What is Self-Awareness?

Socrates said:  Know Thyself.”

His message was that, unless you are willing to take an honest look at how you have been living your life and the results you have been creating, you are doomed to repeat the same results over and over again, with no prospect of progress or growth.

In psychology, the concept of “Self-Awareness” is defined as a form of intelligence, and an understanding of one’s own knowledge, attitudes, and opinions. Self-awareness is the concept that ONE exists as an individual, separate from other people, with private thoughts. It may also include the understanding that other people are similarly self-aware. Self-awareness, in the simplest terms, is the discovery of one’s own personality. It allows us to discover ourselves; our likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and our own individuality.

The eminent psychologist, Daniel Goleman defined Self-awareness as “the ability to recognize and understand one’s moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others.” He identified Self-awareness as the number one component in Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Self-Awareness is comprised of three specific capabilities: Self-confidence, Accurate Self-assessment and Emotional Self-awareness. A greater understanding of each of these capabilities will provide a basis for development.

·     Self-confidence allows us to have a positive and realistic perception of ourselves and our abilities. It is characterized by personal attributes such as assertiveness, optimism, enthusiasm, affection, pride, independence, trust, the ability to handle criticism and emotional maturity. A balance in self-confidence, not too much or too little, is important and directly affects one’s opportunity to achieve success in any endeavor. As is true of all strengths, when taken to excess, they become liabilities.

·     Individuals who are capable in Accurate Self-assessment are acutely aware of their abilities and limitations, seek out feedback and learn from their mistakes, and know where they need to improve and when to work with others who have complementary strengths. Accurate Self-assessment was the competence found in virtually every successful “star performer.” That’s because these people are more likely to pay attention to all forms of feedback and make necessary modifications to their behavior in order to achieve their goals.

·     Emotional Self-awareness is the recognition of one’s own feelings and how they affect one’s performance. The better you understand yourself, the better you are able to accept or change who you are. Being in the dark about yourself means that you will continue to get caught up in your own internal struggles and allow outside forces to mold and shape you.

Emotional Intelligence begins with this Self-awareness. People with a high degree of Self-awareness know their weaknesses and are not afraid to talk about them. For example, someone who understands that he works poorly under tight deadlines will work hard to plan his time carefully and will let his colleagues know why. It is very important not to mistake such candor for ‘wimpiness’.


So, this is how Self-awareness is defined:

Develop the understanding and recognize the importance of gaining Self-awareness… an understanding of who and what you “Truly” are and what is truly available to you and your quality of life will transcend the majority in EVERY aspect.


Now, let’s analyze it a little bit more. Self-awareness is about knowing who you are. It is the ability to define yourself in terms of the way you think, the way you feel, your wants, your needs, your values, your personal beliefs, your strengths, your weaknesses, your expectations and your aspirations. In a sense, self-awareness is about understanding just how unique you are, and how your uniqueness adds value to the world, as you continually grow and change. 

Self-awareness is a way for us to explore our individual personalities, value systems, beliefs, natural inclinations, and tendencies.  Because we are all different in the way we react to things, learn, and synthesize information, it’s helpful to occasionally spend time in self-reflection to gain a better insight into ourselves.

Self-awareness remains a critical mystery in philosophy, psychology, biology, and other sciences. Self-awareness is a unique type of consciousness, in that it is not always present.

“Knowing Others is Wisdom, Knowing Yourself is Enlightenment.” – Tao Tzu

Knowing one’s self is the key to unlocking the greatest mystery we encounter in life – who we are and why we are here. Self-awareness is about discovering our innermost being; exploring what makes us tick; how we feel about this all and determining where we let it take us. The more technical definition of Self-awareness is “knowing who you are and understanding why we think, feel and behave the way we do.” Without a higher degree of this set of capabilities we are doomed to wander endlessly in a quagmire of our own emotions with little hope of escape and suffer the results of less than effective relationships.

Self-awareness Theory states that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves. Various emotional states are intensified by self-awareness, and some people sometimes try to reduce or escape it while some people may seek to increase their self-awareness.

People are more likely to align their behavior with their standards when made self-aware. People will be negatively affected if they don’t live up to their personal standards. Various environmental cues and situations induce awareness of the self, such as mirrors, an audience, or being videotaped or recorded. These cues also increase accuracy of personal memory.


Self-awareness is the awareness of the self as separate from the thoughts that are occurring at any point in time. Without self-awareness the self perceives and believes the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. Self-awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment.


Awareness is the first step in the creation process. As you grow in self-awareness you will better understand why you feel what you feel and why you behave as you behave. That understanding then gives you the opportunity and freedom to change those things you’d like to change about yourself and create the life you want. Without knowing who you are, self acceptance and change become impossible.


In summary, Self-awareness means becoming aware of yourself — your limitations, emotionally and physically and your learning challenges. 


Being self aware is knowing:

·     what you want in your life

·     your strengths and weaknesses

·     what motivates you and what makes you happy

·     what you want to change about yourself or about your life

·     your achievements so far

·     how you relate to others

·     you need to improve as a person

·     your most important beliefs and values

·     how you see yourself as a person 


In the next article, I will discuss the importance of achieving the Self-awareness as a pre-cursor to balancing one’s life.


In the meantime, I encourage you to share your Self-awareness story on this blog and I promise to read your experiences.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.

About Dr. Surya

Using Quantum Physics and business research, Dr. Surya explores the correlation between the science of consciousness and patterns in the business world, to suggest innovative ways of using this wisdom to lead and succeed in a business environment that is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. Self-awareness is the awareness of the self as separate from the thoughts that are occurring at any point in time. Without self-awareness the self perceives and believes the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. Self-awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment. Along with his work as an Author, Writer, Blogger and popular Internet Radio Talk Show Host, Dr. Surya is in-demand as a public speaker. Clients include small to large corporations and individuals.

2 comments

  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You obviously know what youre talking about,
    why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

    • What are you talking about? Have you looked around the web site? There are over 500 articles that I have written / posted and I write new articles all the time. Is that not enough to read? Thanks for your interest.

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