Why is a lack of self-awareness bad for you? Learn more about self-awareness and its importance.
Are you aware of your surroundings? Do you pay attention to the sounds, smells, and colors? The chances are that you’re focused on just a couple of things because there’s too much information coming from all directions so it would be difficult for your brain to process all of it.
The situation is the same when it comes to your mind. Being aware of yourself can be difficult because your mind is also a complex thing. There are too many thoughts and emotions so it can be difficult to connect them and see a bigger picture. Moreover, it can be incredibly difficult to be objective about yourself.
In this article, we are going to consider self-awareness in detail and answer the most important question: why is self-awareness important? We will also think of how to practice self-awareness and how it works.
What Self-Awareness Is?
Although most people have some understanding of what self-awareness is, scientists are still not quite sure about its origin. The self-awareness theory developed by psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert A. Wicklund offered an interpretation of this concept that allowed psychologists to better understand the connection between self-awareness and emotions.
The main idea behind the self-awareness theory is that you are not your thoughts but an observer. You can perform your everyday activities without focusing on your thoughts and feelings. However, you can also pay attention to your inner self and compare your thoughts, actions, and feelings to your internal standards. Wicklund and Duval named this ability self-evaluation.
We engage in self-evaluation every day, judging our thoughts and actions, and our evaluation directly depends on our own views regarding what’s right or wrong. Obviously, the main issue with self-evaluation is its objectivity.
According to Wicklund and Duval, objective self-awareness means considering oneself as an object of social evaluation. Therefore, the standards that we use for self-evaluation also depend on social factors.
How Self-Awareness Works
Generally, when we compare ourselves against our standards, we face two possible outcomes: we may either conclude that we meet our standards or find a discrepancy. When we don’t correspond to our standards, we may either try to reduce the discrepancy between us and our standards or avoid self-evaluation completely.
According to the self-awareness theory, our response to finding a discrepancy depends on several factors. Simply put, everything depends on our projections. If we believe that we won’t be able to change the situation, then we will likely avoid self-evaluation. However, if we believe that we have a chance to succeed, we may take action.
This decision also depends on how much time and effort changes might take. We are less likely to do something to change the situation when expecting slow progress, especially if there’s a significant difference between our standards and ourselves.
In other words, people tend not to solve issues that require consistent work and may avoid self-evaluation, which in turn leads to a lack of self-awareness. It’s also important to keep in mind that we can change our standards when we fail to meet them.
Moreover, sometimes, changing standards is actually a good thing. The reason is that excessive self-awareness can contribute to the development of various mental health issues, including anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Recognizing bad habits
Whether it be smoking or less harmful habits, like biting your nails, recognizing your bad habits and overcoming them can be a challenging task. Given that some bad habits may also be rooted in mental health issues, it’s important to recognize them as problems and seek professional help.
For example, if your bad habit is caused by OCD, the best solution is to consider therapy. You can try online therapy if you don’t want to commute to a therapist’s office, as OCD online therapy has proven to deliver great results.
Focusing on the positive aspects of a difficult situation
When you’re overwhelmed with a massive workload or stuck in traffic, you may feel angry, and that’s where self-awareness can make a big difference. Of course, it won’t just magically change your mood, but it can help you see a bigger picture.
When you’re aware of the fact that a certain situation negatively affects your mood, you can control and change the way you react to it or switch your attention to something positive. In other words, you can decide that some things don’t bother you.
Dealing with the things you cannot control
There are many things that we cannot control, but we are in control of the way we react to them. To control your reactions, you should understand how your mind works so you need to reflect on your emotions and self-evaluate your behavior.
Why Is Self-Awareness Important?
First of all, self-awareness encourages personal growth, improving acceptance and making us more proactive. Self-awareness also enables us to consider our actions and thoughts from a more general perspective, finding effective and creative solutions.
Not only does it improve your ability to make decisions, but it also allows you to recognize your accomplishments and therefore improve your self-esteem. Self-awareness is one of the signs of healthy self-esteem, and you should work on your self-awareness if you want to learn to love yourself.
Being aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions allows you to grow personally and professionally, and it can also help you improve your relationships with others. No matter what you do, you can benefit from healthy self-awareness, so let’s consider some simple tips that will help you become more self-aware.
How to Become More Self-Aware
Dedicate some time to self-reflection
You can reflect on your experiences, thoughts, and emotions in different ways. For example, you may write them down or just listen to your favorite music and think. The main thing is to think of where you did or didn’t meet your own standards and what you can improve.
Don’t hesitate to question your standards and think of whether or not they are actually useful and beneficial for you.
Practice mindfulness and meditation
Practicing mindfulness means being present in the current moment and paying attention to your environment instead of being preoccupied with your worries or ruminating.
Another great approach is meditation. There are many kinds of meditation, but most of them involve focusing all your attention on one specific thing, like an object in front of you or your breath. Instead of holding on to each of your thoughts, you should just let them flow freely.
Even though yoga is sort of a physical exercise, it’s also a great practice for your mind. While stretching your muscles, you can practice self-awareness and self-acceptance. Yoga can help you become more aware of your body while also taking a break from your worries. Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many people who practice self-care choose yoga.
Journaling is a very effective approach. In fact, journaling is often used as a part of cognitive behavioral therapy. By writing down your thoughts and experiences, you can not only better understand what you want and what you should work on but also see what experiences trigger negative thoughts and feelings.
You may practice freewriting, make bulleted lists, or even turn your journal into a novel. You can also talk to a therapist and ask them for tips on how to use journaling most effectively.
Talk to others
By talking to your friends and relatives, you can take a look at yourself from a new angle. Ask people that you love to tell you what they think about you. Let them describe you as a person — some things might surprise you and help you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Self-awareness allows you to recognize your achievements and strengths while also understanding how you can grow professionally and personally. Self-awareness is a very important concept in therapy, and if you want to become more self-aware or understand whether or not you need to change your standards, you can talk to a therapist.
A licensed therapist can help you figure out what factors impact your self-awareness and help you overcome any difficulties associated with it. If you have a tight work schedule, you don’t even need to commute to a therapist’s office because online therapy platforms like Calmerry allow you to get the necessary support from virtually anywhere. Learn more about therapy to get ready for your first session.