Knowing yourself is easy, right? Perhaps for some more than for others. My personal experience is that true self-awareness can be grueling.
It takes a candid and sincere mind to look at the self without rose-tinted goggles. We don’t always want to see ourselves as we really are.
When it comes to gaining knowledge of yourself, you might think you’ve got it, only to watch it slip between your fingers again. It can be elusive, slippery, and hard to pin down.
You might say that self-awareness exists on a spectrum. From loud, oblivious, and unaware to slow, pensive, and poised. We all know people from both ends of the scale.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum — self-awareness can fluctuate, too. But some people are just gifted with the grace of perpetual self-awareness. Are you one of those people?
How can you know if you’re self-aware or not? In this article, I’ll discuss eight signs you’re self-aware by nature.
1) Strong empathy: The self and the other
Ah, empathy — that quasi-magical ability to feel another person’s feelings. Highly self-aware people often tend to excel in empathy.
Did you know some researchers even believe that self-awareness actually produces empathy? It’s as if knowing oneself opens the doors to understanding others.
When you’re in tune with yourself, you resonate with the emotions of those around you. The line between self and other becomes less pronounced and you intuitively feel how one affects the other.
2) Good impulsive control: Walk, don’t run
Picture this: you’re in a bout of rage and about to send a strongly-worded email, but suddenly, you hit the brakes. Through the storm clouds of your temper, a glimmer of insight shone through saying You’ll regret this later. That’s self-awareness in action.
Scientific studies reveal that self-awareness through mindfulness meditation leads to better impulse control. When you’re mindful and self-aware, you won’t jump the gun when temper takes you.
Instead, you pause, reflect, and then respond — like savoring a fine wine rather than downing a shot.
3) Creative edge: A world of abstract wonder
According to research cited by the Harvard Business Review, self-aware people tend to be more creative. I can understand if this feels counterintuitive. When we think of creatives, we often imagine aloof savants getting lost in a world of abstract wonder.
But if you think about it, creativity requires introspection — you need to look inside before you can express what’s in there.
If you’re one of those people who love to get lost in your own personal creative space, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re self-aware.
4) Job satisfaction: Happy at work
Who doesn’t want to be happy at work? Of course, we all do. But to be happy at work, you first need to know what makes you happy. And guess what that requires? — Self-awareness.
If you’re in a job that meets your needs, it’s probably because you had the good sense to intentionally place yourself there. That required self-awareness and dedication, so well done!
I’m not pulling this out of the air either. Studies have clearly demonstrated the relationship between self-awareness as an indicator of job satisfaction.
5) Values and actions: Minimal cognitive dissonance
Imagine a life where your values and actions sing in perfect harmony.
That’s the gift of self-awareness. It’s easy to talk about what’s right and wrong. It’s quite a different thing to actually apply it to your own life.
Often, people don’t see themselves transgressing against their own values — that’s cognitive dissonance.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes about this:
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” ― Carl Gustav Jung.
6) Strong relationships: Awareness is peace
Self-aware people are springs of peace. They navigate life’s storms with grace, uncovering resolutions where others find only turbulence. This goes hand-in-hand with the empathy element I mentioned earlier. Self-aware people are high in empathy — and less self-seeking.
When you can understand other people’s point of view, strong and peaceful relationships blossom.
7) Openness to feedback: “I know I’m not perfect”
Sorry in advance for the cliché; nobody’s perfect. But that doesn’t mean people don’t think they’re perfect — plenty of people do. It only takes a few moments of paying ultra-close attention to your own mind to realize how unruly and chaotic thoughts can be.
Seriously — I dare you to just sit in silence with your eyes closed for 15 minutes.
If you tell me your thoughts are perfectly ordered and controllable — sorry again, but I won’t believe you.
Truly self-aware people are humbled by the natural chaos of the human brain. Having peered deep into the pit of their own consciousness, they’ll never claim to be perfect. This is what makes them open to feedback — they’re not in defense mode.
8) Emotional mastery: Wind blows, tree stands firm
Self-awareness is like a sturdy tree standing, unwavering in the wind. It’s not about avoiding storms, it’s about mastering the art of weathering them. Self-awareness is a major element of emotional intelligence.
For more context, here are the main components of emotional intelligence:
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
If you’re one of those people who handle stress well and stay calm in the midst of crisis and panic, chances are you’re highly self-aware.
Embracing the self in full awareness
It’s true that some people are naturally more self-aware than others. If, after reading this list of indicators, you resonate with most of them — well done! You’re an aware bear.
But don’t be discouraged if not — self-awareness is something you can master with practice!
Meditation, journaling, and going on mindful walks can work wonders for getting deeper insight into the self — which is often elusive and hard to capture.