If you’ve undertaken any form of personal development, you’ve likely heard of self-awareness, the idea that having a better understanding of ourselves can lead to a more fulfilling and successful life.
But when it comes to the benefits of self-awareness, there’s so much more than simply being effective leaders and successful in our careers.
In fact, self-awareness has far-reaching benefits that touch every aspect of our lives.
But before we dive into the ways this important skill can improve our lives, we need to first understand what self-awareness means.
What Is Self-Awareness?
While many people have heard of self-awareness, not many people actually understand what being self-aware means.
In short, self-awareness is the ability to see ourselves clearly and objectively. It’s about understanding our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and recognizing how they impact the people around us.
Self-aware people are able to step outside themselves and view their lives from a different perspective. They’re able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and they’re able to use this knowledge to improve their lives.
While it might sound like a simple concept, self-awareness is actually quite difficult to achieve. In fact, most people only have a limited understanding of themselves.
In a series of surveys conducted by organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich, it was found that while 95% of people believed themselves to be self-aware, only 10-15% actually were.
This lack of self-awareness can have serious consequences in our lives. For example, people who are not self-aware are more likely to make impulsive decisions, engage in risky behavior, and have difficulty maintaining relationships.
Diving in a little deeper, generally speaking, there are two broad kinds of self-awareness:
Internal self-awareness is about understanding our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It’s about being aware of our triggers, our values, and our goals.
It’s about understanding how we react to stress, what makes us happy, and what our strengths and weaknesses are. This type of self-awareness allows us to have greater control over our lives.
External self-awareness is about understanding how other people see us. It’s about being aware of the impact we have on those around us.
It’s about understanding how our words and actions affect others, and it’s about being able to see ourselves from their perspective. This type of self-awareness is important for both our personal and professional relationships.
While both types of self-awareness are important, internal self-awareness is often seen as the foundation for external self-awareness. That’s because if we don’t understand ourselves, it’s difficult to understand how we’re affecting those around us.
Why Do We Need Self-Awareness?
Being self-aware is essential if you want to be a functional human being.
It’s like having a built-in guidance system that helps you navigate through life.
Without it, you would be constantly bumping into things, making bad decisions, and generally just flailing around like a fish out of water.
Self-awareness gives you the ability to step back and assess a situation before acting.
It allows you to see yourself objectively and make choices that are in line with your values and goals. It also enables you to understand how your actions impact others, which is an important part of living in a society.
So, why do we need self-awareness? Because it’s the key to helping us live our best lives.
21 Benefits Of Self-Awareness
We know we need self-awareness in our lives so we can grow, evolve, and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. But sometimes that’s a little too broad to motivate us to do the work and take the steps needed in order to actually be more self-aware.
These are some of the specific benefits of self-awareness that you’ll be able to see in your life, and hopefully knowing this will encourage you to make self-awareness a priority.
1 – Better Decision-Making Skills
Want to make better decisions? Become more self-aware!
When you’re aware of your own thoughts, emotions, and motivations, you’re able to make better decisions because you understand what’s driving your choices.
You’re also able to take a step back and look at a situation objectively, rather than being swayed by your initial reaction, and are more aware of your own limitations and blind spots.
This high level of self-awareness leads to better decision-making in everyday life.
2 – Greater Self-Confidence
When you know yourself well, you’re more likely to trust your instincts and have faith in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.
This confidence allows you to take risks (which are required for growth) and pursue your dreams without second-guessing yourself.
It also means you’re more likely to get out of your comfort zone, as well as be able to handle social situations a lot better.
And a huge benefit of self-awareness is that you’re less likely to be influenced by external factors, like social media, and more likely to be happy and confident in who you are, leading to better mental health.
3 – Stronger Relationships
Self-awareness enables you to see yourself clearly, warts and all. As a result, you’re able to communicate your needs and wants more effectively, setting the stage for healthier relationships.
Because you’re not constantly trying to prove yourself or hide your flaws, you’re able to be more present in your interactions and forge deeper connections with others and create more authentic relationships.
4 – Increased Happiness And Satisfaction
Self-aware people are generally happier and more satisfied with their lives because they accept themselves unconditionally.
They don’t waste time and energy on fruitless comparisons or trying to be someone they’re not—they just focus on being the best version of themselves.
5 – Manage Your Emotions Better
If you’re someone who tends to wear their heart on their sleeve, you’re likely familiar with the negative consequences that can come from letting your emotions get the best of you.
From saying things you regret in the heat of the moment to lashing out at loved ones, there are any number of ways in which uncontrolled emotions can cause problems in our lives.
However, by learning to become more aware of our emotions as they’re happening, we can gain better control over them and avoid some of these negative consequences.
6 – More Likely To Achieve Your Goals
One of the most common reasons people give up on their goals is because they lose motivation along the way.
Understandably so – accomplishing even small goals can require a lot of hard work and dedication.
However, people who are self-aware are more likely to remain motivated and achieve their goals because they have a clear understanding of what they’re working towards and why it’s important to them.
