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12 Powerful Self Awareness Techniques You Need to Know

Are there actual self awareness techniques? Yes! Self awareness is the first step in many parts of personal development. Self awareness is important for a great many things. Once you start cultivating it and see an accurate picture both of yourself and how others perceive you, you start cultivating better working relationships with others, you learn to listen better and respond with empathy, as well as improve your own problem solving skills and creativity. I’ll tell you my favorite self-awareness technique in a minute, but first, let’s look at what self awareness is and a variety of ways to help you build it.

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What is Self Awareness in Simple Words?

Self Awareness is being aware of yourself and your affect on the people and environment around you. That’s my definition. The dictionary definition reads “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” It’s knowing who you are and what drives you, and how other people around you perceive you. This involves 2 different kinds of self awareness.

What are the 2 Kinds of Self Awareness?

There are two main types of self-awareness in psychology. They are separate, but you need both types to get the most benefit from self-awareness.

Internal Self Awareness

Internal self awareness involves knowing yourself, your motives, desires, passions, core values, an motivations. This also means that you know your strengths as well as your weaknesses and have come to terms with them. It also is a key component of self-love and self-acceptance.

External Self Awareness

External self awareness deals more with being aware of how we affect the people around us and what they think of us. It means realizing if you come off as a jerk to those around you or if you are very well liked by your colleagues. When you have high external self awareness, you are more likely to practice active listening and empathy. This, in turn helps to build authentic relationships. It also makes you more likable.

What are Self Awareness skills?

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There are several self-awareness techniques that help to build self-awareness skills. All of these are just exercises or habits that anyone can start to cultivate. You may find that you are already doing a few of them. Many self awareness skills are also benefits of self awareness. They include:

  • creativity
  • problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • ability to built authentic relationships
  • active listening
  • empathy
  • confidence
  • growth mindset

What Causes Lack of Self Awareness?

While most people think they are self-aware, only a small percentage actually are. There are several reasons that people are not as self-aware as they think they are.

We Have Blind Spots About Ourselves

Sometimes it’s really hard for us to see ourselves accurately. There are certain things about ourselves that we just don’t see. We all have blind spots.

For example, I have always thought of myself as a really great listener. I was shocked once when my husband told me differently. He asked me to just listen and stop trying to solve his problems. I hate it when others do that to me yet had no idea that I was doing it to him! My listening skills are one of my blind spots that I am working to bring more self-awareness to and improve.

It’s Uncomfortable For Us

Sometimes, when we start cultivating self-awareness, we don’t like the picture that we get. We find out that others do not see us as awesomely as we have been viewing ourselves.

It Can Be Uncomfortable for Others to Give Us Honest Feedback

You need honest feedback for self-awareness. However, it’s not always the easiest thing for us to hear or for others to give. Have you ever been in a position where you needed to tell someone something they needed to know but you were afraid of how they would react? You understand how uncomfortable it can be.

(For example ” Your body odor is making it unbearable to work next to you. Please put on more deodorant.”) I still have not figured out a polite way to approach that subject when the need arises.

Self-Esteem Gets in the Way

There are a lot of articles about self-love and self-esteem. While it’s good not to beat yourself up about every little thing and generally like yourself, having an overly inflated opinion of yourself is not good either. When you find out that you are not as great as you thought you were, it can be a blow to your self esteem.

Signs That You Are Not Self Aware

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So how do you know if you need self-awareness techniques? How can you tell if you are self-aware or if you are in the majority of people that only thinks they are self aware? There are a few tell-tale signs such as:

  • defensiveness
  • being controlling
  • acting like a bully
  • responding instead of reacting when you get mad
  • passive-aggressiveness
  • making overly large claims or promises
  • making excuses, pointing fingers, and blaming others

Self Awareness Techniques

The following are all self awareness techniques that you can use to raise your own self-awareness. Like anything, it takes work, but the rewards pay off both personally and professionally. The techniques below deal with both external and internal self awareness – because you need both to get all of the benefits of self awareness.

1. Practice Self Discipline

Self-discipline is a skill that anyone can learn. It can even be rather fun. A large part of self-discipline is learning to become more aware of yourself. In my book, Self-Discipline in 6 Weeks, I talk a lot about identifying your Big Why that’s the motivator behind your big goal. It also includes questions such as “What do I really want out of life?” and ways to figure out if you are heading in the right direction. Self-discipline is a great self-awareness technique because the two skills are intertwined.

2. Journal to Reflect

I really enjoy a bullet journal because it allows me a lot of flexibility with planning and can be used for a variety of different things. Among those, I designated a free-writing section. It’s easier to go back and remember what you were thinking and feeling at certain times when you write it down. Mine is very similar to the one in the picture below.

If you don’t know where to start, prompts can be helpful. For starters, use your journal to reflect on how happy you are with your current life and if you are on the right track to where you want to be. Dig deep and examine yourself. See if you can identify your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and areas in your life that you can improve.

(Journal Prompts for Self Awareness post coming soon.) Sign up for access to my VIP Library and other great free content!

