Self Awareness

Video: Weight of water

#Def: self-awareness

noun: conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.

“the process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness”

Video 1: What is Self Awareness


Video 2: Consider these thoughts before reading on

Self Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

We might quickly assume that we are self-aware, but it is helpful to have a relative scale of awareness. If you have ever been in an auto accident you may have experienced everything happening in slow motion and noticed details of your thought process and the event. This is a state of heightened awareness. With practice, we can learn to engage these types of heightened states and see new opportunities for interpretations in our thoughts, emotions, and conversations. Having awareness creates the opportunity to make changes in behaviour and beliefs.

The psychological study of self-awareness can be first traced back to 1972 when Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund’s developed the theory of self-awareness.

They proposed that:

“when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behaviour to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.”

In essence, they consider self-awareness as a major mechanism of self-control)

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, has proposed a more popular definition of self-awareness in his best-selling book “Emotional Intelligence”, as “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions”.

This definition places more emphasis on the ability to monitor our inner world, our thoughts and emotions as they arise.

It is important to recognise that self-awareness is not only about what we notice about ourselves but also how we notice and monitor our inner world.

The non-judgmental quality is an essential component to self-awareness. As we notice what’s happening inside us, we acknowledge and accept them as the inevitable part of being human, rather than giving ourselves a hard time about it (hint: if you have ever said to yourself “I should/shouldn’t have done it”, then you know what I mean).

Furthermore, self-awareness goes beyond merely accumulating knowledge about ourselves. It is also about paying attention to our inner state with a beginner’s mind and an open heart. Our mind is extremely skilful at storing information about how we react to a certain event to form a blueprint of our emotional life. Such information often ends up conditioning our mind to react in a certain way as we encounter a similar event in the future. Self-awareness allows us to be conscious of this conditioning and preconceptions of the mind, which can form the foundation of freeing the mind from it.

Video 3: We cant all be brilliant at everything


Self-awareness is the key cornerstone of emotional intelligence, according to Daniel Goleman. The ability to monitor our emotions and thoughts from moment to moment is key to understanding ourselves better, being at peace with who we are and proactively managing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

In addition, self-aware people tend to act consciously rather than react passively, to be in good psychological health and to have a positive outlook on life. They also have greater depth of life experience and are more likely to be more compassionate to themselves and others.

A number of researchers have shown self-awareness as a crucial trait

So if self-awareness is so important, why aren’t we more self-aware?

Well, a most obvious answer is that most of the time we are simply “not there” to observe ourselves. In other words, we are not there to pay attention to what’s going on inside or around us.

Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert found that almost half of the time we operate on “automatic pilot or unconscious of what we are doing or how we feel, as our mind wanders to somewhere else other than here and now.

In addition to the constant mind-wandering, the various cognitive bias also affects our ability to have a more accurate understanding of ourselves.

For example, confirmation bias can trick us into searching for or interpreting information in a way that confirms our pre-conception of something (you know that feeling when you’ve accepted a job offer but are still looking for extra assurance that it is the perfect job for you).

Furthermore, the lack of the willingness to seek feedback could also work against us if we want to have a more holistic view of ourselves through the eyes of others.

Video 4: How we remember ourselves.

What further complicates the picture is the different aspects of the self we relate to in everyday life. In his TED Talk, Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winner for his contribution to behavioural science, talked about the difference between the experiencing self and the remembering self, and how it can affect our decision-making.He explains how we feel about the experience at the moment and how we remember the experience can be very different and share only 50% correlation. And this difference can have a significant impact on the story we are telling ourselves, the way we relate to self and others, and the decision we make, even though we may not notice the difference most of the time.


