10 signs you’re becoming more self-aware and confident as you get older, according to psychology

Do you ever stop and notice how you’re handling things a bit differently as you get older? Like, maybe you’re not sweating the small stuff as much, or you’re finally feeling okay saying no when you need to. 

This is something I realized the other day when a friend of mine asked me to do a favor. I noticed I refused quickly, with just a very short explanation of why I couldn’t. 

And get this – with zero guilt. 

The younger me could never. She would’ve said yes despite knowing it would spread her already thin self even thinner. And then she’d hate herself for not having the balls to say no. (And then she’d feel like a victim!)

It’s pretty cool to see ourselves changing, isn’t it? Getting older comes with its perks, and one of the big ones is gaining a bit more self-awareness and confidence. 

Today, let’s talk about that. Here are 10 signs you’re becoming more self-aware and confident as time passes, according to psychology. 

1) You feel more comfortable saying “no”

I’ll start with the example I mentioned above – saying “no”. For many people, the idea of turning someone down can feel downright uncomfortable. 

We worry about disappointing others, or worse, we fear they might think less of us. 

But if you’re doing life right, and you’re truly getting to know yourself better, you begin to see how saying “no” is a path to freedom and self-respect. 

You come to see your time and energy for what they are – precious resources you must guard and be intentional about. 

Saying “no” means you’re making informed choices about your life, and that’s a clear sign of growing self-awareness and confidence. 

2) You set and respect your own boundaries

This is closely connected with my previous point, as saying “no” is just one way you’re establishing your boundaries. 

When you’re not very self-aware and confident, it can be hard to set and enforce your own boundaries. According to Accelerated Resolution Therapy, this can be due to any of these reasons: 

  • Fear of conflict and rejection
  • Low self-esteem and lack of self-worth
  • People-pleasing tendencies
  • Lack of assertiveness skills
  • Fear of losing relationships
  • Fear of being judged or rejected
  • Lack of self-awareness

But the more you grow in self-awareness, the more you grow in confidence. You become more in tune with what your soul needs to be healthy. 

And so…you begin to choose yourself. 

Ask yourself these questions: Am I now more likely to express what I’m comfortable or uncomfortable with? Am I no longer shaken when someone disagrees with me? 

If the answer is yes, then you know what that means – you’re much more self-aware and confident than you used to be! 

3) You can accept compliments

In the past, whenever someone would give me a compliment, I’d turn red and go all “aww shucks” on the person. 

I found receiving compliments to be so awkward. I’d wave it away or say things like, “Oh, thanks, but anybody can do it, really.” Or, “I just got lucky…”

What I’ve realized since then is that I was being so rude to myself. I was dismissing my efforts, talents, all the hard work I put into what I do. 

Why was I doing that, when I would never do it to a friend? 

Short answer: low self-esteem.

Becoming more self-aware and confident means you finally see your strengths and your own worth. 

So when someone compliments you, you take it graciously, in the spirit it was given,  because you no longer feel undeserving of it.

4) You can accept criticism

In the same way, self-awareness makes you much more aware of your weaknesses. And you no longer feel like it’s something to hide. 

So, constructive criticism becomes easier to accept. In fact, you probably even venture to seek feedback from other people so you can improve. 

That’s really a huge step, you know. There’s so much wisdom in it! 

It means you’ve developed enough self-confidence to know that you won’t break if you get negative feedback. 

5) You actively listen more than you speak

Whenever I see someone listening more than they speak, they just instantly come across as more self-aware and composed to me. 

Why? 

Because it tells me two things: 

First, the person isn’t out to prove anything; therefore, they’re confident in themselves. 

And second, they’re genuinely interested in others, which shows a level of empathy and understanding that only comes with a high degree of self-awareness.

According to Power Up Leadership, “Building listening skills requires a developed self-awareness. Self-awareness allows us to address how we receive information and in turn, how we respond to it.”

As you become more self-aware and confident, you find that you’re less compelled to dominate conversations to affirm your presence or value. 

You’re quite the opposite – comfortable enough with yourself to let others shine. 

This brings me to the next point…

6) You stop comparing yourself to others

Confident people don’t do comparisons, full stop. 

As you grow older and more self-aware, you’ve probably realized that there’s no point to it. Why compare when we’re all running our own races, right? 

Besides, you know it has the potential to make you feel bad about yourself, so why should you keep doing that?

Being self-aware and knowing which areas you need to improve on helps you shift your perspective. 

Your benchmark for progress or success is no longer dependent on how you measure up against others. 

It’s now about how you measure up against yesterday’s version of you. That’s also why…

7) You no longer struggle with people-pleasing or peer pressure

This is something I’ve noticed in myself as well. I’ve come to realize that I don’t worry anymore if people like me. 

The more important question now is, “Do I like me?”

When you’re younger or less confident, it’s easy to fall into the trap of molding yourself to fit others’ expectations, often at the expense of your own happiness and identity.

However, as you mature, you start to value your own approval more than anyone else’s. And you then make decisions that align with what you desire and value, not just what might please someone else. 

That’s another big step, isn’t it? Moving away from people-pleasing and the sway of peer pressure nudges us closer towards authentic living.

8) You embrace uncertainty

How do you deal with not knowing? Uncertainty can make us feel two ways – afraid or excited. 

If you tend to fall into the latter category, that’s a sign you’re now more self-aware and confident. 

How does it work that way? 

Jude Jennison, author of “Leadership Through Uncertainty”, explains it so well: 

“True self-awareness involves noticing the patterns of behaviour that we exhibit, the impact of them and then the choice to do something different if it is not what we want. The choices you make become the framework for operating in uncertainty.”

What’s more, it’s kind of a positive feedback loop – the more you practice operating in uncertainty, the more confident you become. 

And that makes uncertainty eventually become a friend, not an enemy. 

9) You choose peace 

Back in my 20s, I was quite the reactionary – I’d jump into arguments at the drop of a hat. If anyone said something off, I’d call them out, ready to go. Whatever the hot topic of the day was, I’d have a strongly worded opinion. 

But over the years, I’ve noticed that I’ve become less so. I do still have opinions, of course, but I no longer feel the need to get combative about them, nor express them all the time. Or to sway people over to my way of thinking. 

This might sound counterintuitive – doesn’t confidence make us more assertive? 

Yes, it definitely does. But it also makes us more selective. 

We come to realize that not every battle is worth fighting, especially not when your mental and emotional health is at stake. 

As I mentioned earlier, self-awareness trains us to be more mindful of our time and energy. 

And so we learn to choose inner peace over getting worked up over every little thing. Over being right (after all, if you’re confident, you already know in your heart that you’re right, anyway!)

10) You reflect on your past without dwelling on it

Lastly, when you have more self-awareness and confidence as you grow older, you get a great balance of intimacy and distance when reflecting on your past

What do I mean by that? 

Simply this – you can dig really deep and examine your wounds and issues without getting sucked into a vortex of pain and regret. 

This is so important because you need a fairly objective eye in order to achieve healing. 

It’s what will help you look back, understand the lessons, and acknowledge the tough times without dragging all that old baggage into your present.

A hard, honest look and taking away only what helps you grow – that’s a sign of real self-awareness and a huge step towards living a more confident and fulfilling life.

I lost my hair in my early 20s and tried to hold on by keeping it short. Then I finally found my groove in life by shaving it all off.

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