7 – More Resilient In The Face Of Adversity
No one gets through life without experiencing some setbacks and adversity.
However, self-aware people are generally more resilient in the face of these challenges because they’re able to take an honest look at their situation and develop a plan for moving forward.
Furthermore, because they have a strong sense of who they are, they’re less likely to be thrown off course by setbacks and more likely to stay true to themselves.
8 – Improved Physical Health
Self-awareness isn’t just good for your mental health—it’s also good for your physical health.
It’s easy to see how self-aware people are more likely to make healthy choices, such as exercising regularly and eating a nutritious diet, as they are more aware of the outcomes of their choices.
Furthermore, because they’re more in tune with their bodies, they’re more likely to notice early signs of illness and take steps to address them.
9 – More Productive
Self-aware people are typically more productive than those who are not because they understand their own strengths and weaknesses and know how to make the most of their time.
Furthermore, because they’re more in tune with their emotions, they’re better able to manage distractions and stay focused on their work.
10 – Less Likely To Procrastinate
Procrastination is a common problem, but it’s one that self-aware people are less likely to struggle with.
This is because they’re more likely to be aware of the reasons they’re procrastinating and be able to take steps to address them.
For example, if they’re procrastinating because they’re feeling overwhelmed, they may break their task down into smaller pieces to make it feel less daunting.
11 – Enhanced Creativity
Self-aware people are often more creative than those who are not because they’re better able to think outside the box.
This is because they’re more likely to be aware of their own biases and preconceptions and be able to challenge them.
As a result, they’re better able to come up with creative solutions to problems and generate new ideas.
12 – More Engaged In Life
Those who are self-aware are typically more engaged in their lives than those who are not because they have a better understanding of their own emotions and are more likely to be curious about the world around them.
Furthermore, they’re more likely to be aware of the impact their choices have on their lives and be careful about the decisions they make.
This increased engagement is also linked in with other benefits including stronger relationships, more life satisfaction, and more successful careers.
13 – Greater Career Success
Self-aware people are more likely to find career success than those who are not because they’re better able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and find jobs that suit them.
Because they are more in touch with their emotions, they are better able to handle stress and remain driven even if obstacles arise.
They also tend to be better at networking and developing relationships with others, which are important for career advancement.
14 – Improved Leadership Skills
You’ll often find people in leadership positions (particularly those who are great leaders) have a greater sense of self-awareness because they’re able to understand and motivate those around them.
They’re better able to take an honest look at their own strengths and weaknesses and use them to their advantage.
They’re also more likely to be aware of the impact their actions have on others and be careful about the decisions they make.
15 – More Adaptable
We all know of someone who tends to just go with the flow and nothing seems to be a problem for them.
And likewise, we all know someone who struggles to handle any changes and refuses to do anything any other way than their own (they’re likely the ones who say things like ‘we do it that way because it’s always been done that way’).
Self-aware people are more likely to be in the former category, as they are generally more adaptable than those who are not because they have a better understanding of their own emotions and are better able to roll with the punches.
This is because they understand that change is a natural part of life and that it’s often necessary for growth.
Also, because they’re more in tune with the world around them, they’re better able to adapt to changing circumstances and find creative solutions to problems.
Furthermore, they’re more likely to be aware of their own reactions to change and be able to manage them effectively.
16 – Greater Self-Control
People who are self-aware typically have greater self-control than those who are not because they’re better able to understand their own emotions and stay in control of them.
They know when they need to take a step back and calm down, and they’re better able to resist temptation.
They’re also they’re more likely to be aware of the potential consequences of their actions and be careful about the choices they make.
Those who practice self-awareness, and apply it to have greater self-control tend to be more mindful of their actions and the impact they have on others, which leads to more thoughtful decision-making.
17 – Better Communication Skills
Those who have greater self-awareness are also better communicators than those who are not because they’re more in touch with their own emotions and can therefore understand the emotions of others.
They know how to read people, and they’re better able to express themselves clearly.
They also understand that good communication also requires you to be a better listener, and they are open to hearing different perspectives from different people.
Furthermore, they’re typically more empathetic and understanding, which makes communication easier.
18 – Increased Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of and understand your own emotions and the emotions of others.
It’s often said that emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills a person can have, and it’s no surprise that self-aware people tend to be more emotionally intelligent than those who are not.
This is because they’re able to understand their own emotions and the emotions of others, and they know how to manage them effectively.
Furthermore, they’re better able to relate to others and build relationships.
19 – More Likely To Succeed As An Entrepreneur
Evidence supports that self-awareness is one of the most important traits for entrepreneurs, and can also be used to unlock entrepreneurial skills through constructivist learning (that is constructing knowledge rather than simply retaining information).
This makes sense when you think about it, as successful entrepreneurship requires a lot of self-reflection and awareness, as well as the ability to undertake many different roles, especially during a startup phase.
Entrepreneurs need to be able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and use them to their advantage. They also need to be aware of the potential risks and rewards of their actions, as well as the impact they have on others.
Furthermore, they need to be able to adapt to change and find creative solutions to problems. All of these things require a high degree of self-awareness.
