Self-awareness: How to cultivate this skill

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Self-awareness is our ability to attend to and understand our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as well as how they impact us and our surroundings.  

This internal self-awareness is one of the most significant pillars of the process of self-improvement. Being self-aware can help you understand your wants, needs, desires, your strengths and weaknesses in a better way. It is also suggested to be a predictor of success and happiness, as well as enhances one’s self-esteem by aiding them to move forward while working on their weaknesses.

But, does it only have positive effects?

Researchers found that when a person focuses on the negative emotional aspects of their personal problems, rather than reflecting upon a constructive problem-solving approach during self-awareness, they tend to show negative effects being experienced by the individual. These effects include building a victim mindset and experiencing high anxiety.  

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand that self-examination focuses on insights inclined towards problem-solving rather than self-harming behaviour. 

Similar to this thought, self-reflection can be practised in two ways. First is the problem-solving approach where people constructively reflect on how they can overcome a problem to achieve their goals. And the other is the self-focused approach where people focus on understanding, containing and/or reducing their negative emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Individuals tend to show a personal preference regarding these two approaches and it has been suggested that individuals practicing problem-solving rather than self-focused approaches are more likely to achieve their goals. Henceforth, try to focus on the constructive part whenever you engage in introspection or self-reflection.

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Methods to cultivate self-awareness:

  1. Self-awareness Questions

The most popular and used method to build self-awareness involves asking yourself certain questions. These questions can further be divided into 4 categories: 

  1. Self-awareness questions about values and life goals:

These questions help you to refine your goals and identify the core values that act as internal motivators for these life goals. 

  • What does your “ideal self” look like?
  • What kinds of dreams and goals do you have? And why are some of these goals more important than the others?
  • What can you do today to work on your dreams and goals?
  • What according to you are the 5 most crucial things in each of the following categories: career, family, relationships, love, money and passion.
  • What motivates you to look forward to tomorrow? What excites you the most in life?

  1. Self-awareness questions about personality:

These questions will help you to better understand yourself and why you sometimes act in a certain way.

  • What could be three words that can help you to describe yourself?
  • Is your personality similar to that of your parents, grandparents, and/or guardians?
  • What do you admire most about yourself?
  • What is your biggest weakness? What could you do today to work on any one of your weaknesses?
  • What is your biggest strength? How would you use your strengths today?
  • Do you make decisions logically or intuitively? 


  1. Self-awareness questions about relationships:

These questions will help you to better understand your close relationships, reasons for conflicts amongst them, and ways to effectively cope with them.

  • What do you think about your current relationships?
  • What can you do to work on your close relationships?
  • Who do you think you love the most? How can you better communicate this to them?
  • What could be a few good moments about your close relationships?
  • What could be a breaking moment in terms of relationships? 
  • What could be the major reasons behind your conflicts within relationships? How can you prevent this in the future?

  1. Daily self-awareness questions of journaling:

Building a habit of journaling can help improve self-awareness as writing down thoughts and feelings after each day helps to identify your common triggers for anger and/or other emotions. 

  • What were a few highlights of your day?
  • What was the best part of your day?
  • Which emotions do you feel most coherent within yourself today?
  • What could be the possible reasons that make you feel this?
  • What could be a few things that made you feel grateful today?
  • What could be something that you learned today?
  • What would you change about your day if you could?

It’s okay to not have a definite answer for each question, the important thing is to keep asking yourself these questions to better understand and work on yourself. Furthermore, there are still some blind spots that we ourselves are not aware of and sometimes self-awareness questions tend to overlook these blind spots due to our defense mechanisms.  

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So, how do we work on the blind spots?

Using help from others is an effective method to identify your blind spots. To do this, you can take feedback from specific individuals who provide honest feedback. For example, taking feedback of what could be your strengths and weaknesses from your friends. And to give more weight to their feedback, ask them to provide some examples of why they think these particular traits are expressed through your behavior.   

  1.  Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is an awareness that not only helps to consciously direct our thoughts towards the inner state of being but also helps to increase attention to the present moment, in a non-judgmental manner. It further helps to calm us down if we find ourselves in conflict with our thoughts and emotions. 

To learn mindfulness meditation, follow the next steps:

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit without distractions and make sure to keep your back and neck straight.
  2. Take deep breaths and focus on your breathing as you exhale and inhale. Feel the air moving in and out of yourself, focus on your stomach as you breathe.
  3. If any other thought comes to your mind, try to acknowledge it and let it go. Try not to ignore them, but also don’t think too much about them as you focus again on your breathing. 
  4. Strive for a minute or so initially and work your way up to longer periods.

You can further upgrade your mindful meditation by focusing on your senses (including what you are smelling, what are hearing, what surface your body is touching, and if you can sense some taste in your mouth) while meditating.

Remember, the more aware you are about yourself, the more positive actions you can take to align your dream and reality. And to introspect yourself on different dimensions with an action-oriented approach, you can use Joyup Genie’s personalized introspection. 

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