Have you ever wondered how some people know themselves so well? It is like they are so in touch with their thoughts and feelings that they know how to handle the daily situations that come at them with more thoughtfulness and control.

Do you want to understand your thoughts and feelings and gain control over your actions? Then, self-awareness is a skill you must learn. It is one you must develop if you are committed to building better relationships, harnessing them, and becoming a better you.

In this article, we will give self-awareness meaning and explore the types, benefits, and negative effects of not having it and how to improve self-awareness.

What is self-awareness?

While many people have tried to describe self-awareness, let us start with a good self-awareness definition. We will define self-awareness as the ability to recognize how independent you are from others and know your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and how they relate to your actions.

Self Awareness will help you to point out your feelings and label them for what they are. It helps you to answer questions such as “What are my values?”, “Who am I,” What are my feelings at this moment?”, and “What would I do if?”.

If you want to have a better positive influence on your environment, especially on the outcomes that you can control, then learning to be self-aware is a significant step to take.

Types of self-awareness

There are two recognized types of self-awareness. They are private and public self-awareness.

Private self-awareness

People who have private self-awareness are curious about themselves. They do a lot of introspection to explore their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. They question and probe and are able to notice little details about their reactions and, probably, why they decide to act.

If, in your workplace, a colleague comes at you and, for whatever reason, begins to yell unnecessarily, as a self-aware person with values to respect workplace courtesy, you will notice your increasing heart rate and the urge to yell back. Then recognize the possible consequences and back out. That is an example of private self-awareness.

Public self-awareness

Public self-awareness focuses on the perception of others about you. It helps you to understand how people act toward you. People with public self-awareness will notice body language, facial expressions, and other little details while adjusting themselves to serve the needs of others. But it could become unhealthy if you begin to please others while harming yourself.

Why is self-awareness important?

The psychologist Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” Understanding your emotions, thoughts, actions, and more will help you steer yourself in the right direction or at least help you see where you are headed. This is what self-awareness helps you do.

Why is self-awareness important? From helping you make better decisions to building better relationships, Tasha Eurich and her team conducted research and observed that being self-aware was a skill that a small percentage of happy people who were able to maintain good relationships had. There are quite a number of peculiar reasons why it is important, so let’s explore some general self-awareness benefits.

  • It helps you have more control over your actions.
  • It helps you build better relationships and maintain the ones you already have.
  • It allows you to see things from different perspectives.
  • It lets you approach people with kindness and empathy.
  • It could help identify your triggers and harness your emotions
  • It helps you make better, more selfless decisions.
  • It could improve your communication skills because you’re in touch with how others react.
  • It allows you to handle stress properly
  • It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • It helps you to be self-accepting, which increases self-confidence.

Self-awareness in workplace

As important as it is to do deep work and be focused, it might surprise you to also learn that self-awareness in the workplace helps you to be more productive. One reason is that when you are in touch with yourself, you can relate well with your work colleagues, fostering a non-toxic work environment. Here are some of the benefits of self-awareness in workplace:

  1. Helps you self-regulate and reduce stress:

Self-regulation is your ability to point out your emotions and manage them as necessary. For instance, it is a hot afternoon, and your supervisor or manager sends it to you. You enter their office and they show their displeasure in the last report that you wrote. They use words that seem to cut through you like a dagger. You want to break down and begin to whine or storm out of their office, yelling. But you choose to be patient and listen intently, waiting to give your perspective after them. Self-regulation means controlling yourself.

2. Helps you manage time better:

Understanding yourself helps you recognize distractions for what they are and choose to focus on urgent and important priorities. It gives you a chance to become self-disciplined and better manage your time. Research shows that many people think they are self-aware, but they are not. It is possible to work with people who deal with a lack of self-awareness. So how do you handle them?

First, you must realize that they probably do not know that they are not self-aware. Since you know this by observing, you must approach them with empathy and kindness, but you must not allow their negligence to be of harm to you.

Also, when you give feedback, you should do so with kindness. This does not stop you from being honest. It only means that you are giving feedback constructively to see a possible change.

In addition, rather than lash out at your colleagues, realizing their lack of self-awareness it is better to emphasize what they can do to improve instead of what they are doing wrong. This way, you allow for a healthy workplace culture by being self-aware.

Self-awareness in leadership

To be not just an impressive leader, but a great one with optimal impact, you must be a person with self-understanding. Self-awareness in leadership brings out the best in you and helps you bring out the best in others. As Roy. T. Bennett said, “Good people see the good and bring out the best in other people.” This is what a good leader is like bringing out the best in them and helping them do that. Self-awareness helps you do that. It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, and emotions. This could help strengthen your relationships and make you a better people-person. Public self-awareness will help you treat others with empathy and approach matters more objectively instead of reacting based on emotions.

For example, you work as a manager at a mall. A sales representative who is almost always in high spirits and dutiful seems somewhat draggy with customers that afternoon instead of walking up to her and telling her to get her act together. You walk towards her, all smiles, to speak calmly with her. At that moment, you decide, after hearing about her child’s illness, to give her leave for the day. Recognizing her emotions, giving her space to address personal issues at that moment, and choosing to decide with your coworkers in mind is a trait of a self-aware leader.

Another is that of Comfort, a high school principal. She wears her values on her sleeves. For instance, she is prompt for school activities and meetings with teachers. On the days that she falls short, she apologizes and gives a reason for lateness. Also, she voices her concerns politely and encourages every teacher and student to do the same. She receives honest feedback without attacking teachers and encourages teachers to receive the same from their students. Comfort’s humility and openness have built trust with her and the school community. Also, her honesty allows for growth in the school. This is how self-awareness will transform your leadership.

How to improve self-awareness?

You now understand or have an idea of what self-awareness is and want to know how to improve self-awareness. These steps will help:

  1. Take stock of daily experiences and activities by writing.
  2. Decide your virtues and vices and be clear on them.
  3. Set time aside to meditate.
  4. Ask trusted people for feedback.
  5. Pay attention and be mindful.


Now that we have answered the question, “What is self-awareness?” and the various ways it affects your everyday life. It seems like an impossible thing only for a selected few, but you should know that it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon with practice. If you find it hard developing self-awareness, then you should see a professional. Yes, it is like a process. So, do something daily geared towards understanding yourself and moving you forward on this journey.