3. Set Personal Boundaries

Setting personal boundaries can be hard, but it can be a valuable asset in your self awareness techniques toolbox. When you are around toxic people, they drag you down. There is a difference between a toxic person and someone that’s brutally honest. One wants you to improve, the other one wants to drag you down. Learn to set personal boundaries for your own state of mind and also for the emotional health of those closest to you.

4. Observe Your Self-Talk

My self talk used to be really bad. My inner critic ruled the roost. I would tell myself all kinds of things like I was “stupid, not good enough, and why did I even try? I always fail. I’m a failure.”

Obviously, this isn’t a healthy mindset. I have since learned to silence my inner critic. Before I could do that, I had to first identify it. Our inner critics are that little voice in our heads that whisper things like what I described above. They make us feel awful and discourage us sometimes to the point of tears.

In order to change your self-talk, you first have to learn the self-awareness technique of learning to observe it so you can tell when it’s talking. That way, you can take a step back and silence it.

5. Know Your Emotional Triggers and Label Your Feelings

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Raising your self awareness through these self awareness techniques also involves controlling your emotions. It’s hard to do, but it gets easier once you learn what your emotional triggers are and start labeling your feelings.

For example, I know that one of my triggers is being interrupted multiple times when I am trying to work. I find that I am particularly annoyed when it’s the kids with little stuff that can wait or simply random information about a video game or one of their interests.

Being able to state “I feel annoyed when I am interrupted multiple times while I am trying to work.” helps me to not react out of anger. It also raises my self-awareness because I realize the cause and effect without judgment or blame instead of exploding on my kid and fuming to myself all day about not getting anything done because of them.

6. Practice Active Listening Techniques

The basic concept behind active listening is that you listen with the intent to understand instead of just pausing before you start talking again. Active listening is a great self-awareness technique because it revolves around first understanding where the other person is coming from. This also makes you more aware of how the other person is responding to you.

This way, you can start responding with more empathy and understanding, which cultivates authentic relationships.

7. Be open to listening to other’s point of view

One of the traits of people that are self-aware is an open frame of mind. They have the self-confidence to be able to listen to other’s point of view without getting defensive or thinking they are always right. Seek out someone who’s opinion is different from your own, and then listen as they explain their position. (This is not always the easiest thing to do.)

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Hard Truths

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Sometimes it’s not always easy to tell someone something that they need to hear. People do not always take the truth well when it’s something they do not want to acknowledge.

You need honest feedback to raise your self awareness. Not being afraid to tell hard truths is a good way to cultivate an environment that encourages honest feedback. It can and should be done kindly, but someone will not be able to fix a problem unless they know it exists.

That’s one of the reasons that these self-awareness techniques are so vital – they make you become aware of things that you might not have realized before. You can’t change a behavior unless you know that it exists and the effect that it has on others or on yourself.

9. Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback can be hard. But it is a necessary self-awareness technique, especially if you are trying to raise your external self-awareness. Since your external self-awareness deals with how other’s see you and react to you, you need to ask for feedback to know how they really perceive you instead of just taking guesses. We do not know what other people are thinking unless we ask them.

Don’t assume on this one. I have wrongly jumped to conclusions many times about what people think of me. Most of the time, I have been wrong. Don’t assume, just ask for feedback.

10. Trust Your Gut Feeling

Trusting your gut feelings takes some getting used to. Yes, you should gather information before making decisions in order to make the best choice possible. However, if something deep in your gut is telling you “this isn’t right.” Go with your gut feeling and don’t do it. This also helps to raise confidence in yourself and your judgment.

11. Ask Reflective Questions

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Perhaps at the very heart of self-awareness techniques are asking yourself reflective questions. This is my favorite self-awareness technique. Reflective questions do not mean that you beat yourself up and over-analyze everything you said or did over the course of your entire life. Instead, a list of reflective questions are ones that help you get to know yourself better.

Reflective questions help raise your internal self awareness and bring things to mind about whether you are currently on the track in life that you want to be on. They also bring to light whether your activities are in line with your long-term life goals. Additionally, they can also help you pinpoint weaknesses in yourself that you need to work on and identify strengths as well.

12. Stay True to Your Core Values and Priorities in Life

As with anything, these self-awareness techniques should operate within the boundaries of your core values and life priorities. If I have career goals and ambitions but sacrifice my family life in order to get them, I am not being true to either my core values or my priorities.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Self Awareness Techniques

Many people think they are self-aware, but only a few actually are. Self awareness techniques can help to build your own self awareness. This involves knowing both yourself and what’s going on with your thoughts and emotions, as well as how other people perceive and respond to you.

Some of the self awareness techniques we talked about include practicing self discipline, journaling, asking reflective questions and becoming aware of your self talk. As well as asking for feedback from others, trusting your gut, practicing active listening, and staying true to your own core values and priorities.

Of all of the above techniques, I find journaling very helpful, and try to do so on a regular basis. I am much more aware of my self talk than I used to be, and my inner critic does not rule the roost any longer. Above all, I try to fit everything into the framework of my core values and priorities.

What techniques have you found for improving your self awareness? Leave me a comment below!

Reference Links:

Techniques for improving self-awareness of youth sport coaches

Self-awareness and communication in nurses

Self-Awareness in leadership

How to become self aware

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