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What is Self Awareness?

Self awareness is a fundamental concept that plays a crucial role in various aspects of our lives. It involves the recognition and understanding of oneself, including our thoughts, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and behaviours. 

Understanding the Concept of Self Awareness

The Psychological Perspective 

In psychology, self awareness refers specifically to our ability to actively acknowledge their mental states, including their beliefs, wants, and intentions. This can enable us to have a clearer understanding of our actions and motivations, and can contribute to our overall self-development.

Self awareness also plays a crucial role in our psychological wellbeing. By gaining awareness of our thoughts and emotions, we can get an insight into the underlying factors that influence our behaviours. This awareness allows us to make conscious choices and decisions, rather than being driven solely by our unconscious brain. 

Furthermore, self awareness also plays a crucial part in helping us to develop empathy and an understanding of others. When we are aware of our own emotions and experiences – and what they feel like – we become more similarly attuned to the emotions and experiences of those around us. This enhances our ability to relate and form meaningful connections to others.

The Philosophical Perspective 

Philosophers take a slightly different perspective on self awareness. Instead, their idea of self awareness is the way by which people reflect on questions regarding our existence, consciousness, and identity. Philosophers have particularly focused on the "self" and what it means to truly know oneself, where we truly have self-consciousness, and the nature of the mind.

One of the key philosophical debates surrounding self awareness is the concept of the "self" as a continuous entity. Some philosophers argue that our sense of self is an illusion, as our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs are constantly changing, and therefore, so are "we". They propose that there is no fixed "self" but rather a collection of ever-changing experiences.

However, others do belief in a continuous self. They argue that there is an essence that remains constant throughout our entire lives. They believe that self awareness allows us to tap into this essence and gain a deeper understanding of who we truly are.

Other philosophers have also written about the relationships between the self and the body. They explore the connection between our conscious experiences and the physical processes happening in our brains, pondering whether self awareness is solely a product of connections and neural activity, or if it is something that extends beyond the physical realm; perhaps something we cannot comprehend (as yet). 

The Importance of Self Awareness

Self-awareness is a fundamental aspect of personal growth and self-improvement. It goes beyond simply knowing who we are; it is understanding our emotions, motivations, and behaviours. 

Self-awareness can also help us develop healthier habits. When we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we can identify areas in our lives that require improvement. This self-reflection allows us to set realistic goals and work towards achieving them. Whether it's improving our physical health, enhancing our emotional wellbeing, or honing our skills, self-awareness acts as a compass guiding us towards personal fulfilment.

Self Awareness and Personal Growth

Self-awareness is a catalyst for personal growth. It helps us to recognise patterns and behaviours that could be harmful to our development. By acknowledging our fears, insecurities, and limiting beliefs, we can confront and overcome them. We can then begin to step out of our comfort zones and drive our personal and professional lives forward.

Moreover, self-awareness helps us cultivate a growth mindset. Instead of viewing failures as setbacks, we see them as learning experiences. Through self-reflection, we can identify the lessons to be learned from our mistakes and use them as stepping stones towards personal and professional development.

Self Awareness and Relationships

Self-awareness not only impacts our individual growth but also plays a crucial role in our interactions with others. 

Only by being aware of our needs, desires, and boundaries, can we then communicate them to others. This open and honest communication fosters understanding and respect within relationships. It allows us to establish healthy boundaries and ensure that our needs are met, while also considering the needs of others.

Furthermore, self-awareness helps us become more empathetic and compassionate towards others. When we understand our own emotions and motivations, we are better able to empathise with the experiences and perspectives of those around us. This empathy strengthens our connections with others and promotes a sense of harmony in our relationships.

Components of Self Awareness

Self awareness is incredibly multifaceted. Understanding its core components can help us develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and enhance our personal growth. 

Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness means to be in tune with our emotions and how they impact our thoughts and actions. This helps us to navigate challenging situations, communicate effectively, and cultivate empathy towards others.

When we are emotionally aware, we are able to recognise and name our emotions, whether they are positive or negative. This awareness allows us to understand the triggers that elicit certain emotions and how they influence our behaviour. By being conscious of our emotional state, we can respond more effectively to situations, manage stress, and build healthier relationships.

Accurate Self-Perception

Having an accurate perception of oneself is essential for self awareness. It involves recognizing both our strengths and weaknesses without bias or self-deception. This self-assessment enables personal growth and guides us towards making better choices in various aspects of life.

Accurate self-perception requires us to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge our true abilities, qualities, and limitations. It helps us understand our values, beliefs, and motivations, which in turn allows us to align our actions with our authentic selves. By developing a realistic view of who we are, we can cultivate self-acceptance and make meaningful changes to improve our lives.

Recognising Strengths and Weaknesses

Recognising our strengths and weaknesses is crucial in maximising our potential. By acknowledging areas where we excel and areas where we can improve, we can make informed decisions, set realistic goals, and seek opportunities for growth.

Identifying our strengths enables us to leverage them to our advantage, whether it's in our personal relationships, career, or hobbies. It allows us to build on our existing skills and talents, fostering a sense of confidence and accomplishment.

On the other hand, recognising our weaknesses helps us identify areas where we may need additional support or development. It encourages us to seek opportunities for learning and improvement, whether through education, training, or seeking guidance from others. By addressing our weaknesses, we can overcome obstacles and reach our full potential.

Overall, self awareness is a lifelong journey of self-discovery and growth. By cultivating emotional awareness, accurate self-perception, and recognising our strengths and weaknesses, we can develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and navigate life with greater clarity and purpose.

Developing Self Awareness

Mindfulness and Self Awareness

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and present moment awareness, can significantly enhance self awareness. By practicing mindfulness, we can observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our experiences.

Self Reflection Techniques

Self reflection means to take the time to introspectively examine our thoughts, actions, and experiences. This can lead to valuable insights and promote personal growth. Writing in a journal, seeking solitude, meditating, or engaging in deep conversations with oneself can help to facilitate this process.

The Role of Feedback

Feedback from others can provide insights into our blind spots and areas for improvement. Seeking feedback from trusted individuals allows us to gain a different perspective on ourselves and our behaviours, aiding in the development of self awareness. You should seek to get feedback from a range of people to ensure you can minimise the effects of bias. 

Challenges in Achieving Self Awareness

Overcoming Self-Deception

One of the biggest challenges in attaining self awareness is overcoming self-deception. It is common for individuals to have a distorted perception of themselves, either due to self-protective mechanisms or societal influences. 

Dealing with Cognitive Biases

Our minds are coded with various cognitive biases that can hinder our ability to see ourselves objectively. Biases such as confirmation bias and self-serving bias can cloud our self perception. 


In sum, self awareness is a multidimensional concept that encompasses psychological, philosophical, and practical aspects of our lives. By understanding and developing self awareness, we can facilitate personal growth, more meaningful relationships, and a deeper understanding of ourselves.