How Self-Aware Are You?

You've probably heard the term self-awareness bandied about over the years from the personal development movement – but what does it mean and how do you know if you have it, or enough of it?

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Self awareness is about noticing and realising things about ourselves. This has to come prior to any decision we might then make to change and improve what we find.

It's about seeing ourselves from the inside as well as from the outside. We bring our intentional focus upon the ways we personally perceive people and situations, and how we deal with them.

Self- awareness involves the consideration of:

  • Whether your present-day perception of the experiences in your life comes from your own past experiences and expectations - which you might unintentionally be overlaying onto the current situation.
  • How you tend to think about things – e.g. do you jump to conclusions; have all-or-nothing thinking; negative judgement in the absence of facts or evidence; assume a thought to be a fact; automatic pessimism; mind-reading and guessing/assuming you know what someone or something really means?
  • Recognising and being able to name and regulate your own emotions so that they are appropriate and not just an automatic reaction based upon your prior conditioning. (However when we're under real threat we do need to be able to react immediately and automatically - to keep ourselves safe.)
  • Noticing your language, tone and non-verbal communication – without necessarily linking them back to where they came from, or trying to change and adapt them at this stage.
  • The impact that your thinking style and emotional reactions, language and behaviour have upon other people and, as a consequence, why they then relate to you in the way they do.

I believe that self-awareness is the first step towards change – we can't change what we can't see and acknowledge in ourselves.

When we are clear about who we are, what we are like and how we impact other people, then comes the next steps towards greater self-development.

Those are the steps of understanding why we are the way we are, and learning new skills to clarify, control, rebalance and choose our thinking patterns, emotional intelligence, and our behaviour. We can transform into a better version of ourselves and create a much more positive ripple effect around us when we choose the path of self-awareness and growth.

I call this process S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life – to make it one of your choosing, and not to blindly accept what has been handed down to you.

The Bigger Picture Of Self-Awareness

Different people live their lives at different levels of awareness and self-development. We see people behaving in ways that show that they're at either a dormant, emerging or enhanced level of self-awareness.

Briefly the traits we might see in each of these three categories of self-awareness are:


The focus is upon the ego and self-gratification

Lack of empathy, compassion or kindness towards others

Tendency towards bigotry, racism, violence and using people to meet own needs

Highly emotional and moody

A lack of personal health care and grooming

Substance abuse and addictions

Lack of self love

Inconsistent self esteem – often masked by bravado

Likely to gossip, shame and blame others

High levels of fear, guilt, shame, jealousy and envy

Preference for pornography and graphic violence and horror

Need to belong to a tribe or gang culture

Relationships tend to be fuelled by drama, fear and neediness


Less focus upon the self and more upon how to help others, showing consideration and empathy

Able to see that there is a 'wider picture' of society and world affairs

Interest in self enhancement

Becoming more able to debate and share reasoned opinions

Show self care and attention to their health and lifestyle

Seeking meaning and purpose in life

Understanding and finding ways to regulate emotions

More tolerance and acceptance of the views of others

Love becomes reciprocal, mature and more rewarding

An interest in self-help literature and in learning more about themselves and other people


Greater tolerance and patience towards others

Heightened insight and an acceptance of the soul's purpose

An enquiring mind with an interest in meditation, neuroscience, quantum science, and the Universe

Sharing of higher values of love, world peace, environmental protection

Seeking of like-minded souls to enhance their ongoing growth and development

Tendency to forgive others – not necessarily to forget, but to know that we all are doing the best we know how in the present circumstances

As you can probably imagine, it's highly unlikely that someone with a dormant (or latent) level of awareness will be reading this!

We can overlap the later two stages and shift between them in different circumstances – they are not rigid or inflexible levels - yet those with more enhanced self-awareness don't regress back to the dormant levels.

We are all a work in progress but at least when we know what we are capable of and the levels we could reach it can inspire us to get there in the time we have left.

It's important to accept that we are all at our own level, and learning what we need to learn. We should show acceptance and compassion to those who have different views, needs and behaviours to our own.

This can be a valuable lesson in itself. One which ultimately enhances our own self-awareness, personal and spiritual development.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR – where you'll find a full page of FREE RESOURCES to help you to understand the effects of your childhood emotions, and how they still impact your life; and how to S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life – with Self-awareness – Education – Learning new skills – Emotional intelligence and balance – Control, clarity and choice – TRANSFORMATION!

You will also find 5 self-help online courses - to improve your relationship with yourself and your past, with your partner/spouse, your children, and in your work/business life - helping women to understand and manager their emotions, boundaries and behaviours - and to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better at home, and in their career or business! - a series of 10 self-help online workshops - of Psycho-Emotional-Education - to help you with a wide range of life difficulties (e.g. anxiety, stress, anger, depression, relationships, self-esteem and confidence, happiness, mindful living, self-awareness and development) - changing the sub-conscious belief system and S.C.R.I.P.T. (c) Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time

Maxine Harley

MIND HEALER & MENTOR - Psychotherapist (MSc), Author, Columnist & Blogger. Please see and, S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life Company Ltd.

I help women to FEEL better - so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! As a MIND HEALER I specialise in helping women to recover from a troubled childhood and toxic parents, to heal and transcend their emotional wounds, re-parent their inner child, and make peace with their past. This enables and empowers them to become better parents, partners, professionals - and all round happier calmer people :-) As a MENTOR I offer different levels of therapeutic self development - including MINDING YOUR BUSINESS, MINDING THE GAP, and MIND MASTERY...please discover more at