What Is Self-Awareness (and How to Cultivate It)

Amber Murphy

Self-awareness is a journey that involves different aspects of life, including feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. It centers around introspection. This psychological state will force you to focus on yourself as an individual with a personality. That’s why you’ll find that some people are confident, always humble, and full of wisdom while remaining true to their beliefs. In this article, we’ll share how to cultivate self-awareness so you can practice mindful living.

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What Is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is the experience of discovering consciousness and your identity. As you begin to practice meditation, you might learn that you are not your thoughts. So, what exactly are you?

Your body and thoughts tie down your ego to affirm that what you are is based on your mind and body. Yet, there’s an essence to you that you can’t search anywhere within your body that exists. It’s you in the present moment, where you’re conscious and living but not living in a past or future state. The past and future tie you to this physical realm. And somehow, the real you is most active in the present moment.

How to Cultivate Self-Awareness

1. Keep checking within yourself

Self-awareness is a continuous process that involves constant changes. Our feelings and perspectives in life are constantly changing due to growth. Those with a growth mindset may be more likely to experience change more frequently. So, make it your goal to often pause and think about where you are and build toward where you’re going.

In all these cases, make sure that you write down how you feel. For example, “what is making me feel angry?”, “I am happy because…” Don’t focus on asking yourself why questions, such as “why am I feeling hungry?” but try and find the root cause of the problem.

“Why” isn’t a practical question for self-awareness since it shows that you focus on the results and not the underlying causes of troubles that affect your feelings and thoughts. Instead, by answering “what,” you can make rational decisions to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. You can then come to the correct conclusion about yourself.

You might notice that the root of your suffering lies in your thoughts. And to separate yourself from your thoughts, you’ll need to live in this present moment and stop overthinking your frustrations or fears.

2. Practice Mindfulness for Self-Awareness

Mindfulness and self-awareness go hand-in-hand. For you to be aware of yourself, you need to be mindful of who you are. You must be ready to sit down with yourself and observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. You are not your thoughts. Your thoughts will surface in your mind entirely on their own with no control from your side. You can be aware of your thinking without acting on it

The primary purpose of mindfulness is to be present in your life at all times. Living in the present is hard to do. Most people spend their lives reliving the past and fearing the future. The average person rarely lives in the present moment. Even if you feel frustrated or down at different points in life, you’re still familiar with who you are at your core and able to manage your negative thoughts without living in a time-based period. You need to focus on this very moment right now to find yourself.

You’ll go through many things in life, but practicing mindfulness provides a perfect way to cope with different emotions and acknowledge happiness, sadness, anger, and frustration. Overall, you will be more acquainted with yourself, something that you need to become more self-aware.

You can try a guided meditation for self to help you discover this present moment and experience self-awareness. Using Declutter The Mind’s meditation app, you’ll find dozens of guided meditations ranging between 5-60 minutes that will help you master present living to help you discover your self-awareness.

3. Keep a Journal

If you want to be a mindful person, you need to keep a journal to process and record your feelings. Your goal should be to journal at least once a day and consider your feelings and activities throughout the day.

Ask yourself what made you behave or act in a certain way and if it was good. Think about the triggers in your life, how they affect you, and how you can handle or avoid them. Reflecting is good for your mind and body as you’ll be taking time to record your daily experiences and gain a closer look at them.

You can invest in a mindfulness journal to help you practice mindful living. As you observe journal notes about the same thoughts, frustrations, and emotions surfacing, you might begin to realize how big your ego is. In this context, the ego doesn’t refer to being big-headed but more so the ego-self. The ego-self is a made-up person who you think you should be instead of who you actually are. If you strip away your body and mind, what’s the real you like? That should be what you aim to find when answering journaling prompts each day.

journal for self-awareness

4. Complete A Self-Awareness Test

How much do you understand yourself? To be sure and get the precise values, you can always do an individual self-awareness test. There are many tests that you can do online for free.

These self-awareness tests come in the form of multiple choices. In the end, you will get a score and interpretation of how well you know and understand yourself. Besides that, the test results will show you areas that you need to improve on.

To supplement your understanding of yourself, you can also do a basic personality test. You might find different results that may contradict how you typically view yourself. This way, you stand the best chance of getting a comprehensive view of yourself.

Take note of your strengths and try to find ways on how you can improve them. Besides that, take a look at your weaknesses and try to correct them.

