Signs Of Low Self-Awareness)
Understand it’s not your fault that you lack self-awareness.
- Your Emotional Reaction Doesn’t Match The Situation
- You Get Defensive When Someone Gives You (critical) Feedback
- You Repeat Negative Emotional Patterns
- The Things You Do To “Make Yourself Feel Better” Don’t Actually Make You Feel Better From a Long-Term Perspective
- You Often Regret The Decisions You Make In Everyday Life
- Nothing Is Ever Your Fault
- You Tend To Micromanage
- You Say Things You Don’t Mean
- You Can’t Laugh At Yourself
[Here’s a Deep Dive Into Telling If Someone Else is Lacking Self-Awareness]
25 Signs That You’re Self-Aware –
(Habits of Highly Self-Aware People)
- You Spend Time Thinking About Your Thought Processes
- You Understand the Importance of Taking Time to Reflect
- You Practice the Skill of Mindfulness
- You Understand There’s So Much That You Don’t Know
- You Admit Your Mistakes And Are Able to Turn Them Into Life Lessons
- You Intentionally Look At Things From Different Perspectives And Accept Others’ Opinions
- You Understand Your Emotions And Openly Express Your Feelings
- You’re Not Afraid to Ask “”Dumb”” Questions
- You’re Not Afraid To Apologize And You Know How
- You Are Aware Of Your Strengths And Weaknesses
- You Take Criticism Without Getting Defensive
- You’re Rarely Ever Provoked To the Point of Anger, And Usually React In A Calm and Sensible Manner
- You Don’t Numb Your Emotions, Or Try To Escape From Them
- You Have A Deep Understanding Of How You Best Learn and Absorb Information
- You Consciously Ask For Feedback (And Take It Well)
- You Don’t Expect Life To Give You Any Special Privileges
- You’ve Grown Wiser From Your Own Past Failures
- You Know You’re More Than Your Thoughts
- You Know You’re More Than Your Feelings
- You Live By What’s Important To You
- You Know How To Prioritize Putting Yourself First
- You Understand That You Can’t Become Who You Want To Be, If You Don’t Learn From Who You’ve Been
- You Know There’s Only One Common Denominator In All Of Your Relationships
- You Listen More Than You Talk
- You Consciously Seek Out and Look For Emotional Blind-spots
[Check out a more detailed FULL GUIDE on Signs That You’re Becoming More Self-Aware (Habits of Highly Self-Aware People) Here]
20 Tips To Become A More Self-Aware Person
(Cultivate You Self-Awareness Skills)
- Ask “What?” Instead Of “Why?”
- Use Your Brain – Exercise Common Sense
- Ask Others About Their Perception Of You
- Practice Mindfulness
- Set Goals for The Future
- Stop Expecting Special Chances In Life. Create Them
- Start Checking In With Yourself
– ask yourself “if you’re in the present moment”
– ask yourself “if you’re in control of your emotions”
- Make An Effort to Always Keep Learning
- Consciously Try To Trade ‘Screen Time’ For ‘People Time’
- Spend Time Looking In The Mirror
- Let Your “Emotional Walls” Down
- Tune Into Your Feelings, Accept Them, And Let Them Go
- Spend Alone Time With Yourself (Preferably In Nature)
- Take Steps And Make An Effort To Become A Better Listener
- Take Full Responsibility For Exactly Where You Are In Life
- Understand the Difference Between Kind and Nice
- Focus Less About “How To” And More About “What’s Stopping Me”
- Get A Handle On Your Emotional Bullshit (to be ‘frank’)
- Ask The Tough Questions That Nobody Else Will
- Go To Therapy – And Embrace It – No Shame
Self-Awareness vs. Self-Consciousness
Consciousness and awareness are “two peas in a pod”. Consciousness is defined as “the state of being aware”. While awareness, is defined as “the level of understanding that something is happening”.
Awareness is a measurement of consciousness.
Self-consciousness however, is something different. Self-awareness is , as it sounds, your awareness of yourself, but being self-conscious is an ‘over-awareness’ or exaggerated negative self-perception of yourself.
Being self-conscious can actually be a sign of ‘lacking awareness’. Self-consciousness is often associated with shyness and embarrassment, in which case a lack of positive self-awareness can turn into low-esteem.
Final Thoughts: How Self Aware Are You ?
Self-awareness is one of those things (like strength) where even if you are self-aware, you can always be more self-aware (just like you can always get stronger).
Self-awareness isn’t something that you do, become self-aware, and then you’re done. Being self-aware is a perspective shift and a lifestyle.
For me personally, becoming more self-aware is like constantly improving your vision. Once you improve it a little bit, everything you see looks a bit different. After you’ve worked on self-awareness for a while, things that you thought you saw clearly suddenly look different, revealing a new world of truth.
While most people think they’re self-aware, on 10-15% actually are. Are you currently implementing any of these tips above top make sure that you’re in the 10-15%?
Let us know what you do to cultivate self-awareness or if there’s any tips we missed that should be included.
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