Self-awareness is knowing yourself. It is understanding your feelings, motives, goals, and biases. Psychologists have identified two types: internal self-awareness and external self-awareness. Internal self-awareness focuses on your thoughts, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, values, and so on. External self-awareness is being tuned to how other people perceive you. Both types of self-awareness are important. Here are ten reasons why:
#1 You’ll understand yourself better
Behaviors and choices come from thoughts, feelings, values, goals, and biases. To succeed in life – either personally or professionally – understanding that root is important. Without understanding, confusion naturally follows. You won’t understand why you do the things you do or feel the things you feel, and if things go wrong, you won’t know where to begin resolution. The more self-aware you are, the stronger your foundation is.
#2 You’ll have a better understanding of what affects your beliefs
We all have things we believe about ourselves, others, and how the world works. Religious and political beliefs are just two examples. These beliefs aren’t developed spontaneously. They’re influenced by factors like your upbringing and other life experiences. Self-aware people have a deeper understanding of where beliefs come from. This can make their beliefs stronger or trigger the development of new beliefs. As an example, most people have biases that can negatively affect others. A self-aware person is equipped to take a closer look at a bias and realize that it isn’t a fact written in stone. This gives them space to change.
#3 You’ll know your strengths
A big part of self-awareness is knowing your strengths. Taking the time and energy to look at your life gives you information about what you’re good at. Why is this so important? Every job interview will ask what your strengths are. The more self-aware you become, the more precise and accurate you can be when answering this question. Knowing your strengths also means you can choose to spend more time improving them, becoming a master of a skill and using that to find more success.
#4 You’ll know your weaknesses
Knowing your weaknesses is just as important as knowing your strengths. It’s rarely enjoyable to spend much time thinking about where you aren’t succeeding, but if you want to improve, you need to know what to improve. Being self-aware about your shortcomings is also an opportunity to practice self-compassion. This is another important habit to build for a happy life. When you’re both honest and compassionate with yourself, identifying your weaknesses won’t feel as brutal.
#5 You’ll improve your critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is the ability to process and analyze information from an objective perspective. This is a very useful skill in many scenarios, whether personal or professional. When you’re self-aware, you’re able to identify the subjective parts of yourself – like your feelings and opinions – and do your best to not let them play too big of a role in your critical thinking.
#6 You’ll improve your decision-making
Many skills go into making a good decision, and when you’re self-aware, you already have many of those skills. Self-aware people are familiar with analyzing because they analyze their own thoughts and feelings. They’re also familiar with critical thinking, which is an important part of making a good decision. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is also very helpful as it guides you to a decision that fits you best.
#7 You’ll have better listening skills
Active listening is a rare skill. Most people are half-listening to the person talking and half-listening to their own thoughts, preparing a response. People who lack self-awareness are often the worst listeners. Why? When you don’t listen to yourself and don’t understand your own thoughts and feelings, it’s very difficult to do that for others. Becoming more self-aware stretches the same muscles it takes to be a better listener. Self-aware people are also good listeners because they can recognize emotional triggers and biases that affect communication.
#8 You’ll have better self-regulation
Self-regulation is the management of an emotion’s intensity and frequency. It’s different from self-control, which many interpret as repressing an emotion. Self-regulation is a more helpful framework. If you struggle with your reactions and feel bound to intense feelings, self-regulation can help. To self regulate, you first need to understand your emotions and what triggers them. When you have more self-awareness, regulation and other decisions – like avoiding certain triggers – becomes easier.
#9 You’ll have more empathy
The benefits of self-awareness don’t stop with you. When you understand yourself better, that translates into understanding others better. You become aware that everyone’s feelings and beliefs come from their experiences. You’re also a better listener, which is essential to fostering empathy. Considering that self-awareness is about understanding emotions, it makes sense that the understanding extends to others.
#10 You’ll be a better leader
Self-awareness is one of the most desired traits for leaders. As we’ve learned, self-awareness leads to other skills like active listening, critical thinking, decision-making, and empathy. These are all traits that good leaders possess. A 2010 study that looked at 72 executives revealed that high self-awareness is associated with more success. If you have dreams of being a leader in some way, self-awareness is a must.