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Resilience Skills : How do you build self-awareness?


“He who looks outside, dreams; he who looks inside, awakes” C.G. Jung

A dictionary’s definition for self-awareness reads, “Conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.” Succinctly put and if you ask them most people will assure you that yes, they are self-aware thank you very much. But if this is the case why do so many people tell you they are dissatisfied and frustrated with aspects of their daily life and would really love to do or be x, y or z?

The answer probably lies in the fact that self-awareness is a well-used term but perhaps not one which is fully understood. To be truly self-aware you need to really understand your thoughts, emotions and behaviours and how they affect both you and those around you. This includes understanding what upsets you, what your strengths and weaknesses are and, importantly, that how others see you can be quite different from what you think they see. Knowing yourself better allows you to consciously decide what you think, feel and how you act and it is a journey which can last a lifetime.

So how can you build your self-awareness?

Firstly, you can become more aware of your strengths and the areas you would like to develop. This could be done by keeping a diary of different situations; noting what your feelings were, how you reacted and any physical symptoms you noticed. You could also write down a list of your roles, both within your personal and working life, and the feelings you have for each one. Another exercise is to think about different scenarios you have experienced or are likely to experience and write down your predicted feelings as you enter into each one.

Taking on a new experience also helps you to become more self-aware. This could be for example, a new hobby, new job, different role within your current company or through travelling to a new place. Often when we are in different environments we discover new things, it could be a strength we were unaware of or something about ourselves which we didn’t know.

Be aware of the assumptions you have about yourself, whether they are positive or negative, as our beliefs play a fundamental role in our behaviour. If we are asked to do a task and our initial reaction is “I don’t think I’m good enough to do that”, we may still complete the task but with more hesitancy and trepidation than if we had started out with a more positive assumption such as, “If I try hard, I will be able to do that”.

Building our self-awareness not only helps us to become aware of our emotions and improve our experience of life but, importantly in today’s workplace, it helps us to respond to change.


This is one of a series of articles on aspects of resilience. You can access them all from this post Resilience Skills: An A-Z of definitions of the terms used.

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