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In today’s demanding lifestyle, developing self-awareness is a crucial survival skill. It is also the cornerstone for personal growth and success.
Organizational psychologist and best-selling author Tasha Eurich has dipped her hands in extensive research on self-awareness (and has been doing so for more than 15 years). She has revealed surprising insights into the nature and the practical application of self-awareness.
According to Dr. Eurich, there are two components of self-awareness: internal vs external self-awareness. But what’s the difference between the two, and how can we develop them effectively?
When I think about internal self-awareness, I focus on understanding my thoughts, emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s about introspection and being aware of how I react to various situations, making the necessary adjustments to improve and grow.
It involves a variety of techniques, such as meditation, journaling, and self-reflection, that encourage inner exploration and the conscious recognition of my patterns and habits.
On the other hand, external self-awareness centers around my perception of how others view me, helping me adapt to different social situations and interactions. Developing external awareness involves actively seeking feedback, nurturing empathetic abilities, and practicing effective communication.
However, this only scratched the surface of Dr. Eurich’s research. If you want to delve deeper and unlock the secrets of developing both internal and external self-awareness, keep on reading!
What Is Self-Awareness?
Before we define self-awareness, let me ask you a question. How self-aware do you think you are?
After interviewing various individuals, Dr. Eurich and her team came up with an unexpected finding. Even though most people consider themselves to be self-aware, only a minority of 10-15% of them actually fit their criteria. This highlights how rare self-awareness actually is. This makes it all the more important to define what it means.
Self-awareness is the ability to accurately perceive our own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and how these factors impact ourselves and others. The two key facets in understanding self-awareness are internal self-awareness and external self-awareness.
What Is Internal Self-Awareness?
Internal self-awareness entails recognizing our inner thoughts, emotions, and values. It plays a critical role in guiding our choices and decision-making, enhancing our overall well-being, and helping us achieve personal growth.
Internal self-awareness deals with examining our own values, goals, emotions, and thoughts. To put it simply, it’s the process of understanding ourselves from within.
Internal self-awareness plays a critical role in our personal and professional lives. Dr. Eurich has found a positive relationship between internal self-awareness and job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness.
When we’re cognizant of our emotions and thoughts, we can make better decisions, improve our relationships, and attain personal growth. It can be challenging to develop, but it’s worth the effort as it helps us understand our motivations and true selves.
What is External Self-Awareness?
External self-awareness, on the other hand, refers to our ability to understand how others perceive us. It’s the recognition of the impact we have on people and the world around us.
Becoming more aware of how we’re perceived by others can lead to improved communication and heightened empathy. It makes us more receptive to feedback and attuned to the needs of others.
Therefore, developing external awareness can lead to improved relationships and better collaboration, and overall achieving better outcomes in social or work-related situations.
Exploring The Connection: Internal VS External Self-Awareness
Now that we have a better understanding of these concepts, it’s time to see how internal vs external self-awareness line up against each other. Is there a correlation between them? Are they co-dependant?
One would think that individuals with high internal self-awareness would also have high external self-awareness and vice versa. However, Dr. Eurich’s research has shown that there is no such relationship between them.
It’s important to note that both are essential for a well-rounded understanding of oneself. Emphasizing one over the other may lead to an imbalance in our self-perception, impacting our relationships and success.
That’s why it’s crucial to develop and maintain a balanced approach to both types of self-awareness. By exploring and developing both, we can become more empathetic, confident, and adaptable, ultimately improving our overall quality of life.
The 4 Self-Awareness Archetypes
If the two types of self-awareness are independent, anyone could rank low or high to each of them. That is why Dr. Eurich has come up with 4 archetype leadership figures based on how low or high they rank in internal vs external self-awareness:
- Seekers: People with low internal and external self-awareness who don’t know themselves or how others perceive them.
- Pleasers: Individuals with low internal but high external self-awareness. They tend to make choices that accommodate others more than themselves.
- Introspectors: Those with high internal but low external self-awareness. These people are clear on who they are but bad at receiving feedback.
- Aware: People who rank high in both types of self-awareness. They strike a balance between acting for their own interest and valuing the opinions of others.
The purpose of these archetypes is guidance. By knowing under which category you fall, you can identify opportunities for improvement. Indeed, self-awareness is a buildable skill. With continuous work and improvement, you can become a highly self-aware individual.
Improving Your Self-Awareness Journey
How Do You Develop Internal Self-Awareness?
As we’ve established, internal self-awareness refers to the knowledge of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and values. It’s all about understanding what truly drives us and being honest with ourselves. Developing internal self-awareness usually involves:
- Introspection: Taking time for self-reflection allows us to analyze our thought patterns, emotions, and actions. Journaling, meditation, or simply spending some quiet time alone can help us tune into our inner experiences. Dr. Eurich and her team have discovered that highly self-aware individuals tend to ask “what” more than “why” because “what” questions tend to produce more objective and less biased answers. For example, instead of asking, “Why am I getting anxious talking in front of a crowd?” ask, “What can I improve to feel more comfortable talking in front of a crowd?”
- Journaling: Writing down experiences and emotions can assist in recognizing triggers, processing emotions, and promoting self-discovery. Here, you can find handpicked journal prompts to dive deeper into any area of interest.
- Meditation: Regular meditation encourages self-reflection and provides insight into your emotions and values. You can find several guided meditation videos online to help you get started.
- Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness helps us become more present and attentive to our thoughts and feelings. Engaging in activities such as deep breathing, yoga, or just taking a walk outdoors can enable us to be more mindful and attentive to our internal state.
- Seek feedback: It’s essential to understand our strengths and weaknesses. Engaging in honest conversations with trusted individuals can help us uncover areas of improvement for our personal development.
- Set goals: Establish personal and professional goals that align with your values to navigate your path effectively.
- Identifying Core Values: Recognizing what truly matters to us and how they align with our actions can promote self-awareness. Make a list of your key values and consider how these values influence your daily life and decision-making.
How Do You Develop External Self-Awareness?
On the other hand, external self-awareness is our understanding of how we are perceived by others. It’s about being open to feedback and maintaining a neutral approach in various situations. Gaining external self-awareness typically involves:
- Active Listening: When interacting with others, make an effort to truly listen to their viewpoints without jumping to conclusions. This allows us to open ourselves up to differing perspectives and reactions.
- Seeking feedback: Constructive criticism is a valuable resource when seeking self-improvement. Embrace feedback from others and work on implementing the suggested changes to improve our external self-awareness.
- Asking Questions: Inquiring about other people’s opinions and experiences helps us see things from their perspective, enabling us to comprehend how our behavior might impact them.
- Observing Non-Verbal Cues: Paying attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice can provide essential insights about what others might be feeling or thinking in response to our behavior.
Conclusion: Finding Your Balance
There you have it! Together, we explored the intricacies of internal vs external self-awareness. We also established that being more self-aware allows us to better understand ourselves and others, ultimately leading to a harmonious existence.
Striking the right balance between internal and external self-awareness is crucial for personal growth and improved relationships. To find a balance between these two types of self-awareness, it’s important to integrate techniques from both spheres into our daily routines.
For instance, incorporating meditation sessions and journaling can help build internal self-awareness, while regularly seeking external feedback from others will enhance external awareness.
By practicing and cultivating these skills, we can become more comfortable with who we are and develop more fulfilling relationships with others. So, it’s time to take the first step towards finding that balance and embracing the journey of self-awareness.