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Self Awareness

Listen to the Podcast about Self Awareness

Self Awareness – Who Am I?


We tend to see our identity through our position in society, our friends and family, the needs and desires of our body, and the emotional and intellectual expressions of our mind. For example: We might say ‘I am a student studying economics, I have three sisters and live in London’. We rarely take the time to contemplate the real nature of our existence; to ask the question, "Who am I?" 

Being self-aware is having a good knowledge and understanding of yourself including being aware of your own feelings and character. Practicing self-awareness is about learning to better understand why you feel what you feel and why you behave in a particular way. Having this awareness gives you the opportunity and freedom to change things about yourself, enabling you to create a life that you want. It’s almost impossible to change and become self-accepting if you are unsure as to who you are. Having clarity about who you are and what you want can be empowering, giving you the confidence to make changes. 

Try this challenge 

Think about describing yourself to another person without mentioning anything about the external things that are in your life, your friends, family, studying etc. Concentrate only on yourself, how you feel and behave, perhaps recognising some of your strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Did you manage to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours? 
  • Is self-awareness important? 

Having a clearer understanding of your thought and behaviour patterns helps you to understand other people. This ability to empathise facilitates better personal and professional relationships. 

When we are more self-aware we are better at understanding ourselves. We are then able to identify changes we want to make and recognise our strengths so we can build on them.  

Self-awareness is often a first step to goal setting. This includes admitting when you don't have the answer and owning up to mistakes. 

The Johari Window 

The Johari Window can be looked at from many angles and provides four basic forms of the Self (the Known, Hidden, Blind, and Unknown Self). 

You may find the Johari Window quite useful as a tool to help you discover who you are. 

Known Self 

Things we know about ourselves and others know about us. 

The part that you are able to discuss freely with others.  

Most of the time you agree with this view you have and others have of you. 

Hidden Self 

Things we know about ourselves that others do not know. 

In this part you hide things that are very private about yourself, this maybe to protect yourself, because you feel ashamed or vulnerable, or perhaps because of modesty.  

Blind Self 

Things others know about us that we do not know. 

E.g. You might see yourself as an open-minded person when, in reality, people around you don’t agree. This area also works the other way. You might see yourself as a “dumb” person while others might consider you incredibly bright. 


Unknown Self 

Things neither we nor others know about us. 

This might refer to untapped potential talents and skills that have yet to be explored by you, your friends, colleagues or managers. 


Observation and Value Judgements: Looking at self awareness and acceptance 

Some people say we need judgements to be able to live in this world. “How could I make decisions if I didn’t judge? Isn't that how we make decisions?” 

A distinction between a value judgement and an observation is as follows: 

In an observation we see, hear and feel what is happening around us. We then state what we see. When we’re judging something, we go one step further in the process of observation and add in a subjective evaluation. We label the event as either “good”, or “bad”. It then becomes a value judgement. Placing a value judgement upon the event affects our decision making process because the event now has a label and affects how we respond. 

How does this apply to accepting yourself? 
  • You first make an observation about yourself, ("I am embarrassed in social situations”) then decide if it’s a good or bad thing to be ("It's bad to be embarrassed in social situations"). When we judge something about ourselves as “bad”, it becomes impossible to accept it and be okay with that part of yourself. However, it is possible to accept how you behave in social situations and still know you want to change it and perhaps work towards making improvements. 
  • What if you were to drop your value judgements and simply saw “what is” then identified what you wanted and why? It could totally transform your experience. It might lead to new discoveries about yourself. For example: Being embarrassed in social situations is something that you have observed about yourself, it doesn’t have to have any value judgement placed upon it, and this could be described as “what is”. Then identify how you would like to behave in social situations and why, this is “what you want and why”. Having established this you are more able move forward in a positive way, as you are now aware of how you would like things to be and more accepting as to how they actually are. 
  • Perhaps you would find a well of acceptance for yourself and others that you never knew existed. 
  • Perhaps you would notice the less you judge yourself, the less you'll judge others. And maybe, the experience of acceptance would give you the solid foundation to move forward in creating yourself and your life in a way that is more satisfying. 

Getting Support 

The Wellbeing and Student Support (WSS) are available for students at the University of Warwick: 

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