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7 Examples of Self-Awareness (and Why It’s so Important)

by Hugo

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Key points

  • Self-awareness helps manage reactions to uncontrollable factors.
  • Recognizing and addressing bad habits enhances emotional well-being.
  • Understanding emotional triggers allows better control over reactions.

What are some examples of self-awareness? And how can you apply self-awareness in your everyday life? These are questions that a lot of people want the answers to. Yet, it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to find emotional stability these days.

Our world is filled with external factors that we cannot control. This makes it much more important to at least control ourselves. Even though a lot of our happiness is determined by external factors, we can still control how we deal with these external factors.

That’s where self-awareness enters the picture. You can improve your life tremendously by applying self-awareness techniques in your everyday life. This article will cover real examples of self-awareness, with tips that you can use right away.

What is self-awareness in simple words?

The meaning of self-awareness is “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources, and intuitions”.

Self-awareness is all about knowing the one thing in life we have control over:

  • Our perception of our own world.

If we know exactly what our internal preferences are, then it’s easier to deal with unexpected situations. More importantly, if we know how our unconsciousness reacts to certain events, we can try to improve the way we react to these things.

By being more self-aware, we can control our state of mind in some situations. By feeling more in control of our perception of the world, we are more likely to experience happiness.

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Why is self-awareness so important?

The biggest reason why self-awareness is so important is that it allows us to better control our own mindset, and turn it into something positive despite negative external factors.

Here’s an example:

Someone who is not self-aware encounters obstacles, sometimes the same ones repeatedly, and doesn’t understand why. Someone who is self-aware examines themselves honestly to get to the root of their problems.

Despite encountering the same problems, someone who’s self-aware is better equipped to deal with these obstacles.

Maybe people don’t like to talk to you. A person that isn’t self-aware would just get frustrated, or maybe not even notice that people are annoyed by them. A self-aware person examines the facts, and maybe admits (s)he rambles too much, doesn’t listen enough, isn’t engaging, or isn’t being present. They are better able to accept the situation, in order to then be more aware of what to improve.

In other words, the difference between someone who’s self-aware and someone who’s not is that one has the ability to diagnose the underlying issue.

What are some examples of self-awareness?

There are a number of self-awareness examples that showcase why it’s so important. We’ll cover some of these examples in-depth here:

  1. Being able to focus on something positive when in a negative situation.
  2. Being able to recognize a bad habit and the effect it can have on you.
  3. Learn about your emotional triggers, so you can better deal with negative emotions like anger or hate.

There are more examples of self-awareness in this article, but the 3 mentioned here will be covered in the most detail.

1. Being able to focus on something positive when in a negative situation

This might sound like a silly example, but imagine being stuck in traffic after a long day at work.

If you don’t practice self-awareness, you might feel bummed about being stuck in traffic. And that would be that. Your day would be negatively influenced by this traffic, and as a result, you become angry and agitated.

Now think about the same situation, but then with an added sense of self-awareness.

Sure, you still don’t like being stuck in traffic. Being self-aware will not magically create an eternal smile on your face. But it allows you to look further than just the direct effect of being stuck in traffic.

When you are fully aware that being stuck in traffic is not something you enjoy, then you have the opportunity to change the way you react to it. You can actually decide that being stuck in traffic will not bother you. You can decide to focus on the positive things that are still happening in your life.

self awareness example red light
Having the ability to change your own perception of the outside world can make a significant difference

2. Recognizing a bad habit and the effect it can have on you

Some people can spend entire days binge-watching a series. I’m guilty of this behavior as well, as I’ve binged The Office many times already.

Binge-watching can be a lot of fun and a great way to pass the time on a rainy Sunday. However, binge-watching series can be bad for you if it’s because you want to escape from your problems.

Some people use binge-watching as an escape from reality. You might be escaping your homework, your deadlines at work, or even your relationship. This type of binge-watching is not healthy and has few long-term benefits.

Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize these scenarios. Are you binge-watching just because you want to enjoy a good series, or are you binge-watching because you want to escape your real-life responsibilities?

To a person that’s not fully self-aware, these two situations might look exactly the same.

But a person that is fully self-aware will recognize the bad scenario. If you are self-aware, then it’s much easier to make the right decision. And that is to first take care of your real-life responsibilities before pressing play on that first episode.

Once you know that you’ve accomplished all your goals, you will enjoy binge-watching so much more. Because now it’s only pure entertainment, instead of a form of procrastination. The truth is, we need to balance short-term and long-term happiness and goals like this.

Finding that balance is difficult, but self-awareness is one of the key aspects to becoming better at this.

