3 Things You Need to Become More Self-Aware

    Kara McDuffee
    Kara McDuffee May 27, 2020

    I’ve always been deeply introspection. Since a young age, I would contemplate my life and write journal entry after journey entry. When I wasn’t writing, I was asking myself questions and fantasizing possibilities in my mind. I thought all these things naturally set me up to become more self-aware.

     I was terribly wrong.

     Journaling and introspection certainly can help you become more self-aware. But you need to do more than contemplate questions about your life. You need to be asking the right questions.

    As I got older, I begin to make realizations about myself that had escaped my previous years of rumination. Then I sought even better resources, and my self-awareness skyrocketed once more. Now, I can recognize negative patterns in my life and prevent them sooner. I’ve been able to distinguish between my beliefs and the beliefs of others. Most importantly, I understand what I need to become more self-aware.

     Ultimately, I discovered two overlooked facts about self-awareness. First, self-awareness is incredibly difficult.  Second, self-awareness is incredibly worth it.

     Three Things You Need to Become More Self-Aware: 

    1. Assess your self-awareness to understand where it is lacking 

    The tricky part about self-awareness is that we all think we’re more self-aware than we are. If you took a quick poll, about 90% of people would claim to be self-aware. In reality, only 10-15% of us really are. It’s not our fault. A bunch of old survival instincts and brain biases are getting in our way, rooted in our evolutionary ancestry.

     First, you need to learn and acknowledge where you may be lacking self-awareness in your life. Unfortunately, there isn’t a crystal ball that can give you your exact levels of self-awareness. However, there are resources to help you see where you might be lacking self-awareness. 

    You can take this free self-awareness test to assess your levels of self-awareness. With the results, and a greater understanding of yourself, you can move forward with everything you need - questions, journaling, and introspection - to become more self-aware. 

    It’s challenging to develop your self-awareness if you don’t know how it should look like in your life. Educate yourself with examples of self-awareness, as well as the benefits of being more self-aware.

     Journal Prompts:

    • Where do you think you are self-aware in your life? Might you be wrong?
    • Where do you lack self-awareness in your life the most? 
            2. Be willing to be vulnerable in your self-awareness journey 

    One of my biggest challenges is being more vulnerable. I grew up in a family that hid emotions behind closed doors and highlighted perfection as the route to success. In other words, the perfect discrete enemies of self-awareness. 

    Our society has created myths about vulnerability that severely hurt our self-growth. We falsely view vulnerability as weakness, unnecessary, and exclusive to certain people. We also have a tendency to think being vulnerable only involves deep, dark emotions fully disclosed to other people. 

    When we buy into these myths, we set ourselves up for failure for self-awareness. 

    Self-awareness requires vulnerability. As we dive into the questions we need to become more self-aware, we need to be vulnerable. The true answers will require courage. After all, we might not like what we find, realize that we’ve been wrong, or be forced to face a truth we’ve long-avoided. Even taking things like the self-awareness test forces us to be vulnerable; we must truthfully assess where we lack self-awareness in our lives.

     We tend to think of vulnerability in terms of putting trust in relationships. However, I’d argue that it takes just as much vulnerability to be trusting in ourselves.

     Journal Prompts:

    • Why do you think vulnerability is necessary to become more self-aware?
    • When have you been afraid to ask a question about yourself because you might not like what you find?


             3. Learn to live with uncertainty 

    As much as humans don’t like feeling vulnerable, we do like finding certainty. Our brains seek to know all the information about any given situation. Finite answers provide us much more comfort than open-ended questions. 

    Unfortunately, this deep-rooted desire for certainty holds our self-awareness back in a couple of ways. First, we rush to find answers, and even force them, instead of living in the uncertainty. Have you ever sat down with a journaling prompt and tried to answer it in your first few sentences? Usually, the answer won’t reveal itself right away. It might take a few pages, or a few days, or even a few weeks before you find your answer.

     We need to summon the vulnerability to live in the uncertainty until we find it.

     The other reason our need for certainty prevents self-awareness is that we hold onto answers as permanent. We become more self-aware about something and then think - yes, now I’ve achieved this level of self-awareness for the rest of my life! However, this thinking is far from accurate. We evolve throughout our lives. What might be true one day will be desperately wrong the next.

     To become more self-aware, we need to accept that it is a never-ending process. The examples of self-awareness in our life will always be changing.

     Journal Prompts:

    • When has one of your beliefs or understandings of yourself changed?
    • Where do you desire certainty and control in your life? Why? 

    How can you use these elements to become more self-aware? 

    When I look back on the years I thought I was self-aware, I can see now what I was missing. I only journaled about the things I thought I didn’t know about myself, unaware of how much I didn’t know. Furthermore, I avoided the hard questions and uncertain questions. I rushed to find an answer that I could hold onto because I thought that’s what self-awareness was. 

    Self-awareness doesn’t emerge in your first or second sentence. Sometimes, it won’t even reveal itself with a specific prompt. 

    But, with a more accurate understanding of self-awareness and yourself, you can become more self-aware.

     And then you can become more self-aware again, and again, and again - because it’s a never-ending process.

     In the end, it’s entirely worth it.

     Journal Prompts:

    • Where do you think your ideas about self-awareness are inaccurate?
    • How might these false notions be holding you back?
    • Why do you want to become more self-aware?
    • How different would your life look if you were more self-aware?

     Take this fun, easy self-awareness test to start your self-awareness journey.


    Kara McDuffee

    Author bio: Kara McDuffee is the creator and writer of MyQuestionLife, a blog dedicated to giving you the questions you need to discover yourself and improve your self-awareness. She understands the importance of vulnerability in tackling these questions and creating a life of purpose. Kara teaches high school students English full-time during the day and creates helpful content for people like you in the evenings. Both jobs are driven by the goal to help others find their authentic voice. You can check out her Facebook page, Pinterest page, and blog here.