We have all been in that moment where we are maybe not in the best mood and snap at someone else undeserving of our anger or hostility. However there is a specialized SEL skill that each and everyone of us can work on to make sure that we can recognize our emotions and better control our actions, can you guess what it is? If you guessed Self-Awareness, then you would be correct!!

Self-awareness is noted by CASEL as one of the pillar skills for social and emotional learning. Berkely describes self-awareness as the ability to tune into one’s internal thoughts, feelings, values, and attitudes and recognizing how these impact our behavior across situations. Being self-aware is an utterly important skill for people of all ages because it allows us to always put our best foot forward. 

According to VeryWell Mind there are two distinct types of self-awareness: public and private. Public self-awareness occurs when one is more aware of what people think about their actions. An example of public self-awareness is when someone is aware that people will enjoy their dance or theater performance, while others might be critical of the performance. Whereas private self-awareness occurs when one is more aware of how their internal feelings impact their body and/or internal thoughts. An example of private self-awareness is when one is aware that their heart rate increases or their mind goes blank when they are feeling angry. 

It was noted in this article by Understood that those with strong self-awareness are more likely to be able to recognize one’s own strengths and challenges, understand and express their emotions, recognize and understand how their behaviors might impact others, and the ability to learn and grow from their own mistakes.

We are all born with the skills and ability to be self-aware, but it requires practice. Positive Psychology and PsychCentral note these simple ways to practice and increase your own self-awareness:

  • Create time for yourself
    • Take time to check in with yourself
    • Set a time limit for your social media use
    • Allow yourself some hobby time
  • Practice mindfulness
    • Practice meditation or breathing exercises to better understand your body and your emotions
    • Practice grounding exercises to better connect with yourself
  • Journaling
    • Utilize journaling to better understand your thoughts and emotions
    • Utilize this time to self-reflect
  • Practice active listening
    • Focus fully on the speaker to better understand how your actions might be impacting others and to stay in the moment
    • Observe tone of voice and body language
  • Look for feedback
    • Ask others for their feedback and opinions on your work
    • Have a growth mindset and be open to learning
  • Self-reflect 
    • Identify skills that you excel at and ones you need to improve on
    • Notice your “knee-jerk” emotional reactions and judgements
    • Recognize your personal values and philosophies
  • Practice gratitude
    • Understanding what and who you are grateful for can help you better understand your external connection to the world around you
  • Put yourself in other’s shoes
    • Taking the perspective of others can allow you to recognize how your actions might impact others
    • Try reading fiction and biographies to gain perspectives of other people

You might be able to understand by now that self-awareness is not only a key skill that youth need to practice, but a skill that people of all ages need to continue to practice. We hope this information helps you better understand yourself and recognize when your actions are negatively or positively impacting other people around you.