How to develop self awareness

10 Tips for Leaders to Improve Their Self-Awareness

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What is self-awareness?

How important is self-awareness in leadership and business?

What are self-awareness skills?

Tips for becoming more self-aware

Sean Peek

Business News Daily

Contributing Writer

Updated Jan 23, 2023

The ability to monitor yourself is one of the most important traits you can have as a leader. Here's how to improve your self-awareness.

  • Self-awareness is the ability to monitor your own emotions and reactions.
  • Studies show that people who have great self-awareness are better leaders because of it.
  • There are many ways to improve self-awareness, like setting boundaries and practicing self-discipline.
  • This article is for leaders who want to improve their self-awareness.

What is the most important characteristic of a leader? Some might say it’s integrity. Others might say it’s being a good motivator. But psychologist and author Sherrie Campbell, author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person, believes self-awareness is the key factor in leadership success.

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the ability to monitor your own emotions and reactions. It lets you know your strengths, weaknesses, triggers, motivators and other characteristics. Being self-aware means taking a deeper look at your emotions, why you feel a certain way, and how your sentiments could turn into reactions.

Tip: Learning how to identify emotions as they happen increases your self-awareness.

Practicing self-awareness allows you to react better to situations or people who might set you off, which is a healthy skill to cultivate – especially as a leader. When you’re aware of your emotions and how you handle them, you’re better equipped to process and work through them, avoiding unnecessary conflict. This will also help you set a good example for your team and make them more comfortable approaching you with questions or concerns. Even if you’re not where you want to be as a leader, developing self-awareness and acknowledging areas you need to work on is the first step.

How important is self-awareness in leadership and business?

Without self-awareness, leaders can appear arrogant. If you cannot be personable, or know when you are crossing a line, how can you lead a company?

The need for self-awareness extends to other business situations, too. Think about how crucial self-awareness is in giving sales pitches or handling feedback, for instance; if you are not aware of how you will react or do not have a way to prevent a negative reaction, you could get yourself in trouble.

Did you know? Coping mechanisms developed in childhood can prevent you from achieving goals. By becoming aware of these automatic reactions, you can opt out of using them when they provide no benefit.

Self-awareness is also helpful for presentations. Many people get nervous when delivering pitches, speeches or even notes at a meeting. Self-awareness can help. If you use too many filler words during presentations, practice your presentation and have someone clap every time you use a word you want to avoid. If you tend to sway or pace around while presenting, limit your ability to move by sitting at the table with your client or using a podium.

What are self-awareness skills?

In addition to being aware of your own emotions, self-awareness involves knowing how you will react to others.

“Self-awareness keeps us grounded, attuned and focused,” said Campbell in her book. “When leaders are grounded, they can be efficient and deliberate in staying on task and being attuned to those around them. Leaders who can control their minds and emotions help to guide those around them to develop their own self-knowledge and success.

These are some important self-awareness skills:

  • Empathy: When you fine-tune your self-awareness abilities, you will become more empathetic thanks to heightened emotional intelligence.
  • Adaptability: If you know how you will react, you could avoid a tough situation by taking a walk or just taking a few deep breaths.
  • Confidence: By accepting and even embracing your flaws, needs and strengths, you will increase your ability to be vulnerable, which allows for stronger relationships in the workplace. Maintaining confidence is key to success.
  • Mindfulness: When you’re self-aware, you become more mindful of the present moment, allowing yourself to take situations as they happen rather than dwelling on the past or projecting into the future.
  • Patience: While your immediate reaction might be to scold an employee for a mistake or let your frustrations out on your team, self-awareness will help you practice patience, even in the face of conflict.
  • Kindness: This is achievable when you put aside your own feelings to support another person. Even if you’re having a bad day, being self-aware and realizing your workers are also human beings with similar struggles can help you be more sympathetic.

Key takeaway: Self-awareness rarely happens immediately. It takes time, commitment and practice.

Tips for becoming more self-aware

Learning to be aware of yourself isn’t always easy, but it can help you become a more effective leader. Here are 10 tips for improving self-awareness.