3. Learn about your emotional triggers, so you can better deal with negative emotions like anger or hate

I am an introvert, and I sometimes bottle up my emotions when I’m disappointed by others. I then keep those emotions deep inside until I can no longer hold them inside.

This situation has occurred before in my life, and it wasn’t pretty. At the time, I wasn’t fully aware of what was happening in my mind. I could have tackled the situation very differently. I could have decided to focus on happiness, but instead, I let my mind slip and choose something worse.

It might seem really simple: you feel like someone hurts you and you feel bummed. You then hold on to that hurt feeling and turn it into something nasty: anger and hatred.

Someone that’s not aware of this anger and hatred might lash out and explode. This would only amplify the negativity, as emotions like these tend to increase in a heated situation.

Knowing about these emotions – and how the anger and hatred towards someone might grow – will help you control them so much more.

If you are completely self-aware, you will be able to stop and bring it back to yourself first. When you start to rationally question your own emotions, you are much better prepared to get rid of the negativity inside:

  • Are you really angry at the other person?
  • Are you reacting to your own insecurities and fears?
  • Why do you actually need to say hurtful things? What’s in it for you?

Self-awareness helps you to ask these questions in difficult times. This can be very challenging, but it can help improve the quality of your life by simply being more aware of your emotions.

What are the benefits of self-awareness?

If it wasn’t clear yet, there are a number of great benefits that come with self-awareness.

1. Better deal with external factors that cannot be controlled

This is the most important benefit of self-awareness.

We can’t control 100% of our lives, but we can often control how we react to the stuff we can’t control.

In order to control how we react to external circumstances, we need to know how our internal states, preference, resources, and intuitions work.

In other words, we need to understand ourselves better. How do external circumstances affect our state of mind? This allows us to react differently to external factors.

We can decide whether or not something makes us sad, angry, or agitated.

This might not always be easy, but it’s the biggest benefit of self-awareness.

2. Anticipate how certain events will influence your state of mind

A higher level of self-awareness enables us to better predict how certain future situations will influence our state of mind.

That way, we can steer our lives in the best direction possible.

Being aware of how certain external factors have a negative impact on our lives allows us to avoid these situations in the future. Knowing this enables us to rationally decide whether or not binge-watching a TV show is good for our long-term happiness.

3. Better understanding the emotions of the people around you

Self-awareness allows us to better understand the emotions of the people around us. If we are not even aware of our own state of mind, how can we possibly try to grasp how people around us might react to certain events?

With self-awareness comes better knowledge about how certain types of people might react to certain events.

For example, think about a close friend or a sibling of yours. If you know how you would react to an external factor, then it’s much easier to understand what goes on in the mind of this other person.

This way, you can help both yourself and your friend or sibling by stepping away from your irrational emotions.

4. Have a positive influence on the state of mind of people around you

This next benefit closely relates to the previous benefit of being self-aware but is arguably the most important of them all.

Being fully self-aware allows us to actively change the mindset of the people around us. You see, humans tend to move in groups. We tend to copy the behavior of others, and as some of you might know: emotions can be contagious!

If your partner or close friend is sad or angry then there is a possibility that you will feel that emotion as well. The same works for happiness.

Your happiness can actually radiate to other people. Your smile has the power to bring a smile to someone else’s face!

And that is arguably the biggest benefit of self-awareness. If we actively decide to face a bad situation with happiness instead of anger, then that happiness can positively influence the people around us!

self awareness example red light sharing
How self-awareness can positively influence the state of mind of others

How can you apply self-awareness in your everyday life?

There are multiple methods to become more self-aware. What method is right for you depends on who you are. If you are truly serious about becoming more self-aware, then these methods might help you get there.

They have certainly helped me!

1. Start a (self-awareness) journal

If you haven’t considered journaling up until now, let me explain why journaling can be the quickest way to create self-awareness.

Journaling makes you explore what goes on in your mind as you live your everyday life. By journaling, you will get to know yourself in a deeper way than ever before. It will force you to think about the things you do unconsciously.

You’re able to find answers to some big questions:

  • Why do you do those things?
  • For what reasons?
  • And more importantly, how do these things affect you?

You can journal just about everything. If you want to journal about your career goals? Go ahead! Want to journal about your life partner? Sure! It doesn’t matter what the subject of your journal is.

Just writing about the things that are going on in your life will make you feel more connected to the things you do unconsciously. And that’s where you can grow your self-awareness.

What I can highly recommend to everybody is to journal about the things that influence your happiness. Happiness is arguably the single most important thing in life, so why not journal about it?

