The Benefits of Self-Awareness

By Humber River Hospital

Written by: Shelley Aronov-Jacoby, Clinical Social Worker

“Knowing yourself is life’s eternal homework”- Felicia Day

Becoming more self-aware is the first step in aspects of personal growth.

Why choose to write about this? Why now? In the past two years, we have experienced a global pandemic that has affected life on all levels. We often concentrated on the macro and micro level of the impact. However, how much of those efforts have any of us placed into taking an honest look within ourselves to see how we have been impacted? On a deeper micro level into the self? This subject is too vast for a short article, but I will present some of the key points below.

As a social worker, having self-awareness is an important part of preparing to encounter patients, families, and the system. While we have a multitude of encounters, it is most necessary to be aware of our biases in order to practice equality and fairness. It allows us to create better emotional intelligence.

Self-awareness is a practice. For many, an overlooked or an uncomfortable practice. You see, it takes humility and strength to allow oneself to open up, to dig deep within, and sit with what you see, feel, and observe. With awareness of self, you can regulate your interior condition, which has a ripple effect through your behaviour and actions. It is a practice that can challenge your thoughts, your behaviour and sense of self. When done consistently, you are better able to regulate your emotions and responses. From there, you are able to recognize where your thoughts and emotions are leading you, and hence, make the necessary changes you need.

Benefits of developing self-awareness:

  • Being better able to manage and regulate your emotions
  • Better communication
  • Better decision-making skills
  • Improved relationships
  • Higher levels of happiness
  • More confidence
  • Better job satisfaction
  • Better leadership skills
  • Better overall perspective
  • More likely to make better choices[1]

Examples of developing self-awareness:

  • Be curious about who you are. How far you will go on your journey to understand yourself depends on what you are ready to explore and experience.
  • Let your walls down. Try to let go of any judgement and the instinctual urge to protect yourself. Through a willingness and openness to yourself, you can let go of your defenses, thereby seeing yourself in different ways than what you have always assumed.
  • Keep a journal and note what triggers positive feelings. This is also good practice of becoming mindful.
  • Go-ahead, ask others how they see you. Be brave enough to receive feedback about yourself in various situations.
  • If you are upset with someone, take a third person perspective. Often their experience will likely be different from yours. It is common for us to believe others will frame their situation in the same way as yours, but this is not often the case. We all come with various degrees of experiences and perspectives. Drop your defenses and ask others where they are at, be willing to receive feedback. This will also lend insight into awareness of yourself.
  • Keep checking in with yourself. Clinically, the most effective method for self-awareness is to pause, and do a brief check in to where you are at in this moment. How are you feeling right now? What is driving this feeling?
  • Remain open to continuous learning. Each experience will reveal things about yourself.
  • Ask yourself how is what I am learning serving me? What else do I need and what needs to happen for me to obtain this? [2]

Having self-awareness gives us the power to influence outcomes; helps us become better decision-makers and gives us more self-confidence. We can communicate with clarity and intention, which allows us to understand things from multiple perspectives. It frees us from assumptions and biases.

References 

[1] Examples from: contentmentquesting.com/benefits-of-self-awareness/

[2] Examples from: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/what-self-awareness-how-can-you-cultivate-it-ncna1067721