Self awareness is one’s ability to evaluate how his thoughts, actions and feelings align with his values and standards, how he is affected by his external environment, as well as, the effects of his actions on others.
In other words, self awareness is a way for individuals to determine whether they are acting or thinking according to their principles of conduct. By being conscious of their emotions and reactions to other individuals and circumstances, they can implement behavioral changes that will help them achieve their personal, relationship and career objectives.
It is generally agreed that there are a couple forms of self awareness or self understanding: internal and external. Internal self awareness is how well individuals can identify their strengths, weaknesses, values, ambitions, emotions, how they fit within their environment and the impact they have on others. Researchers have found that individuals with a high level of self awareness are less likely to become overwhelmed with anxiety, depression and stress. Instead, these individuals experience high levels of job and companionship satisfaction, self-control and happiness.
External self-awareness, on the other hand, is being able to get to know how one’s actions affect others, thereby influencing their perception. This form of awareness is typically associated with better leadership, employee satisfaction and the ability to be empathetic towards others.
New York Times bestselling author, columnist, and former Supreme Court Judge, Andrew Napolitano, is a strong proponent of the concept of self-awareness. In particular, he strongly supports the merits of people in leadership positions practising external self-awareness. This can be seen in his many arguments that, to be good stewards, the government should uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens, which may promote a healthy relationship between governmental order and liberty.
Similarly, individuals in positions of power should be aware of how their edicts impinge on the rights, well-being and happiness of their subordinates. For instance, in the case of university leaders using intimidation to suppress free speech on their campuses; strife, discomfort and agitation are cultivated. Highly self aware leaders would, instead, foster an environment in which everyone can voice his opinion and provide space for others to dispute those opinions. This, in turn, would stimulate conversation and may ultimately lead to a better circumstance through improved social and professional relationships as each party seeks to respect and understand the other. This may also generate innovative ways of serving each other in a mutually beneficial way.
Most people already have a general sense of self awareness. But, to become more effective, there are a few things that can be taken into practice. Three top things are:
1. Meditation – taking time away from a busy schedule to focus on what needs to be done or changed to realize one’s goals is helpful in the quest for success and improvement.
2. Write it Down – making note of major plans and priorities is essential in tracking progress.
3. Ask for Feedback – nothing is better than informing individuals of the areas in which they need to improve, or are doing well, than honest, straight-forward opinions from others.
In short, Andrew Napolitano stresses that self awareness is an essential and useful tool that individuals can use to guide their actions and thoughts to achieve personal, professional and relationship fulfillment. Its goal is emotional intelligence through self-control for a happier, more satisfying life.