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Self Awareness

Self-Awareness 

Do You Believe That You Can Achieve?

What is Self-Awareness: 

Being self-aware is a demonstration of one’s “ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values” along with the ability to understand how they impact their own behavior.(1) Additionally, self-awareness encompasses an individual’s ability to accurately assess one’s own strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a ‘growth mindset.’” In addition to the aforementioned definition, renowned psychologist and author Daniel Coleman describes self awareness  in his book, “Emotional Intelligence” as “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions.” 

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social & Emotional Learning  CASEL— which serves as a resource on Social & Emotional Learning, self-awareness is comprised of five key components: 

  • Identifying emotions
  • Accurate self-perception
  • Recognizing strength
  • Possessing strong self-confidence 
  • Possessing self-efficacy 

Identifying Emotions

Identifying one’s emotions can be a strenuous process, especially for children. Oftentimes, when external stimuli (ex. school, family issues, mental health issues, conflict with peers, etc.) are bombarding an individual, he or she may experience an overwhelming abundance of emotions that are difficult to comprehend and distinguish from one another. There are a variety of methods one can employ to identify and understand his/her emotions. 

First and foremost, individuals must know that experiencing various emotions to various degrees for various periods of time is a natural part of the human experience. Kidshealth.org emphasizes the importance of knowing that emotions “give us information about what we’re experiencing and help us know how to react.” Additionally, Kidshealth.org states that it’s important to remember that emotions come and go for various periods of time, that emotions can range anywhere between “mild” and “intense,” and that there are “no good or bad emotions,” only positive or negative emotions that are completely normal. The only thing that can be “good or bad” about an emotion is the manner in which one acts upon that emotion. That will determine that nature of the consequence of feeling and expressing that emotion. According to Kidshealth.org, this component of self-awareness is all about “recognizing, respecting, and accepting your feelings as they happen.”

Identify Emotions

One example of a method one can exercise to identify his/her emotions is  one shared by website, Out of Home Care Toolbox. It states is that individuals can identify their emotions by being attuned to their state of physical being, or “body signals.” For example, clenched fists could indicate anger, while sweaty palms could indicate anxiety. It is likely that two or more emotions will accompany one another in a chaotic situation. This is an example of experiencing “primary and secondary” emotions. For example, an individual may have a conflict with a peer, causing him/her to become angry and lash out aggressively towards that person. Afterwards, that individual might feel ashamed for behaving that way towards his/her peer. In this instance, “anger” is the primary emotion that spawned the secondary emotion, shame. Out of Home Care Toolbox states that one can work towards resolving a conflict by identifying that primary emotion that was catalyzed by the conflict.

One can also identify his/her emotions by engaging in various activities that are both entertaining and emotionally beneficial. For example, the website Lemon Lime Adventures has an abundance of activities for young children that teach them how to be successful in identifying and comprehending their emotions. These activities include everything from printable card games to coloring sheets. Kidshealth.org suggests a variety of similar activities that are more age-appropriate for adolescents. Their list of “Five Ways to Know Your Feelings Better” includes: Naming one’s feelings, tracking a single emotion, learning new words for feelings, keeping a feelings journal, and noticing feelings in art, songs, and movies. 

Accurate Self-Perception

Having accurate self-perception means not continuously fluctuating from believing you’re the world’s most untouchable person, to believing you’re the most hated person in existence. It’s all about assessing one’s strengths and weaknesses and finding a healthy medium. Dr. Robert C. Roberts, professor at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, delves into this much more extensively in his article, “Self-Perception and Humility: The Importance of An Accurate Self-Image.” 

Recognizing Strength

Being self-aware requires one to be both realistic and optimistic. Doing so will boost one’s self-confidence, which will increase one’s ability to be successful in life. Pinpointing one’s strengths can be done by acknowledging one’s experience and intelligence in a variety of fields, which according to the website Achieveit360, includes: Verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, musical, naturalistic, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, etc. Recognizing one’s strengths allows an individual to be confident in himself/herself and in what he/she knows. It also allows an individual to know what areas he/she must improve in.

Possessing Strong Self-Confidence

As previously stated, developing self-confidence comes from knowing where one’s strengths lie, as well as knowing what weakness one must improve upon. Strong self-confidence can be developed by practicing self-praise whenever one achieves success, as well as by meeting one’s shortcomings with a positive attitude and an open-mind. Beating oneself up does not build self-confidence, but rather destroys it. Instead, one should find success in his/her ability to identify weaknesses and transform that into motivation to improve.

Possessing Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own ability to establish and achieve goals. This works with one’s abilities to exercise accurate self-perception, pinpoint strengths, and exercise self-confidence. One cannot achieve his/her goals without being aware of the strengths they require to be met, the weaknesses that will cause obstacles in meeting them, and the self-confidence required to efficiently meet these goals. 

How is Self-Awareness Taught

Self-awareness is taught in a variety of ways, both inside the classroom (as demonstrated by Edutopia.org) and outside the classroom on one’s own time (as demonstrated by Developgoodhabits.com).

Methods Inside the Classroom

  1. Teaching students about the science of Metacognition and how their brains are wired for growth.
  2. Coaching students to practice recognizing what they don’t understand.
  3. Teaching students the art of reflection/self-reflection by integrating opportunities to practice it into coursework.
  4. Having students write frequently in “learning journals.”
  5. Implementing a “wrapper” activity (an activity that concludes a lesson by having students write down three key ideas they took away from the lesson and comparing their ideas to the teacher’s). This develops active-listening and monitoring skills.
  6. Implementing essay exams instead of multiple-choice exams (studies show that “students use lower-level thinking skills to prepare for multiple-choice exams).
  7. Facilitating reflexive thinking (“the metacognitive process of being aware of our biases”). 

Methods Outside the Classroom

  1. Looking at oneself objectively.
  2. Keeping a journal.
  3. Writing down one’s goals, plans and priorities.
  4. Performing daily self-reflection.
  5. Engaging in meditation and other mindfulness habits (Developgoodhabits.com has 71of them!).
  6. Taking personality and psychometric tests (Myer-Briggs, Predictive Index).
  7. Asking trusted friends to describe you.
  8. Asking for feedback at work.

What are the Benefits of Self-Awareness

  • Develops Resilience: The American Academy of Family Physicians states that self-awareness strengthens one’s resilience by allowing one to be aware of internal cues, be insightful on one’s own strengths and weakness, and understand blind spots and lenses.
  • Improves Classroom Performance: Understood.org explains how self-awareness benefits students in the classroom, especially those with learning and attention issues. Students who are self-aware can: 
  • Recognize their strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify what they need to do to complete a task
  • Recognize errors in schoolwork and make edits or changes
  • Understand and talk about his feelings
  • Recognize other people’s needs and feelings
  • See how their behavior affects others
  • Prepares Individuals for the “Real World”: As explained by, Developgoodhabits.com individuals who are self-aware are prepared for a variety of careers in the workforce, including:
  • Leadership roles
  • Social work
  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Nursing

*(1) According to the the Collaborative for Academic, Social & Emotional Learning  CASEL— the industry resource on Social & Emotional Learning.

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