2. Actively look for and analyze opinions that are not necessarily yours

Another way to become more self-aware is to realize how much power interpretation has on our conception of reality. Try to read multiple perspectives on news items, subjects of contention in the media and among your friends, and really try and set aside your personal feelings in order to understand what might cause a person to see each of these perspectives as true.

When you realize that every person’s perceptions are colored by their prior experiences and see how personal narratives can cause the same situation to be read differently by different people, you’ll likely start to apply that same multiple-lens approach to your judgments about yourself, too.

Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.

Richard Branson

When you soak up as much information as possible – even if that information doesn’t align with your opinions – your self-awareness can grow.

3. Take your time to ask “Why?”

In today’s busy world, it often feels like we are constantly traveling at the speed of light. We don’t have time to stop and just sit for a while.

What we should all do every now and then is take our time, and ask ourselves the simple question of “why?”.

  • Why do we do the things we do?
  • Why do I enjoy my life at the moment?
  • Why do I want to be alone?

Even if you don’t have the answers to those questions, it is important to at least think about these questions every once in a while.

Why? Because by thinking about these questions, we become more familiar with the things that run our daily lives. And by doing so, we get a better feeling of how we react to those things. Both consciously and unconsciously.

Asking a simple question like “why” will result in an increased level of self-awareness, because it forces you to think about the reasons you do things.

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Wrapping up

And with that said, I want to conclude this post with self-awareness examples and why it’s so important. There is a lot to learn about self-awareness, and we’ve just scraped the surface of this intriguing subject. I hope this article has shown you how to apply self-awareness in your everyday life, with some actionable examples to get you started!

As always, if you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer you!

Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

9 thoughts on “7 Examples of Self-Awareness (and Why It’s so Important)”

  1. Cool stuff out there, whoa It’s an eye-opener to my emotions and what triggers them. Thanks, Hugo Huijer, for this. πŸ’«

  2. I want to heal completely about my trauma and as I read your self awareness I feel comfortable please need to know about myself to live happy

  3. My dad name is happy, and when I tell people I’m junior happy they really get a kick out of it because they think I’m a hilarious joker.

  4. Hello, Hugo.

    I’ve had a very troubling past, via bullies mentally and physically, since then I’ve taken the physical factor away by not only graduating but learning to protect my self. It’s taken alot for me to see that I can’t change what has happened in my past, but that I can only use it as fuel to do better in life, my new profound issue is staying self aware of my life choice and staying focused on what needs to happen vs impulse life choices, to fill the void of my past of not feeling wanted or appreciated for the knowledge I do have. Any suggestions on getting started on the right path?

    • Hi,

      Thanks for sharing this with me, I can understand that this is really challenging. Have you tried daily journaling, to just write down what you’re feeling and how you’re experiencing things? Putting things on paper can have a really positive effect on your mental health.

      Also, have you tried talking to someone about this in person, whether that’s family, friends or a therapist? If not, then this would probably be my first suggestion. πŸ™‚

      All the best and if you ever want to talk more, let me know at

  5. Hey I ran across you page via a random google search. perhaps the powers that be knew my dad came to the US on a ship from the Netherlands when he was 2, I don’t know but it is a connection. I am trying to make it day to day in a very unhappy environment I created. In 2002 I made a very very bad choice and in 2005 made a decision that has me living in a state 1300 miles from home where I have no family and no close friends. I go through every day miserable and am far from being happy. I know I am not ‘living’ my life I am merely go from one day to the next with nothing to look forward to. I don’t journal or anything like that for fear of someone finding and looking at it and I will feel embarrassed. Looking back and realizing I am nearing retirement age and reflecting on the fact I have lost 16 years or being with my kids (I have 3 grandchildren I have never met), my life is a mess. Well anyway – I think stumbling upon your site is a start for me.

    • Hi Jae,

      I just saw your comment come up as I was working on the site and wanted to reply straight away. What I want to say is maybe corny or cliche, but try to not let your past define your future. It sounds like you have a lot of potentially good things happening (being with kids + grandkids, nearing retirement).

      You made the decision to move away from your family in 2005 and from what I’m reading that’s the main reason you’re feeling unhappy at the moment. But the good thing about that is that this distance is something you can overcome. It may sound drastic, but don’t you think moving would be the most straightforward solution to your problem? Move back to your family and spend more time with them? It’s never too late.

      It sounds like you have an idea of how you can tackle your issues. Being aware of it is half the battle, now you can start working towards a better future.

      I wish you all the best, and if there’s anything I can do for you let me know πŸ™‚


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