  1. Keep an open mind. When you are able to regulate your own emotional world, you can be more attuned to others’ emotions. To be a successful leader, you need to be curious about new people and all they have to offer. This shows that you can be a team player and don’t need to be Number One all the time. The more open you are to others, the more creative an entrepreneur you will become.
  2. Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses. Self-aware individuals know their strengths and weaknesses and can work from that space. Being mindful of this means knowing when to reach out for assistance and when you can handle a situation on your own.
  3. Stay focused. An important part of being a leader is making connections, but you can’t do that if you’re distracted. Train yourself to focus for long periods of time without getting sucked into social media, emails or other small distractions to improve your productivity.
  4. Set boundaries. A leader needs to put strong limits in place. Be warm toward others, but say no when it’s needed. Be serious about your work and your passions, and keep your boundaries firm to maintain the integrity of your goals and the work you put into them.
  5. Know your emotional triggers. Self-aware individuals can identify their emotions as they are happening. Don’t repress your emotions or deny their causes; instead, bend and flex with them, and fully process them before communicating with others.
  6. Embrace your intuition. Successful people learn to trust their instincts in decision-making and take the risks associated with those choices. Your instincts are based on the survival of the fittest and the need to succeed. They will tell you what to do next, so learn to trust your intuition.
  7. Practice self-discipline. Good leaders tend to be disciplined in every area of their lives. This trait provides them with the enduring focus necessary for strong leadership.
  8. Consider how your actions affect others. We often act without thinking first, focusing only on our own needs. While self-awareness requires acknowledging your emotions, you must also identify how you handle those feelings and how any subsequent actions impact those around you. Being more considerate of others will help you navigate difficult situations.
  9. Apologize when necessary. Mistakes happen, but self-awareness will help you recognize when your slip-ups require apologies. Maybe you lashed out at your staff, or perhaps you’ve been difficult to reach lately. Whatever your mistake was, saying you’re sorry (and meaning it) and then changing your behavior is the best way to move forward.
  10. Ask for feedback. While being self-aware means understanding yourself without input from others, it takes courage (and self-awareness) to ask for honest employee feedback. Doing this acknowledges your natural biases toward yourself (which we all have), and helps you gain a more objective view.

Nicole Fallon contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images

Sean Peek

Business News Daily Contributing Writer

Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.

What is self-awareness? And how can you cultivate it?

Let’s time travel for a moment back to say, the year 1100.

We’re sitting at our wooden bench with our goose quill composing a list of traits we deem to be indisputably good in a friend, lover, colleague or family member.

What are some things we might put on this old-timey list? Probably words like “kind,” “loyal,” “generous” and “patient,” to name but a few.

Now let’s return to the present day. We’re sitting (or standing) at our desk typing up that very list. We’d probably jot down the same virtues we’d have scribbled down in 1100, but we might add some relatively new concepts.

On my list, I would certainly add “self-aware” as a quality of a person I’d want in my life — and a person I’d want to be.

But what precisely does it mean to be self-aware? How did self-awareness emerge as a venerable trait and how do you cultivate it?

‘Self-awareness’ centers on recognizing and managing our emotions

“The term self-awareness can likely be traced back to Freud and Jung, but in the modern parlance, I think it arrived back on the radar around the time Daniel Goleman published 'Emotional Intelligence' nearly two decades back,” says John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author.

“In effect, self-awareness is the recognition of one's own emotional state at any given point in time,” Duffy says. “The argument suggests that we are, far too often, wholly unaware of the emotional state we are currently in, and the degree to which that state influences our behavior and thought process. To the degree that we can manage our emotional states, we are better able to manage these other elements of our lives as well.”

Amy McManus, a marriage and family therapist adds that “self-awareness is [also] the ability to look at your own words and actions from a perspective outside of yourself; to see yourself as others see you.”

In this sense, we can see how self-awareness is a way of introspection that doesn’t shut the world out, but rather brings it in for assessment against one’s own feelings and behaviors. It entails, as Katie Krimer, a licensed clinical social worker describes it, “meta-cognition: the ability to think about thinking [and] implies the ability to recognize ourselves as we see ourselves, but also to understand how others may see us based on what we know about human behavior.

We tend to think we’re self-aware — when we’re not

I can’t count how many times I’ve dismissed people (namely, ex-boyfriends) by declaring them “not self-aware.” I say this like I’m positively teeming with this meta-cognitive ability.

I might be wrong about just how self-aware I am; many of us are.

“Social scientists have discovered that people often grossly overestimate their level of self-awareness,” says Tara Well, associate professor of psychology at Barnard College.

Krimer adds that many people “feel that they know and understand themselves much better than they actually do. They may even have avoided building self-awareness because it involves looking at oneself as honestly as possible, and this can often invoke feelings of shame that can be difficult to handle.”

Self-awareness is a vital skill in a fulfilling life

In any case, self-awareness is an important practice to develop.

“In the past, [lack of self-awareness] might have been written off as a benign human quirk, but as our world becomes increasingly complex, the need for self-awareness is growing to paramount importance,” says Well. “Self-awareness may be the most vital skill we have to navigate our future challenges.”

