Need for self-awareness

Anum Zulfiqar Zafar

In order to understand the others in a better way one should have a good understanding of himself/herself. We, as human beings should be able to have this ability to recognize ourselves and consider ourselves as separate and unique individuals. This concept is very rare as most of the people in the process of understanding others forget their own value and lose their importance while making relations and social networking with family members and other people.

It is generally believed that individuals who stand on higher level of self-awareness tend to have higher level of EQ. Through this process we become able to embrace the changes that we have to make in ourselves based on our strengths and work towards our weaknesses in order to recognize the areas in which we need improvement.

The purpose of self-awareness carries its own meaning, since a person with a high level of it tends to have the capacity to better evaluate his/her standards, objectively understand his/her values, manage himself/herself better and form an accurate perception how others feel about him/her. Self-awareness leads to higher levels of job satisfaction, aims in becoming a better leader, improve relationships with colleagues and to deal with our emotions effectively. It has a positive correlation with a person’s overall level of happiness.

Self-awareness is a concept that can be practiced and cultivated, also others can benefit through our better understanding about ourselves as well as those of them. It is not a fixed trait. By being thoroughly self-aware a person can set a definite path for his/her goal accomplishment. People higher in this factor tend to accept their mistakes and always prepare themselves for a new learning experience.

Such people do not consider themselves as perfect but learn from their blunders and accept changes in their lives as challenges. They are conscious of what they are good at and what they need to get improved. They never ignore their limitations and always show assertiveness. Such individuals are called proactive individuals where they take responsibility for their own behaviors and actions.

Unfortunately in our society we are pressurised by this dilemma that we tend to know everything otherwise our abilities will be questioned and people will think that we are left behind. Due to the fear of being judged we tend to conceal our weaknesses which others get to know lately. However, because of this, later on in our life we tend to suffer by the lack of integrity and self-awareness. Healthy approach is to recognize where we lack and to gain our knowledge in that particular aspect rather than hiding ourselves in the shells, this will also show honesty towards ourselves.

Self-awareness is a very important concept to be looked upon especially when the matter of counseling is concerned. It plays a very crucial role in the psychotherapeutic processes. It helps towards developing a healthy therapeutic relation and contributes in rapport building. It helps clients to have a true insight about themselves and adds to their overall well-being. Some techniques in therapy are also very helpful towards creating self-awareness in clients such as Socratic questioning through which therapist help clients to give an insight of their abilities and shortcomings.

One very prominent technique that can cater more towards self-awareness that I also practice with my clients is the ‘Johari Window’. This is a very useful technique looked upon from different angles to discover the self. Four self-concepts are worked upon in this technique; Known Self is the part where others and you know about you. Most of the people agree with this part of you and you also agree too. Hidden Self is the part with which you know about yourself but others do not. Generally you keep very private information in this part and feel vulnerable to expose your weaknesses.

Blind Self is the part with which others see in you and you do not see. You may at times see yourself as an open-minded person, whereas others do not agree with you. In this part you can notice that others find a mismatch between what you say and how you react. Similarly, Unknown Self is the part in which you and others are unknown to yourself. There could be your hidden talents or fears yet to be explored by you and your loved ones.

This technique proves very helpful with depressive, phobic and anxious clients. It is very important outside the therapy process also to be a sound reflector of our feelings and emotions. At times it becomes difficult to understand ourselves fully, you can make a list of all your abilities and achievements in your life and the areas which still need to be improved. Accepting criticism is a positive way which also opens a window for a person’s self-awareness as he/she gets an idea that there is a particular flaw which has to be improved.

Therefore, one should never shy or hesitate in learning from others, because, this might also improve his/her understanding about himself/herself. Sometimes during the learning process another person could be a good teacher and when that new information is incorporated in the self-awareness process it gives a light to the overall understanding about yourself. Also such people have less anger management issues since they are ready to improve themselves and move on with a better life.

In short, I would like to throw light on some of the helpful tips that can be practiced in our daily life for self-awareness such as spare time for yourself, practice meditation preferably mindfulness where you should focus on here and now, practice self-talking, keep a diary to make note your thoughts and lastly, be an effective listener for yourself as well as for the others. Being self-aware is a starting point of self-improvement to live your life actively rather passively. This will later on lead to better relations, a better life and most importantly finding peace towards yourself.                                     

The writer is a clinical psychologist based in Karachi. She has done M.Phil in Clinical Psychology from the Bahria University, Karachi Campus. She has a sound experience in counseling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy and has served at various mental healthcare institutes. Presently, she is working at The Institute of Mind Sciences as a psychotherapist. She can be contacted at:

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