Sydney Gideon, LSW

What is self-awareness? It can be used as praise, “wow you’re so self-aware!” or as an insult, “she has no self-awareness.” But what do we actually mean when we label ourselves or others as having or lacking self-awareness? The official Merriam-Webster definition of self-awareness is, “knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character.” In other words, truly knowing yourself internally, individually, and within the context of relationships and the world. Being able to identify how you are in each moment allows you to be grounded in the present moment. This is the most effective way to ensure you show up as your truest and best self, the person you want to be when cultivating interpersonal relationships with others. Implementing pauses throughout the day to check in with ourselves and ask ourselves how we’re doing is a great way to begin growing self-awareness. Identifying your current mood will help shift how you show up to interactions as we respond differently when we’re tired and irritable then we do when we’re well-rested and happy. 

Continuous Improvement

Success is directly linked to engaging in continuous improvement. Continuous improvement refers to our ability to reflect on past experiences, identifying what can be improved upon or changed for future interactions. Good judgment stems from our ability to learn and grow from past experiences. When we make a mistake, we suffer the consequences, as severe or minor as they may be, and then ideally, we make a different decision next time. Learning from our mistakes requires us to truly examine past experiences to determine the changes to be made next time. Good judgment, which requires self-awareness, is linked to success. “That analysis is fundamental self-awareness. Being aware of self, so that I can improve.”

Self-Awareness Can Be Uncomfortable

Cultivating self-awareness is likely to be an uncomfortable process. It requires you to own up to your mistakes and reflect on ways you’re showing up to situations that don’t align with your core values or beliefs. It’s arguably much easier to stay blissfully naïve than to acknowledge a mistake that was made. Criticism is hard to digest, even when it comes from yourself. While this may work for some time, it’s impossible to improve while remaining in this state. Ultimately, it will end up impacting your personal and professional life and will lead to feeling unfulfilled and, potentially, alone. 

Self-Awareness and Social Awareness

Self-awareness and social awareness go hand in hand. “Social awareness is very simply knowing that what you say or do, has an impact on others and knowing what that impact is.” Success requires cultivating relationships with others which requires social awareness. These concepts are intertwined and all affect our ability to grow our success. In order to ensure our intent in how we show up matches the impact it has on others, it’s crucial to ask for feedback. Social awareness and self-awareness are grown by learning when your intent doesn’t elicit the intended impact. Asking for feedback can be uncomfortable as you’re opening yourself up to criticism. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, understanding how others view and perceive you is vital to the ability to be successful. 

Are You Willing to Improve?

When asked point-blank, “Do you want to be successful?”, it would prove difficult to find an individual who says no. The follow-up question, “Are you willing to improve upon yourself to achieve this success?” may elicit less enthusiastic responses. However, if you’re someone answering “yes” to both questions, the most basic and crucial way to begin improving is to do what it takes to grow both self and social awareness. 

If you’ve found yourself struggling with your ability to grow your self-awareness or social awareness, it may be useful to try individual counseling. Reach out Symmetry Counseling online, or by calling us at 312-578-9990 to arrange an appointment with a Chicago therapist today!

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