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Why Self-Awareness is Important: 5 Benefits of Self-Awareness

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I’ve written a post on how you can be more self-aware, but I didn’t really go into why self-awareness is important. Being self-aware comes with its own package of benefits. But is it possible to be too self-aware?

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What is Self Awareness?

Before we get into its benefits, let’s dive a little bit into what self-awareness is.

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You probably have a basic idea of what it is. Fundamentally, self-awareness is the ability to clearly and objectively see yourself and everything that makes you who you are.

Merriam-Webster defines self-awareness as “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality”.

Wikipedia defines it as “how an individual consciously knows and understands their own character, feelings, motives, and desires”.

So in a nutshell, self-awareness is your understanding and knowledge of your…

  • Thoughts, thinking patterns, intentions, perceptions, actions, sensations
  • Personality, character, attitude, mindset, outlook
  • Strengths, weaknesses, flaws, qualities
  • Habits, tendencies
  • Emotions, feelings, moods
  • Beliefs, values, worldview
  • Motivations, passions, desires, goals, likes and dislikes

…and how all of them fit into your current environment, life, and general reality.

Where Does Self-Awareness Come From?

Although self-awareness is something that is central to who you are, it’s not exactly something you are conscious about every second of the day. Instead, self-awareness seems to emerge at different times and moments depending on who you are and the situation you are in.

It’s not exactly known where self-awareness comes from or why some people seem to have more or less than others. This is where the theory of self-awareness comes in.

The theory proposes that when someone focuses attention on themselves, they evaluate and compare their current behavior to their internal standards and values, which increases their self-awareness.

This process of comparing yourself with your own standards causes you to feel a certain way about yourself – whether negatively or positively.

It allows you to change your behavior to try to match your standards. Thus, self-awareness is a major mechanism of self-control.

Why is Self Awareness Important? 5 Benefits of Self-Awareness

Wanting to become more self-aware means paying attention and trying to learn more about your psychology and yourself.

There are many reasons why and how self-awareness is essential to living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

So what are the benefits of self-awareness? Why should you become more self-aware?

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1. Personal Growth

One of the reasons why developing self-awareness is important is for personal development and self-improvement.

No one fully understands themselves. Even if we live to be 100 years old, there will still be a mountain of things about ourselves that goes undiscovered. And that’s okay.

However, we can strive to discover as much of ourselves as possible. We’ll get to know our likes and dislikes, our strengths and flaws, our values and beliefs, and so on.

Once we find out things about ourselves, we can work to enhance and improve ourselves and our life.

Becoming more self-aware is one way to do it. It allows us to better learn about ourselves while we’re still living. It gives us the opportunity to make needed changes to lead a more fulfilling life.


Example

Cupcake feels unsatisfied with his life despite having everything he's ever wanted - a high-paying job, an amazing spouse, and two healthy children. He doesn't know why he still isn't happy despite his supposedly great life. 

But when he thought more about it, he noticed he wasn't spending enough time with his family - which he now realizes is more important to him than his job. So he decided to switch to a less demanding position at work.

He makes less now, but he's happier and more relaxed. Most importantly, he's able to focus on what's important to him.
Discussion

A high-paying job might seem more desirable. It might seem like what society wants Cupcake to prioritize in his life. But it wasn’t what Cupcake wanted. His family is more important to him than making the extra income.

As long as he still makes enough to support his family, it’s okay if he doesn’t make as much because he gets to do what makes him truly happy.

Perhaps there’s something in your life that you feel is missing that leaves you feeling unfulfilled.

Once you figure out what it is – which could take time – be like Cupcake and try to make the necessary changes to live life the way you want to.

2. Better Emotion Regulation and Self-Control

People who are more self-aware are also typically more emotionally intelligent. Being more self-aware allows you to be more aware of your emotions, allowing you to better regulate those emotions.

You would know what you are feeling when you are feeling it, and what caused you to feel that way. You will be able to identify your emotions and find a way to appease them before reacting to them. And being more familiar with your emotions helps you learn about your thinking patterns.

You will notice why you have developed certain thinking patterns and decide whether or not they should change. And better emotion regulation leads to clearer thinking, better decision-making, and overall more self-control.

So in the end, higher self-awareness results in higher self-regulation.

Example

Whenever Muffin's angry, she's hostile and aggressive. Her behavior pushes away her family and friends, which causes her to be even angrier. Thus, a cycle ensues.

After speaking with a therapist, Muffin learns to identify triggers that make her feel this way. She realized that she gets angry whenever someone makes a mistake. 

She learned that she developed this thinking pattern because growing up, her father would get angry whenever she made a mistake.

Now, whenever she gets angry, instead of reacting to it, she tries to identify what caused it. Once she does, she reminds herself that it's okay to make mistakes. 

If she continues feeling angry, she would find healthy ways to cope, like going for a run, rather than take it out on the people she cares about.