Duffy adds that “if you can manage your own emotions, you are more than likely able to exert an impact on the emotional vibe of a family, a work situation, or a social encounter. All of that is to say, self-awareness can be incredibly useful in driving a more aware, fulfilled life.”

Here are some tips to cultivate self-awareness

If you want to cultivate or enhance self-awareness, here’s what mental health experts recommend:

1. Be curious about who you are

“To be self-aware, a person needs to be curious about themselves,” says Ana Jovanovic, psychologist and life coach at Parenting Pod. “Our minds and bodies are territories for which we yet need road maps. Every person has some roads they do not wish to take, and some roads they feel are worth exploring. How far you’ll go in your journey of understanding yourself depends on what you’re ready to explore and experience.

2. Let your walls down

When we see something we don’t immediately like in ourselves, our first reaction could be to defend ourselves from it, which is partly why self-awareness is so challenging.

Try to let go of judgment and the instinctual urge to protect yourself.

“You become self-aware through a willingness to let go of defensiveness, and an openness to seeing yourself in a way that is different from what you have always assumed,” says McManus. “Often this means you have to be willing to see yourself in a less-than-positive light.”

3. Look in the mirror — literally

“In my own research, I teach people to use mirrors as a meditation tool that increases their self-awareness,” says Well. “When people first look at themselves, they are often very critical. I teach them how to shift their perspective and use their reflection for deeper self-awareness. They learn to track their attention and emotions and gain new insights into how their thoughts are affecting them in real time — this sort of mimics face-to-face conversations that involve deep listening and being fully present with another person.

4. Keep a journal and note what triggers positive feelings

“Journaling is a great way to start this process of being mindful,” says Celeste Viciere, a licensed mental health clinician. “As you are journaling, pay attention to your day. Ask yourself how you feel. If there are negative feelings associated with the day, think about what triggers may have caused them to bubble up. For any positive feelings, think about what may have triggered you to feel happy.”

5. Substitute some screen time with people time

“The average amount of time we spend alone gazing at our screens now surpasses our time in face-to-face contact,” says Well. “Science tells us that we need reflections to develop our sense of self in relation to others. As we spend more time alone and on our devices, we miss this essential human mirroring. The symptoms of lack of mirroring are becoming more apparent in our society: increases in anxiety, lack of empathy and intense self-objectification (as in the selfie craze). There’s a call — if not an urgent cry — for greater self-awareness and reflection.”

6. Ask others how they see you

Not only should we build out our face-to-face social actions, but also use a portion of this time to learn about how our loved ones perceive us.

“Talk to your closest loved ones and be courageous enough to ask how they perceive you in various situations,” says Krimer. “Getting perspective on how you behave or come off in certain situations can help us bring into our awareness something that was previously invisible to us. Therapy is great for this, too.”

7. Angry at someone? Take the ‘third-person’ perspective

Ultimately the benefits of self-awareness are to serve not only you in emotional management, but also to serve your relationships.

Michal Strahilevitz, a consumer psychologist and marketing professor at St. Mary's College of California, speaks to the importance of catching yourself when a situation or person agitates you.

“If you catch yourself raising your voice, you may feel justified due to being upset,” says Strahilevitz. “However, for the person with you (second person), the experience will be quite different. Trying to imagine yourself in that person's place will improve self awareness, reduce defensiveness, and quite possibly improve your relationship with that person as well. Third person is particularly effective for people who are overly self-critical or who trend to be self-destructive. What would you advise if you were a caring friend watching your behavior? That would be taking a third person perspective.”

8. Keep checking in with yourself (and a list of feelings)

“Clinically, the most effective method for the development of self-awareness is a pause and brief check-in with oneself: ‘How am I feeling right now? What do I think might be driving that feeling?’” says Duffy. “This may seem absurdly simple, but in practice, my clients find it to be quite difficult. Many need to carry a list of possible emotions with them as they begin this exercise, as the pat answers (‘I feel fine.’; ‘I feel bad. ’; ‘I feel angry.’) are not particularly rich or productive.”

9. Keep learning — the journey never ends

While this article hopefully helps with pointers, there is a trove of wonderful material out there that can be of guidance in your ever-evolving journey towards self-awareness.

"Read and learn about the psychology and practices of self-awareness," recommends Krimer. "Get excited about gaining the knowledge that will in turn teach you about yourself. There are so many incredible psych books and workbooks that encourage the cultivation of our self-awareness. School of Life is a terrific company that publishes books and other novelty card sets that help explain in a very direct, clear and smart way, the importance of building self knowledge and the impacts this has on everything else in our life."


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Clarity, acceptance and depth. How to develop self-awareness

Too much introspection can kill you

Late at night, a blind old man was about to return home after visiting his friend. And he asked to take a lantern with him. The friend was surprised: “Why do you need a lantern? You won't see anything anyway."

