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Self Awareness and Self Esteem

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: October 10th, 2020

self awareness

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In order to improve yourself and make positive changes in life, it is very important to develop self awareness and self esteem. Working with many clients it is obvious that self awareness can help us to understand our strengths and weaknesses which does help to improve self esteem. According to Tasha Eurich (2017), about 85% of people are not very self-aware at all, even though many believe they are.

So what exactly is self awareness, and what does it have to do with your self esteem?

Self awareness is knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and what makes you act the way you do. Being more self aware can improve self esteem (Unal 2014). Self awareness also leads to self acceptance and a more realistic assessment of one’s own achievements.

You will need some guidance to become more self aware. With my experience in this area I can help you on this journey by explaining how self awareness can boost your self esteem, increase your self confidence and move you closer to where you want to be in life. So, let’s do this!

Self awareness is so important

self awareness is important for your self esteem

If you want to change your life in any way you need to know yourself before you can act. You need to know what you need to do to head in the right direction and you can’t do that until you know yourself.

In addition, being self aware will mean that you will be better able to choose a suitable career and lifestyle which will satisfy you. Being self aware can enrich the quality of your life because it will help you move closer to living the life of your dreams.

Becoming more self aware is a stepping stone to reaching your true potential and living a life full of purpose and meaning. Discovering who you are will enable you to give more of yourself to others, benefitting your relationships as well as helping to build your self esteem and confidence. True happiness can only be achieved when you are living in a way that is aligned with your values.

Self awareness can help you understand your needs and your goals, so you can move forward with more confidence. When you have goals to aim for, and especially when they reflect what you really want, your self motivation will increase. Each small step towards your goal, each milestone, can build your self esteem and encourage you to continue on your journey in life.

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The Relationship Between Self esteem and Self Awareness


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In some studies there have been suggestions that self awareness can have negative impacts on self esteem. Other studies show the opposite.

Recovery from accidents that cause severe injuries, such as brain trauma, can be very difficult mentally on patients, and self awareness can lead to an identity crisis and an understanding of the extent of injuries which lowers self esteem (Carroll and Coetzer, 2011). In less severe accidents, patients can actually learn a lot about themselves as they recover and can become more self aware and improve self esteem after recovery.

This study tested how self awareness improved and its effect on self esteem of those who participated in group work. This group work centred around discussions of spirituality. Increased self awareness increased self esteem noticeably.

Research seems to suggest that self awareness can be negative if it focuses on failure, or positive if it focuses on success (Wicklund, 1975). Of course, each of us has our own idea of what success and failure is. And whether we believe we are successful or not depends on what we tell ourselves or what we are told by others. Therefore, having high self esteem will likely make self awareness a tool for feeling even more confident.

People with low self esteem will need to actively work to focus on success and positive attributes rather than what causes them to fail. If this is done, then self awareness could help to build self esteem.

How can you become more self aware?

I believe problems in life make you more aware of who you are so that you can develop physically, mentally and spiritually. Each experience can be a learning experience and help us move in the right direction, if we allow it.

Becoming self aware is an ongoing process. Make it your priority to get to know yourself, your dreams, achievements, strengths and weaknesses. The important thing is not to see weaknesses as failure, we all need to develop in certain areas where we are not so strong.

Here are some tips you can use to become more self aware:

  • Write down your goals and keep track of progress – If you want to use self awareness for self improvement, you need to set yourself some goals. Think of this like your own manifesto for life. Write down your goals in life, however big or small they may be. You can split them into categories such as personal life, career and so on. Monitor your progress over the days, weeks and months. Write about the setbacks and how you deal with them. This is a great way to keep yourself in check, and you can use these notes to self-review, allowing you to re-evaluate your actions and your goals and make changes as necessary. Remember to enjoy the journey and what you learn about yourself.
  • Self help audiobooks – I have listed some great self improvement audiobooks here which will certainly help you. These books get my highest recommendation! Listen to them on the go, on the way to work or at home.
  • Meditation – Meditation, when done right, increases your awareness of the present moment and all existence. It begins with focusing on your breathing and letting go of all the noise that in your mind. In this higher state of awareness and peacefulness, you may find answers to some very important questions. Read this meditation guide to get started.
  • Ask your loved ones and friends for support – sometimes, self reflection is not enough. It is important to have others around us who we can rely on for honest feedback, to help us reflect on our actions and our goals. It is important to reach out to those who are willing to be honest, critical and objective. Sometimes it’s as easy as saying something like “I know I need to work on listening more carefully, so can you do me a favour and let me know if I seem distracted or not paying attention”.
  • Get regular feedback at work – complimenting the feedback you receive from your friends and family, going through the formal feedback process at work can be extremely useful if done right. It is important to be open minded rather than get defensive if there is criticism. The trick to being positive about criticism is to see it as helpful feedback that can help you improve. Try and see this as help to move forward, not only in your career but also in your relationships outside of work. Getting regular feedback can help you track your progress and lead to greater positive self awareness.
  • Beliefs and values – your religious and moral beliefs. When you have examined your beliefs and values you should start to live them. If your life places you in conflict with your values or beliefs, this can be very difficult. You need to confront and deal with these issues. Never compromise on your true values as a human being, ever!

Other helpful tools that will build your self awareness positively

Self hypnosis – how self hypnosis can help you solve many problems you may be facing, and improve on your weaknesses.

Self talk – remove negative inner talk that discourages you. Learn to support yourself by developing more positive inner self talk.

References

  • Carroll, E., & Coetzer, R. (2011). Identity, grief and self-awareness after traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychological rehabilitation21(3), 289-305. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09602011.2011.555972
  • Coholic, D. (2005). The Helpfulness of Spiritually Influenced Group Work in Developing Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem: A Preliminary Investigation, The Scientific World Journal, vol. 5, Article ID 212189. https://doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2005.99
  • Eurich, T. (2017). Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life. Currency. https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/31522008-insight
  • Ünal, S. (2012). Evaluating the effect of self-awareness and communication techniques on nurses’ assertiveness and self-esteem. Contemporary nurse43(1), 90-98.
  • Wicklund, R. A. (1975). Objective self-awareness. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 8, pp. 233-275). Academic Press.
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Website Author and Editor Bio

Photo of Karl Perera, MA, DipLC Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.