How to Improve Self-Awareness (With Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 6, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-awareness is an important skill to develop, as it allows you to evaluate yourself at a deeper level. You may also become more perceptive about the feelings of people around you. Understanding how to develop this skill can help you enrich your personal and professional relationships. In this article, we outline what self-awareness entails, discuss how to improve self-awareness, including tips for the process, and review the benefits of developing it more thoroughly.

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the ability to observe or perceive your feelings, impulses, and thoughts clearly and objectively through techniques such as introspection and self-reflection. Introspection is a process that entails looking inward to examine your thoughts and emotions. Self-reflection is examining, contemplating, and analyzing your thoughts, feelings, and actions. The ability to perceive oneself is based on the self-awareness theory developed by Shelley Duvall and Robert Wicklund (1972), which states that you're not your thoughts, but an entity observing your thoughts. People with a good sense of self-awareness typically exhibit these skills in their interactions:

  • Patience. Self-awareness can help you exhibit patience when facing conflicting situations. Patience enables you to avoid reacting on your initial impulse such as expressing frustrations with your team for mistakes.

  • Adaptability. If you can anticipate how you're likely to respond, you may be able to avoid a difficult scenario by calming yourself or taking several deep breaths.

  • Confidence. Confidence can enable you to accept and even embrace your shortcomings. Confidence allows you to be vulnerable without being defensive, which can help you develop stronger relationships.

  • Empathy. When you improve your self-awareness skills, you may improve your emotional intelligence and can become more empathetic to the feelings of people around you.

  • Mindfulness. Self-awareness helps you to become more cognizant of the current moment, allowing yourself to accept events as they occur rather than anticipating or fantasizing about the future.

  • Kindness. Kindness allows you to help others in their difficulties. Being self-aware enables you to be kind to others despite your personal challenges.

Read more: How to Improve Your Capacity to Work Independently

How to improve self-awareness

If you already have a good grasp on what being more self-aware is like, here are steps you can follow on how to improve self-awareness:

1. Look at yourself objectively

The first step towards improving your self-awareness is to learn how to accept yourself and develop strategies for future improvement. Take some time to think about activities or tasks you believe you're good at and what areas require improvement. It may also be useful to consider any significant achievements or outstanding accomplishments in your life and determine how they made an impact. Doing these exercises can allow you to trace what elements helped you achieve success. Think about the activities that made you happy before, and ask yourself what has changed or what has remained the same.

2. Consider how your actions affect others

Typically, people make decisions that are best suited to them before considering other people's needs. While self-awareness entails recognizing your emotions, it can also determine how you manage these emotions. Being more considerate of others can help you avoid difficult situations. For instance, if your coworker is perpetually asking for help, you may try to find out why and offer long-lasting solutions such as training them.

3. Practise meditation and other mindfulness habits

Meditation is a technique many people use to sharpen their focus and attention, develop acceptance of difficult emotions, and even alter their consciousness. Practising meditation can help you improve your attention. One of the most common meditation exercises focuses on breath control. You can enhance your awareness through regular moments of reflection. Performing activities that add serenity to your life can also help you focus on the present and improve your mindfulness and self-awareness.

4. Ask for feedback from people you trust

Understanding other people's perceptions of you can be an effective method of increasing self-awareness. An easier method of achieving this may be to request honest feedback on your performance. Encourage others to be honest about how they feel about you and consider their feedback. You can use this feedback to know how better to relate with others and to learn their personal boundaries in your interactions.

Tips to improve self-awareness

Here are some essential tips to help improve your self-awareness:

Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses

Self-awareness entails understanding your strengths and shortcomings and knowing how you can leverage them. Being aware of this means you can determine when to seek help and when you can handle things on your own. Knowing your vulnerabilities may also enable you to overcome difficult moments by triggering assistance mechanisms, such as speaking to a friend or seeking therapy.

Know your emotional triggers

Self-aware individuals can recognize their feelings as they occur. Instead of suppressing your emotions or denying their origin, you may resolve them before interacting with others. Taking control of your emotions can help you have healthy relationships with others and manage difficulties successfully.

Perform daily self-reflection

By performing self-reflection exercises daily, you can develop a deeper understanding of yourself. To introduce and sustain self-reflection in your schedule, you may begin by making a 15-minute commitment each day and increasing the duration gradually. It's also beneficial to find a quiet location where you can think clearly and with minimal distraction.

Practise journaling

Writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be a helpful tool you can use to improve your self-awareness because it can enable you to identify and accept your thoughts. You may be able to discover what you really want, what you value, or what doesn't work for you. You don't need to be a skilled writer to practise journaling. The primary purpose of writing in the journal is to be intentional about your personal feelings.

Read more: How to Perform a Self-Assessment

What are the benefits of self-awareness?

Here are some of the benefits you can obtain by developing your self-awareness:

Better relationships

It can be sometimes difficult to define what you want in a relationship or set reasonable boundaries. Becoming more self-aware is one of the most effective methods you can use to enhance meaningful connections in your relationships. It may also help empower you to improve or develop new interpersonal relationships at work and in your personal life.

Calmer mood

Your emotional state can help determine how you think. When you improve your self-awareness, you can realize that your thinking patterns and mood relate to each other. If you strive to remain calm in difficult situations, it may become easier for you to keep your emotions in balance.

Clarity of thought

To become self-aware, you can first think and reflect honestly on yourself and your actions. Thinking objectively allows you to separate yourself from your feelings. These activities may help enhance your critical thinking abilities, which can be useful in many other areas of your life.

Improved decision-making

Self-awareness allows you to better understand who you are and how others perceive you. This can help you make better judgments because it improves your critical thinking skills. When you develop a habit of making better decisions, you're likely to see an impact in most areas of your life.

Read more: Ways to Show Employers You're Self-Motivated on a Resume

Higher self-esteem

Another advantage of self-awareness is it can help improve your self-esteem. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can enable you to develop confidence in your abilities and to accept your shortcomings. You may develop a growth mentality that perceives failure as a learning experience, which can help you develop your skills further. When you set clear goals for yourself and work hard to achieve those goals, you may feel good when you achieve them, which also helps boost your self-esteem.

Develops ability to change habits

When you learn to evaluate the consequences of your actions, you can gain a greater capacity to change your behaviours. It can be much easier to change a habit if there's an underlying motivation for it. For instance, if you have a habit of postponing tasks repeatedly, you may strive to alter this behaviour by increasing your performance to obtain a reward.

Better self-control

Being able not to react to your feelings is also part of developing self-awareness. Self-control refers to the ability to differentiate oneself from others. Exercising better self-control can allow you to think beyond your initial reaction to a situation, rather than reacting first and regretting later.

More empathy toward others

One of the most significant advantages of self-awareness is that you can develop greater empathy for others. By doing this effectively, you may be able to develop better connections and relationships with others. Self-awareness can help you appreciate that everyone desires to be understood and have their emotions validated.

A better perspective on life

When you take time to look at all the elements of a problem, you may develop your critical thinking and creative abilities. Amassing these skills can help you gain a better understanding of life. This wealth of experience may also allow you to better believe in yourself and your team members.

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