3. Improved Communication and Social Skills

Having a clearer sense of what you believe and what you want makes it easier to effectively communicate in different aspects of your life.

Learning how others make you feel also lets you in on how you make others feel. 

You will realize how your presence, actions, and words affect other people. This will prompt you on how to act and speak accordingly in social situations.

Also, if and when something doesn’t work out, you will have a better understanding of what happened. You would know to look back at how you behaved that might have led to that outcome.

4. More Meaningful Relationships

Perhaps there are things about you that turn off other people that you’re not aware of.

You don’t know why you can’t seem to make friends, why you’re always stuck in unhappy relationships, or why you’re still single. Maybe you’re too stubborn, too blunt, or too sarcastic.

Being more self-aware allows you to see things from the perspective of others. You will be able to notice how your words and actions can affect other people and whether your behavior is pushing people away.

As you become more aware of yourself, you also become more aware of others. 

Self-awareness allows you to become a better observer of yourself, as well as a better observer and listener for others. When you can detect and understand how other people see you, you will be able to create stronger and more authentic relationships.

Example

Pancake thinks her boyfriend, Waffle, spends too much time playing video games and not enough time with her. She gets upset every time Waffle play games. She now resents him whenever he does it, causing Pancake to become distant. 

But then, Pancake realized that she's contributing to the problem. She never told Waffle how she felt. She made the assumption that he'd rather play games than spend time with her. Her being distant was also pushing Waffle away. 

So Pancake sits down with Waffle to discuss the issue. Waffle learns how Pancake feels and agrees to spend more time with her. Pancake agrees to work on voicing her needs more rather than keeping it to herself.

5. Happier Life

Self-awareness is correlated with higher levels of overall happiness.

Being more self-aware means you are more mindful of your decisions, thoughts, and actions.

Your clearer thinking, improved emotion regulation, better communication, ability to form meaningful relationships, and awareness of yourself, your environment, and your life can decrease your overall stress levels.

Self-awareness allows you to experience pride in yourself and your work. It also provides you with a general increase in confidence and self-esteem.

You can seek out your true desires to increase your motivation and enjoyment in life.  You can align your thoughts and actions with your desires, passions, and goals. 

Being self-aware can help get what you think, say, and do all in agreement. It reduces confusion and increases satisfaction in your life. 

Overall, self-awareness can help you strive for the life that you find meaningful and fulfilling. It’s like the missing puzzle piece to how everything fits together.

missing piece to the puzzle | How to Be More Self Aware | Hopeful Panda

About the Examples

As you can probably tell, each example given aren’t really anything special; they are problems that many people face every day in the world.

You likely struggled with one or even all of these problems at one point or another. And many of these everyday issues can be solved with some self-awareness.

Without self-awareness, Cupcake would keep feeling unsatisfied and unhappy with his life, Muffin would still be pushing people away with her anger, and Pancake would be unhappy with her relationship, which probably would’ve eventually ended up in a break-up.

So whenever a problem arises or you’re feeling negatively, try to look within yourself and listen to what your mind and heart are trying to tell you.

Try to view yourself from another perspective to see if you played a part in creating the conflict. Then, try to make the adjustments needed to resolve the problem, whether it’s external or internal.

Self-Awareness vs. Self-Consciousness

Sometimes, it is possible to be so self-aware that self-awareness becomes self-consciousness.

Although extremely self-conscious individuals are very aware of their feelings, beliefs, desires, personality, and are more likely to stick to their values, they can suffer from negative consequences like increased stress and anxiety.

Usually, feelings of self-consciousness are temporary, arising in moments where you’re the center of attention.

However, for people with social anxiety, extreme self-consciousness occurs practically every moment they’re in public and/or surrounded by others.

So it is possible to have too much self-awareness to the point that it becomes unhealthy or even a condition.

The key is to find the sweet spot where you can reap the most benefits from being self-aware.

Conclusion

Self-awareness has the potential to improve a lot of experiences you have as long as you don’t cross the line into excessive, chronic self-consciousness. It is a tool and practice that you can implement anywhere and anytime.

With all the benefits that come with self-awareness, why doesn’t everyone strive to be more self-aware?

Despite what we might think, most of us actually lack self-awareness. Research estimates that only ten to fifteen percent of people are truly self-aware. 

Even if you truly believe that you’re self-aware, there is still a lot of things about yourself that even you don’t know about. And although it is impossible to be truly, 100% objective about yourself, there are varying degrees of self-awareness. 

Self-awareness exists on a spectrum and everyone should all strive to be more self-aware if they can as long as it remains healthy and beneficial.

Learn more about how to improve your self-awareness in this post: 35 Ways on How to Be More Self Aware

Why Self Awareness is Important: Benefits of Self-Awareness | Hopeful Panda

Seek help

A professional can help you learn strategies to be more self-aware as well as healthy coping mechanisms when encountering certain issues or circumstances.

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