  1. Create some space for yourself.When you are in a dark room without windows, it is fairly difficult to see things clearly. The space you create for yourself is that crack on the wall where you allow light to come through. Leave yourself some time and space every day – perhaps first thing in the morning or half an hour before sleep when you stay away from the digital distractions and spend some time with yourself, reading, writing, meditating, and connecting with yourself.
  2. Keep a journal. Writing not only helps us process our thoughts but also makes us feel connected and at peace with ourselves. Writing can also create more headspace as you let your thoughts flow out onto paper. Research shows that writing down things we are grateful for or even things we are struggling with helps increase happiness and satisfaction.  You can also use the journal to record your inner state. Try this at home –choose a half day on a weekend, pay close attention to your inner world – what you are feeling, what you are saying to yourself, and make a note of what you observe every hour. You may be surprised at what you write down!
  3. Practice being a good listener. Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is about being present and paying attention to other people’s emotions, body movement and language. It is about showing empathy and understanding without constantly evaluating or judging. When you become a good listener, you will also be better at listening to your own inner voice and become the best friend of yourself.
  4. Gain different perspectives. Ask for feedback. Sometimes we can be too afraid to ask what others think of us – yes sometimes the feedback may be biased or even dishonest but you will be able to differentiate them from real, genuine and balanced feedback as you learn more about yourself and others. Research has shown conducting 360-degree feedback in the workplace is a useful tool to improve managers’ self-awareness. We all have blind spots, so it is helpful to gain a different perspective to see a fuller picture of ourselves.
  5. Perform daily self-reflection. In order to have self-awareness, you must do self-reflection. This requires setting aside some time, hopefully, every day, to honestly look at yourself as a person and a leader. Committing to this practice can help you improve. In our demanding business world, daily self-reflection is easier said than done. There is always pressure to do more with less, and an endless flow of information through our portable technology. Because it takes time to self-reflect, start by setting aside just 15 minutes each day. Self-reflection is most effective when you use a journal and write down your thoughts. It’s also best to find a quiet place to think
  6. Look at yourself objectively. Trying to see yourself as you really are can be a very difficult process, but if you make the right efforts, getting to know your real self can be extremely rewarding. When you are able to see yourself objectively, you can learn how to accept yourself and find ways to improve yourself in the future. So, what is an easy way to get started with this?
  • Try to identify your current understanding by writing out your perceptions. This may be things that you think you are good at doing, or that you need to improve.
  • Think about things you are proud of or any accomplishments that really stand out throughout your life.
  • Think about your childhood and what made you happy back then. What has changed and what has remained the same? What are the reasons for the changes?
  • Encourage others to be honest with you about how they feel about you, and take what they say to heart.

In the end, you will come out with a fresh new perspective on yourself and your life.

Self-awareness, as “arguably the most fundamental issue in psychology, from both a developmental and an evolutionary perspective”, is a rich and complicated subject. As human beings, we may never fully understand ourselves, if there is such a destination. But perhaps it is the journey of exploring, understanding and becoming ourselves that makes life worth living.


As you develop self-awareness you are able to make changes in the thoughts and interpretations you make in your mind. Changing the interpretations in your mind allows you to change your emotions. Self-awareness is one of the attributes of Emotional Intelligence and an important factor in achieving success.

Self-awareness is the first step in creating what you want and mastering your life. Where you focus your attention, your emotions, reactions, personality and behaviour determine where you go in life. Having self-awareness allows you to see where your thoughts and emotions are taking you. It also allows you to take control of your emotions, behaviour, and personality so you can make changes you want. Until you are aware in the moment of your thoughts, emotions, words, and behaviour, you will have difficulty making changes in the direction of your life.

Relationships are easy until there is emotional turmoil. This is the same whether you are at work or in your personal life. When you can change the interpretation in your mind of what you think you can change your emotions and shift the emotional quality of your relationships. When you can change the emotions in your relationships you open up entirely new possibilities in your life.

Having a clear understanding of your thought and, behaviour patterns helps you understand other people. This ability to empathize facilitates better personal and professional relationships.

Preparation For One On One Sessions


Video 4: How is our memory of events influenced by our perceptions?

Reflect on the core message of this video and recount an event in your work life where, how your memory and reflection of the event turned out not to be as accurate as you originally thought. What caused you to react in an incorrect/inappropriate manner. Make notes so you are clear on exactly what happened and how you want to recall this.

Consider the Remembering Self versus the Experiencing Self, with attention to Endings.

Describe this event using the following heading

What happened?

Who was involved?

How you responded

How your understanding of the event might have been wrong.

Video 5 A Baird Man – Good or Bad Thing

In video 5 Charlie is being asked to rat on his school friends after breaking school rules, in response Colonel Slade delivers a passionate speech his words are harsh and at times appear out of order.

  1. Should Charlie have told the headmaster who the culprits are?
  2. Do you think Colonel Slade should have been allowed to continue speaking, and why?
  3. What do you think the importance of what he is saying is to the long-term value of the school?

Video 6: How well do you know yourself?

Based on the message of this video and the effects of thoughts on how you behave in everyday interactions reflect on:

  1. What are the 3 most limiting thoughts you hold about yourself
  2. Where do those thoughts come from and how are they reinforced.
  3. What are the negative messages you send yourself every day that should change?
  4. What are 3 self-awareness behaviours that you should adopt?


Using the tips and guidelines on how to develop self-awareness, develop a mind map to show practical steps and behaviours that will help overcome negativity and develop a better understanding of yourself in relation to those you work with.

Video Link: Mind Mapping

Video Link: How to mind map