Who’s the most important person in the world for you to know? Not your boss, not your lover, not your soul mate. The answer is - YOU! Self-awareness is fundamental to personal growth, good relationships with others, and success in life. Self-awareness is no small thing. Lack of it can break you. Some spiritual traditions even teach that the biggest cause of suffering is not knowing what is going on inside yourself.
We all want to improve our relationships, our occupations, our income, our health, and our happiness. Unless we build our self-awareness, we risk failure before we even start.
What Is Self-awareness?
According to writer and expert Daniel Goleman, who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence, people who are self-aware have these abilities:
- Emotional Self-Awareness. Those who are self-aware recognize their emotions and the impact these emotions have on their lives.
- Accurate Self-Assessment. Self-aware people can accurately identify their strengths and limitations.
- Self-Confidence. People who are self-aware know their worth and capabilities.
Though we may think we know these things about ourselves, we often fail to see that emotional triggers are making us act defensively. We may overestimate our abilities and bite off more than we can chew. Or we may underestimate ourselves and assume that we are less capable than we are.
Some research on self-awareness suggests that although most people believe they are self-aware, only 10% to 15% of adults are truly self-aware.
Self-awareness and Your Personal Growth
Self-awareness won’t change your basic temperament. Knowing that you’re closer to the introvert than to the extrovert end of the spectrum won’t suddenly make you the life of the party.
But gaining more emotional self-awareness can help you understand why you feel the way you do in certain situations and suggest better ways to cope.
For example, do you feel anxious in a crowd, but your sales job requires frequent attendance at conventions and trade shows? It would be helpful, then, to understand the reasons for your anxiety before you try to learn the skills you need to cope with your emotions.
Or, you may decide that the stress associated with sales is too much and find a position more compatible with your personality type.
Becoming self-aware opens you to growth by making you aware of how your assumptions and thought patterns can limit you. Knowing who you are gives you the power to choose your perspective. Then, you can act consciously instead of just rolling with the punches life throws at you.
Self-awareness and Your Path to Success
Cultivating self-awareness gives you the insights you need to achieve success in all areas of your life. As a person who is self-aware, you will understand your own thoughts, beliefs, and emotions better. You will also become aware of how others perceive your attitude and responses and be able to make adjustments to avoid any problems or misconceptions.
Self-awareness and Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Knowing your strengths will let you use them to get through difficult situations. Understanding your weaknesses will help you pinpoint what you need to do to improve. Facing your strengths and weaknesses with maturity lets you take the bad with the good, forgive yourself, and move forward.
Self-awareness and Understanding How Others See You
Understanding how others see you is key to success. Unless you understand how you are perceived by others you risk having them misunderstand you or alienate them.
Self-awareness and Working with Others
People who are open to the contributions and ideas of others are not only better team players, they’re better leaders. Examining your own actions and thinking about what you personally need to change to solve a problem makes it less likely that you’ll point fingers at others. Self-awareness leads to taking responsibility.
Take the Next Step to Knowing Yourself
To grow personally and achieve success, the best place to start is self-awareness. Knowing your temperament and personality, your emotions, your strengths and weaknesses, and understanding how others see and react to you gives you a sense of who you are. It also shows you a vision of who you want to become.
Roy Faget, MA, is a counselor at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. He works with couples and individuals to help them understand their emotions and behaviors. If you would like to improve your self-awareness, contact Roy at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.