What is it?

Self-awareness can be defined as the knowledge of who you are, including motivation, traits, thoughts, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, behaviours and qualities making up who you think you are as a person. Self-awareness is something that we develop through looking at ourselves and which can alter and change as we go through our lives. Therefore, self-awareness is something we can all work on from time to time to enable us to develop and improve ourselves. Self-awareness can promote self-care, better self-esteem, confidence, growth and happiness.


Types of self-awareness

Self-awareness can be broken down into two types which are public and private self-awareness. 

Public self-aware refers to the way in which you behave and portray yourself to others in public. Being publically self-aware taps into what we believe to be desired by others and what is deemed to be socially acceptable. This type of self-awareness can be a determinant of our anxiety. You may become anxious if you worry about how others think of you.

Private self-awareness refers to when you become aware of a part of yourself that is a thought, feeling, behaviour, beliefs and so on.  For example, if you feel anxious when you are around someone you are attracted to or a brief feeling of dread when you forgot something important. These are examples of things which you may only know and which are private to you. 


Some people can experience feeling self-conscious which is described as an overly self-aware state. This can sometimes have a significant negative impact on an individual as this can determine how they behave, think and feel. If someone is incredibly self-conscious they may become very aware of those feelings and avoid social situations which may make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Feeling self-conscious can be stressful and result in feelings of anxiety. These can feed into self-esteem and confidence issues. Sometimes the messages we tell our self deeply impacts on how we feel about ourselves. Negative beliefs can be challenged in therapy to improve how you feel about yourself.


Signs and symptoms (how to spot it / what does it feel like)

Lacking self-awareness may negatively impact on your life and you may experience some of the following: 

·      A lack of self-awareness may leave you feeling stuck

·      You may be unable to identify what you need and want

·      You look to others to give you answers

·      You don’t take self-responsibility and may blame others for how your life is

·      You may feel in conflict as you may try to live up to others expectations

·      You are not true to yourself or how you feel often dismissing thoughts and feelings

·      You look for the approval of others

·      You feel unhappy because you dismiss your needs

·      You feel your worth is in external things such as the way you look, what you wear, possessions and status

·      You may struggle to communicate your needs and wants to others

·      You judge yourself a lot

·      You feel disempowered


Good self-awareness allows you to:

·      Identify your needs and wants and can implement them without seeking approval

·      Listen to yourself

·      Take responsibility for your actions and behaviour

·      Have your own answers and you trust yourself

·      To recognise and value your own self-worth

·      Be driven by your own expectations

·      To feel empowered to make changes and set goals

·      To accept yourself for who you are “warts and all”


How to improve your self-awareness

Treatment options

Talking therapies are a great way to invest in yourself to improve your self-awareness. Going to therapy can provide you with a safe and confidential space to face yourself. In therapy, you are offered a non-judgemental space where you can explore your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, core beliefs and inner critic. A professional therapist can help you to identify areas to work on so you become more authentic as the ‘real’ you comes out. Working on self-development and increasing your self-awareness can help you build more confidence, improve your self-esteem, reduce anxiety, reduce stress and promote your well-being.  It can be empowering and liberating to feel in control of how you feel about yourself. Being self-aware can promote a healthy relationship with yourself as you can identify what you need and give yourself the self-care you deserve. If you feel you would benefit from one of your personal health servicesget in touch with one of our experienced therapists at babylon therapy today.

By Helen Rutherford