Dr. Whitney Gordon-Mead quote

“Resting in Awareness, we transform all the ‘stuff’ of our lives.” ~ Ram Dass

What is self-awareness? And why is it important?

Briefly, self-awareness is the ability to recognize your emotional shifts, pinpoint your triggers, and view situations from another person’s perspective. A benefit of being conscious of your emotions and triggers is that it’s the first step in being able to regulate them, thus allowing you to respond more intentionally in the future. The advantage of seeing things from another person’s point of view is reduced conflict and more meaningful relationships.

According to New York Times best-selling author and leadership guru Tasha Eurich, 95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, but only 10–15% of people actually possess this skill. This means that they do not know who they are, how others perceive them, or the bigger role they are meant to fulfill in the world. Thankfully, self-awareness is a skill that can be developed. 

There are two main types of self-awareness: internal and external. Both are essential for transforming your unwanted habits, routines, impulses, and reactions to more desirable behaviors. Internal self-awareness is the cognizance of your values, thoughts, and emotions. External self-awareness is the understanding of how you’re viewed by others. 

Self-awareness, both internal and external, is foundational for revealing your full potential. When you can embody self-awareness, you have a more holistic understanding of yourself and how you fit in the world.

Types of Self-Awareness

Internal Self-Awareness

Internal self-awareness refers to an inner understanding of your values, thoughts, passions, motivations, needs, emotional triggers, behaviors, and affect on others. If your internal self-awareness is high, then you tend to make choices that are in alignment with who you truly are. This means that you’ll enjoy a more fulfilling life. On the other hand, if your internal self-awareness is low, you may choose actions that result in undesirable outcomes. For example, enduring an incompatible job or relationship because you’re unsure of what you really want. 

External Self-Awareness

External self-awareness concerns your consciousness around how others perceive you. When your external self-awareness is high, you can accurately see yourself from the point of view of another person. This enables you to build more solid and fulfilling relationships. However, if your external self-awareness is low, there can be a disconnect between how you think you come across to others and how you are actually seen. For example, your colleagues might misconstrue your stress-induced assertiveness as intimidation. 

Reveal Your Greatest Potential 

Having insight into the types of self-awareness—internal and external—helps unlock the door to a deeper understanding of yourself and can reveal your greatest potential. This can powerfully transform your personal and professional development journey.

Encourage Internal Self-Awareness

Activating your internal self-awareness allows you to better manage yourself. This can lead to better outcomes and increased opportunities.

Introspection is a great way to uncover new gifts and passions. These discoveries may direct you to more significant challenges and opportunities, such as a more fulfilling career path. Introspection assists you in recognizing unwanted emotional patterns and managing your responses more effectively. This can help turn potential conflicts into opportunities for understanding and collaboration.

To encourage internal self-awareness, turn to introspective practices like mindfulness, meditation, or journaling. As you consistently tune into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without judgment, you’ll discover patterns and illuminate insights that can transform your evolutionary experience.

Cultivate External Self-Awareness

External self-awareness complements your internal understanding by offering insights into how you’re perceived by others. This awareness can reveal blind spots in your self-perception and lead to valuable personal and professional growth. 

Actively seeking feedback and being open to critique is essential for cultivating external self-awareness. For instance, you may think of yourself as a competent communicator, but feedback from colleagues might disclose that you have a tendency to monopolize conversations or disregard differing viewpoints. Such constructive input can point out areas of improvement and potential, which will effectively facilitate growth in your interpersonal and professional skills.

Together, internal and external self-awareness can “transform all the ‘stuff’ of” your life to reveal your greatest potential. Internal self-awareness allows you to align your actions with your values and passions, while external self-awareness helps ensure your adaptability to thrive in almost any situation.

Finding a balance of internal and external self-awareness will ideally allow you to see yourself as others perceive you. Those who master this skill are more creative, confident, successful, and fulfilled. They enjoy better relationships, garner greater respect, and are more effective and higher earning leaders. 

For assistance with activating your greatest potential, click here and claim your free Core Values Assessment: Aligning Your Core Values To Your Authentic Self.