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Above all types of knowledge and information, awareness about oneself stands superior. It is the building block of self and the journey of self-improvement. Self-awareness is an ability to have a clear understanding of all the aspects of one’s personality including one’s strengths and weaknesses, needs and wants, thoughts and beliefs, and emotions and motivation.
Amna Nawaz works as clinical psychologist at Willing Ways, Lahore. She has done MS in clinical psychology and B.Sc (Hons.) from GC University, Lahore. Heath counseling, addiction counseling, subjective well-being and intellectual disability are her areas of interest as well as her educational expertise. She has acquired her clinical training from one of the prestigious institutes in Lahore including Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Punjab Institute of Mental Health and Mayo Hospital.
Editor: Haroon Christy
Historically speaking, the concept of self-awareness in the field of psychology was officially highlighted in 1972 by two psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund who proposed that individuals can become better evaluators if they focus their attention on themselves. Such kind of evaluation can help in the process of self-control and improvement. Later on, Daniel Goleman elaborated the concept of self-awareness by defining it as knowledge of one’s subjective inner states, intuitions, potentials and preferences. So, to sum it all, it can be concluded that self-awareness is a combination of knowing about oneself and also about monitoring our internal states. Such understanding about oneself has to be more unbiased and less critical. It should not impose “shoulds” or “should nots”, and also should not induce guilt in case of any undesirable or unwanted internal experiences. Self-awareness contains a complete acceptance of one’s subjective experiences as only acceptance opens the door for self-improvement, solution and change.
Studies have indicated that self-awareness is a key component of enhancing one’s emotional intelligence. People with greater level of self-awareness are less reactive, psychologically stronger, more compassionate towards themselves and the people around, and they hold a relatively positive outlook towards life. Moreover, self-awareness is also linked with greater success in one’s career. Since, an increased level of self-awareness also helps understand other people; it also inculcates a better sense of empathy. This is the reason why people with greater self-awareness are able to enjoy healthy interpersonal relationships as they are good in empathizing with others.
Despite of several benefits of self-awareness, it is still not an easy task to develop it. Self-awareness is a learnable skill yet it cannot be learned by simply reading a book on self-awareness. Most of the time, human brain tends to operate on autopilot. This tendency makes an individual work mindlessly and less conscious of our actions, feelings, thoughts and surroundings. It requires a huge amount of practice of focusing our attention on the minute details of personality. However, there are still various learnable skills to improve our self-awareness and enhance conscious living.