19 – Deeper Spiritual Connections & Growth
Self-awareness can also lead to deeper spiritual connections.
This is because when you’re aware of your own thoughts and emotions, you’re able to be more present in the moment, which can help you to connect with a higher power.
Self-awareness is the foundation for all kinds of growth, as you simply cannot grow without being aware of where you are, your shortcomings, limitations, opportunities, and goals for where you want to go.
This is true for spirituality and religious growth too.
Furthermore, self-awareness can help you to understand yourself better, and this understanding can lead to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
20 – More Calm As Parents
One of the big lessons in parenting is that our reactions to our children are a reflection of ourselves, rather than their behaviors.
We often have an expectation of children to manage their emotions and keep their tantrums and emotional outbursts in check, when as adults, this is something many of us struggle to do ourselves.
By becoming more self-aware, you have a better understanding of your own emotions, your own triggers, and your own ability to keep them in check and not let them take over.
You’re also better able to understand your child’s emotions and needs, as well as respond to them in a way that is calm and constructive. This then models this behavior for your child and allows them to start to understand and become more self-aware too.
This can lead to a more positive parenting experience for both you and your child.
21 – Longer Life Expectancy
It could be argued that those who are more self-aware could potentially have a greater life expectancy due to their
- increased awareness of their physical body leading to seeking medical attention sooner when changes arise
- increased ability to adapt to change and therefore have less stressful reactions
- better relationships also lead to greater life expectancy
- evidence also shows a link between increased life satisfaction and increased life expectancy
- studies also show a link between spiritual and religious connections and a longer healthier life
In short, if you want to live longer, start making time to become more self-aware!
Tips To Become More Self-Aware
Now that we know some of the many benefits that come from being self-aware, let’s look at some ways we can become more self-aware.
1 – Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions. The first step to self-awareness is simply being aware of your own thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Ask yourself ‘How do I feel right now?’ and ‘What triggers these thoughts/emotions?’.
Be sure not to shy away from negative emotions – if you want to see positive change, you need to know negative emotions aren’t a bad thing. They are normal emotions and are essential to our own self-awareness.
2 – Keep a journal. Oftentimes writing is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head and can allow you to see patterns and connections you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
You can use journal prompts, or ask yourself questions like ‘What are my own values?’, ‘What makes me happy?’, ‘What kind of life do I want to live?’ and ‘What is important to me?’.
These questions can be a great starting point to understanding yourself on a deeper level while also taking a closer look at the kind of person and kind of life we want to live.
3 – Be present in the moment. While creating goals for the future, and reflecting on the past is important, it’s easy to miss the most important time of all – right here, right now.
At any given moment you are thinking about all the things that need to be done, all the things you didn’t manage to do, as well as the myriad of expectations you place on yourself. Your inner voice screams at you, and it’s no wonder you’re under so much stress.
The ability to switch this off, and just be, right here, right now, is one of the most important self-awareness skills.
Practice being present in the moment – it can be a lot more challenging than you may realize.
4 – Practice meditation or mindfulness. This is a great way to focus on the present moment and become more aware of your thoughts and emotions.
5 – Seek out feedback from others. We often have a blind spot when it comes to ourselves, so seeking feedback from others can help us to see ourselves in a different light.
Just be sure to choose wisely who you ask for feedback from, as not everyone will have your best interests at heart. Asking your family members, or a close friend can be a good start.
Plus, seeing ourselves from the perspective of others can be really interesting, but also very confronting, so make sure you ask someone you trust.
6 – Get out in nature. There’s something about nature that has a way of putting things into perspective and helping us to see the bigger picture. Spend time in nature, and see how it makes you feel.
7 – Be patient with yourself. Learning to become more self-aware takes time, so be patient and gentle with yourself as you grow and change.
Becoming more self-aware is a journey, not a destination. It’s something you can work on your entire life, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The most important thing is to just start.
8 – Spend time alone. This can be difficult for some people, but it’s important to spend time alone so that you can get to know yourself better. This is a great time to journal, meditate, or just spend time in nature.
9 – Be honest with yourself. This is probably the most important thing on this list. You can’t grow and change if you’re not honest with yourself about who you are and where you want to be.
10 – Seek professional help. If you’re struggling to become more self-aware, or if you’re dealing with a lot of trauma or pain, it’s okay to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to work through these things and to develop a greater sense of self-awareness.
No matter where you are on your journey, remember that there is no finish line. Becoming more self-aware is an ongoing process that you can work on for the rest of your life. Just keep moving forward, and be gentle with yourself along the way.
There are so many ways self-awareness can enrich your life and improve your wellbeing. The benefits are vast, and the list above is by no means exhaustive. If you’re looking for ways to improve your life, start with self-awareness. It’s the foundation upon which all other growth and change is built.
Above all remember, you are in charge of your life. What happens, how you react, and the life you lead is a result of the choices and decisions you make. Self-awareness gives you the power to make choices that are in alignment with who you are and what you want. It’s a tool that can help you to create the life you want to live.
So, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to start becoming more self-aware.