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What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the recognition of and appreciation of all aspects of our identity. This includes our behaviors, triggers, traumas, and emotions. This is different from consciousness, which refers to the recognition of our environment. Having high self-awareness, or being self-aware, means understanding the way your emotions may dictate how you respond to different stimuli or knowing why certain topics make you feel insecure. For example, someone walking down a new street may be conscious of the new environment and the people who reside in it. They may be carefully observing street signs, people, animals, and other things which catch their attention and provide information. Being self-aware is recognizing and understanding what being in the new environment brings up for you. Do you feel curious or scared? Is your body tense or relaxed? Consciousness refers to understanding where you are, but self-awareness refers to understanding who you are and how you are.

What happens if I have low self-awareness?

When people have a low self-awareness/are not self-aware, they tend to feel out of touch with themselves or that they cannot control important aspects of their lives, like their emotions and behaviors. When we are self-aware, we are able to understand our emotions, we are able to manage them better. For example, someone who is angry at their partner may actually be hurt because they feel betrayed. When we are self-aware, we can communicate these feelings to our partners, process our emotions, and experience them in an appropriate way. When we aren’t self-aware, we tend to feel angry, shameful, self-critical, and out of touch with ourselves.

How can I increase my self-awareness?

Becoming more self-aware requires a process of self-exploration. It’s important to get to know yourself – both the good and the bad. This means becoming familiar with your strengths, skills and talents, prides, as well as getting to know your insecurities, traumas, and triggers. Your therapist can provide guided exercises to help you in developing a sense of self-awareness. Somethings you can do to increase your self-awareness on your own are to: 1) become familiar with what might trigger your negative emotions; 2) become familiar with what makes you happy or puts you in a good mood; 3) take breaks when you’re upset or emotionally flooded before you react; 4) take time to reflection how you react to different events and stimuli.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.