As you do these types of assessments, remember you’re not someone else’s definition. For instance, if you do a personality test, don’t believe everything you read, even if it sounds like something you want to be. You’re more complex than one of the 16 personality types you’re assigned. Also, as you learn, grow, and change, you’ll notice that your personality changes over time. Self-awareness will allow you to see the growth you experience. Don’t get caught up in a title. You’re not that basic.

5. Be More Of A Listener

The most common mistake that a lot of us make is that we always want to be heard. We want to win arguments, state why we think our thoughts or statements are correct. But we should never forget that we don’t know everything.

How can we better understand ourselves if we don’t take the time to listen and accept feedback from others? The journey of self-awareness requires introspection. You can only achieve this if you are more of a listener than a talker.

Make it a habit to listen to those who are always around you. Evaluate statements about what close friends and family say about you without judgment. Of course, there are those people who will constantly try to talk down to you or shame you for no reason. During such instances, stand your ground and defend yourself. And try to understand that most people are projecting their fears and insecurities. Comments directed to you are usually not typically about you.

But for the sake of learning, listen to those individuals with whom you have wholesome relationships. Doing this will give you a true sense of how other people perceive your character, giving you a better understanding of who you are. Don’t forget that different individuals have various perspectives about you, so be ready to take all that in.

listen for self-awareness

6. Spend Time with Yourself

You’re responsible for your wellbeing and success, and that’s why you should invest in yourself. It’s easy to reflect on other things in life while always letting yourself loose without even thinking that introspection and self-awareness start when you first spend time with yourself.

Yes, your kids always need you, the house needs to be clean, you need to update your career profile, etc., but when do you spend time with you? Why are you investing so much time in things around you while forgetting to invest time in yourself?

Just give yourself space from other people and things and focus on self-reflection. Sometimes it’s good to avoid distractions because your mind and body need you to be healthy enough to focus on the daily distractions that life brings forth.

There are many solo activities that you can do, for instance, walking in the morning, taking a corner seat at a restaurant and watch the world go by, reading your favorite book, and sometimes even just sleeping for a few extra hours. Make it a habit to spend time with yourself at least once a week.

7. Take a 3rd-Person Point of View of Self-Awareness

After listening to what others have to say about you, have you ever put yourself in their position? For instance, when someone has made mean remarks about you, you likely feel hurt. But have you tried taking the perspective of a 3rd-party?

The benefits of self-awareness don’t only serve you but also other people in your life. It’s all about knowing your emotions and behaviors and how you can effectively manage them in different scenarios.

You’re going to get triggered by a lot of things in life. If you’re not self-aware, you might end up losing meaningful relationships, including jobs. That’s why you should always try to take a different person’s perspective and analyze situations differently.

If you do so, you’ll find yourself getting angry less often and walking away from situations that are likely to interfere with your inner peace. Besides that, you will avoid being over-critical of yourself, which tends to be the most destructive trait people have. Our negative thoughts can prevent us from having a sense of self-awareness.

third point of view for self awareness

8. Treat Yourself

You belong to yourself first. You’ll get to know yourself better than anyone else in your life. You’ll go through periods of hard times and good times, which will help you become more acquainted with who you are. Everything you go through in life will help you develop self-awareness if you’re open to digging deep to learn more.

Life can be pretty challenging when troubles boil up and shift the shape of who you essentially are. Sometimes you might ask yourself, “do I truly deserve everything I have and experience?” or “what did I do to experience all of this”?

Regardless of the phase in your life you’re in; your goal should always be to come back to yourself. That’s why you should always plan how you can treat yourself well for your mental and physical wellbeing.

Take yourself out and eat those meals that you’ve always craved. Watch how your spirit melts when you’re in a different comfort zone and get to understand your feelings. Don’t subject yourself to a morning routine without a dash of surprises.

Life is too short, and that’s why now and then, you should plan to visit new places or people. And if you are too tired to do anything, well, you can sit or sleep the whole day and do nothing at all. Taking time to try some self care ideas can help rejuvenate you. Self-awareness typically comes in periods of calm.


The journey towards self-awareness will last a lifetime. It would be best if you kept learning as you navigate the ever-changing journey of evolution towards recognizing yourself. Understand your physical wellbeing as well as mental health to know yourself at your best and worst. Besides that, educate yourself about different psychological practices that can help you grow into a confident and kind individual. Make it your goal to introspect and stay in touch with your internal wellbeing constantly.

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