"I won't see, but others will see me and won't stumble."

A friend gave the old man a lantern and he left. But before he could go far, a guy stumbled upon him. nine0006

The old man was indignant: “Don't you watch where you are going? Can't you see the lantern?

Lantern? Well, it’s turned off, ”the guy answered.

Reflection is like a flashlight - it can provide light, but it does not guarantee vision.

Read also - 9 main life truths that you should not forget

The blind man did not need light. However, taking the lantern, he relied on it and became careless. So he ran into a stranger. nine0007

An obsession with self-improvement can have the same effect. Constantly examining your thoughts and feelings, this incessant mode of introspection leads to getting stuck. Instead of becoming more self-aware, you lose touch with yourself and with others.

"The more powerful and original the mind, the more it will tend to the religion of loneliness"
Aldous Huxley

Reflection is a rethinking of thought, but it does not always lead to understanding. nine0007

Contrary to popular belief, people who constantly reflect on their past thoughts, actions, and feelings are more tense, preoccupied, and less satisfied with their work and personal relationships. Introspection draws them into its abyss, and they break away from reality.

But thoughts about yourself do not reflect self-awareness. You can spend a lot of time introspection without thinking about yourself.

Constantly examining your thoughts, feelings and behavior does not mean that you understand them. nine0026

The difference between self-awareness and self-reflection is clearly visible in the process.

In the past, everyone can find bad moments, mistakes and losses. Imagine them as black thunderclouds floating low across the sky.

Remembering, chewing, analyzing those events, you immerse yourself in them and risk getting lost. Self-awareness will help to observe them from the side for a while, without thinking or comparing them, and move on.

"The problem with introspection is that it has no end"
Philip K. Dick

The Reflection Mode Trap

Many people approach self-improvement expecting to find the perfect answer. But mindfulness and mindfulness is not about finding the right formula, but about evaluating the search itself.

As John Kabat-Zinn said: "Mindfulness means paying attention in a special way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without prejudice."

Mindfulness and awareness creates space for:

  • Awareness, not thinking;
  • Openness and curiosity, not judgment;
  • Flexibility of attention, not resistance.

Part of the people rely on introspection like a blind old man on a lantern. The trap is that too much introspection takes you further away from yourself instead of closer.

Interesting read — How to become a winner in life? Tell yourself a new story

Where does this lead? nine0093

1. Self-doubt.

Thinking a lot, you lose touch with yourself and start to devalue yourself. You become a victim of your inner critic. Finding who you are can turn you upside down.

2. Chewing on memories.

Rumination (chewing) of memories is an indicator that you cannot accept reality as it is. It's like you're watching the same movie over and over again. You know the storyline by heart, but pretend that no other ending is possible. nine0007

3. Obsessed search for truth.

You use introspection to find the perfect answer. But there is simply no such answer. Everyone has different problems, and there is no one perfect solution for all occasions. As you search, you stop feeling like yourself, and no answer is good enough.

4. Perfectionism.

You are not satisfied with what you think or do. Your standards are too high, and first of all you raise them for yourself. That's why you rarely start to act - if the action is imperfect, it is not worth it to perform it. nine0007

How to develop self-awareness?

Self-awareness is not only you

To know yourself is to accept yourself.

Self-awareness requires observing and accepting who you are, not who you should or shouldn't be. Acceptance embraces every part of you, good and bad.

To increase self-awareness, you need to look outside, not just inside.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”

Read also — How does self-confidence begin?

You are changing

Today you are not the same person you were 5 years ago, a year ago or even a week ago. Let go of who you were before. Let go of what you have added or subtracted from your life.

Understand your personal evolution

Write down everything that once defined who you are but is no longer a part of you. Although we shed many beliefs, behaviors, or objects throughout our lives, we are still who we are. nine0007

Self-awareness is not only about how well you know yourself, but how others see you.

Ask for feedback

What are you good at? What makes you a difficult person? Why do some people feel comfortable/uncomfortable around you?

Write your answers. Ask several people to answer these questions. Compare notes. Find out how other people see you.


Watch your thoughts for a while. Don't classify your ideas, don't compare, don't judge. Just watch. nine0007

Take the time to reconnect with the outside world

You are part of a vast universe. We are all interconnected. Your personality affects the world more than your own behavior.

Self-consciousness makes a person more confident, calm and balanced. He accepts himself and reality. Thanks to this, he is in harmony with himself and with others.

He no longer needs a flashlight to make him visible to others. And you?

