What Is Self-Awareness?
So, what is self-awareness? There are more than a handful of different ways to respond to that question, but we only need one: namely, self-awareness is composed of self-honesty, reflection, and a realist outlook on life.
Self-awareness entails self-honesty because one cannot be self-aware if they believe in a lie. For example, if we say 1+1 = 3, then we know a falsehood, not the answer to the equation. In similar fashion, when we lie or misrepresent who we are, to ourselves, then we lack self-awareness.
Self-awareness entails self-reflection since one cannot be self-aware without self-reflecting. Our attention is normally focused on the world around us, and so self-awareness necessarily entails that we change the orientation of our attention to be more inwardly focused.
Self-awareness also entails a realist outlook on life. As we said before, we cannot lie to ourselves if we want self-awareness. And that means, we have to acknowledge both the desirable and less than desirable qualities about ourselves. Effectively, we have to be realists about who we are. None of us are perfect, and most of us aren’t all that bad, either.
So, self-awareness is a gestalt; which is to say, the meaning of self-awareness is a result of smaller component parts. And when we lack these smaller component parts, we likewise lack self-awareness. In our case, those component parts are self-honesty, self-reflection, and a realist outlook on life.
What Are The Different Types Of Self-Awareness
Self-awareness can manifest in two qualitatively distinct fashions. On the one hand, we can have a cognitive self-awareness; and on the other hand, we can have an emotional self-awareness. Respectively put, the first kind of self-awareness is in reference to awareness of our own thoughts, and the second kind of self-awareness is in reference to awareness of our own emotions.
When we reflect on our thoughts, we can be self-aware of whether they are optimistic or pessimistic; we can be self-aware of whether we think negatively or positively about others; or, we can be self-aware of whether we are intellectually lazy or rigorous.
The same can be said for our emotions. When we reflect on our emotions, we be self-aware of whether they are neurotic or healthy; we can be self-aware of whether they are happy or sad; or, we can be self-aware about how we feel, or don’t, towards others.
Why Is Self-Awareness Important?
Now that we understand what is meant by self-awareness, we can now answer the question: “why is self-awareness important?”.
Self-awareness is important because:
- Being a good person requires self-awareness.
- To change one’s life, in a directed or guided fashion, requires self-awareness.
- To self-develop requires self-awareness.
If we want to do any of these, then self-awareness is a prerequisite.
Being a good person requires self-awareness because good people never assume they are good. No one is naturally good, in the moral sense. Moral judgement is trained overtime. And so, to determine whether we are good or bad people requires us to self-reflect on our behaviours and decisions.
To change our life, in a directed or guided fashion, we necessarily have to know not only where our life is at the moment, but also where we want our life to be in the future. And if we are to know that, we have to self-reflect.
Not only do we have to self-reflect, but we also have to be honest with ourselves about our current circumstances. Otherwise, we will never get an accurate map of our circumstances. And without an accurate map, we’re sure to get lost.
Self-development requires an incredible amount of self-awareness. In order to change our character or habits requires for us to first know, intimately, those character traits and habits which we seek to change.
We have to be able to accurately assess the deficits and strengths of our character, and likewise determine the discrepancy between our current stages of self-development and our desired end-goals for self-development.