It has become almost a cliche, but it remains an all too true observation: We live in a culture that increasingly prizes self-promotion. Facebook and Instagram are platforms that reward the selfies, the carefully posed food photos of privileged brunches, and the perfectly edited vacation photos.
However, most of us lack self-awareness. We are the loudest ones talking about ourselves and what we have done. We brag about our accomplishments, successes, happiness, and ability to handle any situation. We believe that our life is a shining example worth following. But is it?
In this digital age, it is easy to forget about being self-aware. We want to be seen as flourishing and happy, and we try to portray the ideal lives we wish we could live. But the reality of the fact is, many of us are unaware of our true feelings, motivations, and desires. There is a disconnect between the image we project and our inner selves. We feel disappointed, lonely, and lost. And this takes a hit on our mental selves.
Learning self-development is the key to bridging the gap between our projected selves and our inner selves. Self-development is the process of getting to know ourselves better, understanding our strengths and weaknesses, and setting goals for personal growth. It can help us to become more self-aware, more confident, and more fulfilled in our lives.
It’s time to pause, reflect, and consider how improving lives begins with understanding ourselves better.
So what is self-awareness?
The human mind is fascinating, and one of its most prominent traits is self-awareness. We are the only mammals that can stand outside of ourselves and evaluate our thoughts and behaviors. It’s a fascinating phenomenon we all experience, but when we’re not in that mode, this act of self-reflectivity seems strange to others around us – it poses itself as a question:
Why would anyone want to be self-aware? The answer is complex, but one of the simplest ways to break it down would be to ask yourself: What do you think about yourself? You’re probably thinking something positive now, but that doesn’t mean you know how others see you or what they might be saying about you behind your back.
Self-awareness is an essential part of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others. Self-awareness also helps you tune into how other people see you. Self-aware people recognize their strengths and their challenges. They also know what motivates them and how to set goals that are meaningful to them. It’s a form of self-care but for the mind and the heart.
What causes a lack of self-awareness?
What are some of the causes of lack of self-awareness? In other words, why do people fail, often consistently, to observe and understand themselves, their interactions with others, and the effects of their actions?
Fear of being vulnerable
Self-awareness is a critical personal trait that is a precursor to personal growth and development. People who are not self-aware are afraid to be vulnerable. They are worried that they will be judged or rejected by others, which causes them to remain unaware of their feelings, thoughts, motives, and behaviors.
By encapsulating themselves in their bubble, they have a hard time tuning in to their inner selves and genuinely connecting with the people around them. Which, in turn, makes them question their self-worth.
Fear of their reality shattering
There is a central tenet in psychology that our self-views are frequently slightly askew from reality. We often use first-person pronouns to refer to ourselves, and for a good reason. From the perspective of our minds, we are the be-all and end-all — we are to ourselves what no one else is. But not everyone agrees with this view.
At some point, this view will be the only thing that matters to people. It will be their anchor for their self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem. And when faced with external perspectives, it will be difficult for them to recognize the difference between objective reality and their subjective interpretation of their lives.
Fear of change
Change is terrifying. People are creatures of habit, and the fear of the unknown can make us shy away from positive differences in our lives. It’s not just hard for others to see our flaws, but it can be more challenging for us to see them too. Every time we have a new perspective shift, we learn things about ourselves that we didn’t realize before.
But we shouldn’t be scared because change is inevitable, and we can control how we deal with it if we look inward and become more self-aware.
Fear of the truth
Human beings seem to be naturally hardwired with the reluctance to look at themselves in the mirror because they might immediately see what they don’t like about themselves. People are afraid of this realization. They may be fearful that if they whole-heartedly look at themselves and be more self-conscious, it will force them to decide if they would change.
Fear of being wrong
Humility is underrated. Sure, it looks nice on the surface, but we can’t know its actual value until things go wrong. But sometimes, things do go wrong, and we never want to admit it. This leads to us being afraid to be self-aware because instead of seeing ourselves honestly, we put on a fake persona so that others would see how great we are and we wouldn’t think about our faults.
People fear being self-conscious because it means admitting and accepting their mistakes. It also implies that they require change. Essentially, it can be uncomfortable. It’s much easier to avoid the issue and pretend everything is okay. But when you refuse to accept what you’re doing wrong, you will never be able to develop a positive relationship with others around you, and it will hurt your connections in the long run.
Is it essential to be self-aware?
Lack of self-awareness is a huge issue, not just because it can make you less effective, but because it can make you unhappy. Think about what makes successful people happy. They have a purpose. They know exactly who they are and their self-worth. They have practiced their emotional intelligence to a T.
It also affects our relationships with other people. When we deal with people who lack self-awareness, it’s easy to get frustrated because they’re often unaware of their actions or how their behavior affects others. It’s as if they have blinders and can’t see themselves in context with other people — which can lead to someone getting hurt.
How do we become more self-aware?
Knowing more about yourself has many benefits. Self-awareness helps you become a better version of yourself, make the right decisions, and be confident in them. Here are some ways to be more self-aware:
- Understand that lack of self-awareness is also a symptom of the ego. The ego makes you think you are better than others, believe that you are too cool to hear negative feedback, or think you can do everything yourself.
- Open up to new ways of thinking and listening. It will be uncomfortable at first, but this is an essential step if your goal is to grow. Once you realize that you would like and benefit from new ideas and feedback, you will start to be more self-aware and more open to hearing other people’s objective input about yourself.
- Meditate or journal your thoughts. Looking inward, reflecting, and tuning in more to your thoughts improves our mental health. And during stressful periods of your lives, this is a relaxing refuge for your mind to be in. This is also why meditation and journalling are included in a lot of self-care lists.
- Never be afraid to learn more about yourself. Engaging with other people, reading more on self-help books, or enrolling yourself in personal development courses or classes — these small doable steps help you to learn more about yourself and practice self-awareness.
Expert Insights: How to Enhance Self-Awareness and Eliminate Blind Spots?
Ask self-reflective questions
Seek out different points of view
Consult a licensed therapist or coach
Take personality tests
We can all agree that it is vital to be aware of ourselves. Self-awareness allows us to grow and change as people and identify our weaknesses and counter them before they become a problem. It defines our boundaries of what we are comfortable and uncomfortable with, what we will or will not accept from others, how we treat the world and other people, and how we view ourselves.
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