What is Self Awareness? Why is it Important?

what is self awareness

Most of us live under the assumption that we know ourselves better than we know anyone else. Ironically… this is not often the case. Have you ever been in a stressful situation? Often, the way we handle that moment surprises us, more than it surprises anyone else. Either we deal with the situation in a courageous manner or we fall apart and feel guilty. If this has ever happened to you, even if your response was the most amazing one you can imagine, that is: if you didn’t already expect that from yourself, then you have a lack of self awareness.

Here is a great example about someone I know well.

My friend is a calm and happy going person. He and his boss were having a tough relationship. One day they both started confronting each other. The boss said, “Do you know the power of my pen? One signature and you’ll be out of this office.”

My friend (who was in his 20’s at the time) replied, “Do you know the power of my arms?” He slapped his boss, instantly opened the door, and started screaming that the boss was hitting him. For the rest of the day my friend was happy and kept joking about the incident. But now when he thinks back about it, he feels ashamed and guilty.

He still doesn’t know what prompted him to slap his boss. He doesn’t normally lose his temper, but that day surprised him and he is still searching for an answer. Due to a lack of self awareness, most of us stay confused in this life. Why is that an issue? Because if you don’t know who you really are, how can you even hope to accomplish everything you dream of in this life?

What is self awareness: temet nosce

To begin with, to answer the question of “What is self awareness,” we must first learn who we really are inside. That’s easier said, than done, and yet, that is only the first step. The ancient Greeks explained it this way (though the above phrase is written in Latin, the Greeks get the credit): Temet Nosce (Know Thyself) means both that you should never boast to be more than you actually are, and also that you should never let someone else decide who you really are. Only you can know how to answer that question.

Let’s do a simple exercise with an honest attempt at understanding ourselves. Pick up a pen and paper and start writing about your strong points. Do not limit yourself with a certain number of words or points. These can be either external or internal strengths.

If you find that it helps, you can even ask yourself questions. You can ask things as simple as, “Do I look good when I wear pink” or as complex as “Can I empathize with people easily.” The idea is to identify your own self-worth. Not to feel bad about areas where you don’t add up to what you thought you would. Identifying your strengths will help you to value yourself more. It will also help to uncover your treasures and strengthen your weaknesses.

Many a time we choose a career which we do not enjoy and later regret. We get so caught up in life that before we know it, it’s too late to take corrective steps.

Bhagat, a famous Indian fiction writer (and according to the New York Times, the biggest-selling author in India’s history), originally studied engineering, and worked for a reputed bank. Though he made good money, something was still missing. He persisted, until one day he realized that his first love was writing.

Finally he left the job to follow his passion. Had he done this earlier he could have devoted all those years to satisfy his thirst. As it was, he lacked self awareness. He did not have the one thing you will have by the time you finish reading here today. He didn’t know how to answer “What is self awareness.” You will.

What he did have, as do you, is time. Eventually, of course, his realization led to self awareness which then led to immense satisfaction and even great financial and critical success. Today his achievements are well known.

In today’s competitive world we want to jump on every opportunity without recognizing our strengths and desires. This can only lead to failure. Failures cause depression, stress and low self esteem. If that’s already where you are, then before you can answer “what is self awareness,” you need to first regroup and then you can properly begin. Why? Because in order to regain your hidden qualities you have to first rebuild your inner strength and good self esteem by following these few steps.

Tips to develop self esteem

1. Say thank you for any praise you get. If someone praises you, acknowledge it. Most of the time we prefer not to take credit of good work done by us. When we do this we are, indirectly, telling our brain that we do not value ourselves.

2. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are a winner.

3. Write down your achievements and read them occasionally. It will boost your morale and confidence.

4. Do more of the small activities you love. Follow your hobby

5. Surround yourself with positive people. Being in their company will change your thinking from negative to positive and inner peace will start pouring in.

6. Read self help books. It will take you out of depression.

7. Stop comparing: To get out of the trap of this constant comparison you have to develop a strong belief in yourself. It is impossible to be like everyone else and still be your own person. In a world of individuals comparison is a senseless activity.

8. Remember you are unique in this world. Every individual has their own beauty and each mind has its own method. So believe in your strength.

9. Never allow anyone to victimize you. Respect and love yourself and the world will do same for you.

10. Stop placing other people above yourself in value and worth.

11. Always be creatively alive in every situation and be happy.

12. There is no way to happiness but happiness opens up all the ways.

13. Have a positive attitude towards life. Remember, the problem is not the issue, it is your attitude that is the problem. So always find positivity in negativity. It will provide enormous strength to fight the odds.


Last but not the least, you are a creation of God and God has blessed you with enthusiasm, power, love, respect, originality, beauty and much more. So explore these qualities in yourself and create a powerful world around you. That becomes true self awareness (in the real sense).


About the Author

Vandana is a Personality Enhancement Trainer associated with various Corporate and Management Colleges.

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