Articles qualitatively complement the topic:

  • Bury your “I can't”
  • Motivation Secret
  • Let yourself be luxury to make mistakes

BC Platforma

Today you can find a mass of useful information on the development of personality and quality .

Moreover, I take all directions of a person's life and reveal all the most valuable in them.


There is also a part of the deep knowledge, methods and practices that are behind the solid door of our educational platform and is not available to everyone.

You can access them. Moreover, we update them every month and they are “conditionally” free.

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Click "Learn more" button and get connected.

I hope my thoughts on this matter have been helpful to you. Put "Like" and write comments if so. I really appreciate your opinion.

With love, Pavel Bilsky

How to increase self-awareness? nine0001 How to increase self-awareness?

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Self-awareness is the difference between feeling that you won't be stolen and the fear that you aren't smart enough. How you evaluate yourself greatly affects how others will evaluate you. Perception is reality. The more self-awareness you have, the greater the chance that you will succeed. nine0007

There are many factors that affect self-awareness. Use these ten strategies, , to reach the Psychological Ceiling that will allow you to fulfill your true potential. Raise your self-awareness!

1. Take care of your appearance.

A person cannot be judged by their appearance, but appearance completely affects how a person feels. If you know that you do not look very good, then this consciousness also affects how you present yourself and how you will make contact with other people. nine0007

Use this advice to your advantage and take care of your appearance . In most cases, noticeable improvements can be achieved by simple ways : shower and shave regularly, wear clean underwear, and dress in the latest fashion.

This does not mean that you need to spend a lot of money on clothes. Great advice "spend twice as much but get half as much" . Instead of stuffing your closet full of cheap stuff, get the highest quality clothes. This will reduce costs, as expensive items do not wear out quickly and will remain in fashion for a long time. nine0030 By purchasing fewer things, you will free up space in the closet.

2. Walk faster.

One of the easiest ways to find out what people think of themselves is to study their gait . Is she slow? Tired? Or energetic and focused?

Self-confident people walk fast . They have places to go, they have people to meet, and they have important things to do. Even, if you are not in a hurry, then raise your self-awareness by adding a step. nine0031 Walking 25% faster makes you look and feel important.

3. Good posture.

Posture, as well as gait, gives a lot of information. People with stiff shoulders and apathetic movements give rise to a lack of self-confidence . They are not impressed by what they do and do not consider themselves important people.

Keeping a straight posture will automatically make you feel more confident. Stand up straight, keep your head up and maintain eye contact - so You will produce positive inspiration on others, and you will immediately feel stronger and braver .

4. Self-promotion.

One of the best ways to raise self-awareness is listening to motivational speeches . Unfortunately, the opportunity to listen to great speakers is small. But you can fulfill this need by creating a personal advertisement .

Write a 30-60 second speech that describes your strengths and goals. Then Stand in front of a mirror and read this aloud. Do this when you need to raise self-awareness.

5. Recognition.

The more you focus on what you want to achieve, the more reasons why you can't get it. This, by the way, may refer to your weaknesses. The best way to get rid of it is to consciously concentrate on recognition.

Find time every day to0030 make a list in your head of things you can be thankful for . Think of past accomplishments, unique opportunities, love relationships, and positive things in your life. You will be surprised how much you have achieved and will be motivated to achieve goals.

6. Give compliments.

If you have negative thoughts in relation to yourself, then we often throw these feelings onto others or create gossip. To reverse this cycle of negative energy, cheer up the other person with a compliment.

Refuse to be drawn into false gossip and allow yourself to compliment the people around you. This will allow you to become popular and help raise self-awareness. Look for the good in others and you will discover the good in yourself .

7. Sit in the front rows.

At school, in the office, and at social gatherings, everyone in the world tries to sit in the back. People prefer to sit farther away because they are afraid of being noticed . This shows a lack of self-awareness.

Deciding to sit in the front rows, you can overcome this terrifying fear and raise self-awareness. In addition, you will be visible to important people who speak in front of an audience.

8. Speak up.

During group discussions, many people do not speak out because they are afraid to say something stupid and lose respect in the eyes of others. This fear has no basis. People are more understanding than you can imagine. In addition, many people have similar fears. nine0007

Get over yourself and speak out at least once during group discussions, so you will become a good speaker, become confident in your thoughts, and also rush to the leaders.

9. Exercise.

Appearance, physical form significantly increases self-awareness. If you are not in shape, then you feel unreliable, unassembled. Training will improve your physical appearance, add energy and positive emotions.

Discipline and training will not only make you feel better, but also look good, which will give energy for the rest of the day .

10. Focus on giving.

We too often become enemies to ourselves in relation to desires - we concentrate very much on our needs, but do not do this in relation to others .

Learn more