Self-awareness doesn’t always come easy, but it’s always worth it.
Folks who are highly self-aware come from all walks of life, but they share certain traits in common.
Here’s how you can spot the most self-aware individuals out of the crowd.
1) Knowing what drives you
When you are highly self-aware you know what drives you.
This means that you have a strong why for what you do.
The way this manifests is that you’re clear about what you want and why you want it.
As a result, projects, people and goals that lead away from your core motivations are not what you’re interested in.
People are drawn to you because you’re always pursuing something that’s meaningful to you.
2) Asking questions when everybody else is silent
Highly self-aware people are incurably curious.
If that’s you then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
On a museum tour you’re asking about the history of a vase or a historical treaty on display and you want to know more and dig deep into the roots.
You’re not faking it, you really want to know.
You’re the one asking questions when everybody else is silent.
Why? Because you have a real hunger for knowledge, the kind of hunger that leads to endless learning and self-awareness.
3) Finding spiritual truth that speaks to you
Being highly self-aware means that you’ve also done a lot of reflection and exploration of spirituality and finding your truth.
You may be spiritual or non-spiritual, religious or non-religious, but either way you are not apathetic about your spiritual journey or anyone else’s.
As you gain in self-awareness, many of the manipulative tactics and ideas of others become more obvious as well, leading to a journey of self-discovery.
You bust through many self-limiting beliefs and narratives and find spiritual truth that speaks to you.
An amazing resource I found for this is this free masterclass on how to free your mind from the shaman Rudá Iandê.
Rudá takes you on a powerful journey in transcending limiting beliefs so you can bring more freedom and authenticity into your life.
4) Practicing empathy for other people
Highly self-aware people don’t have to go out of their way to be empathetic, because it comes naturally as a result.
The more you know about yourself and are in touch with your motivations, emotions and experiences, the more the experiences of others become clear to you.
The Golden Rule of treating others as you’d wish to be treated is no longer just a rule or an idea to you, it’s a daily reality.
You do your best to treat people with respect and consideration because your high level of self-awareness makes you highly aware of how your behavior and actions affects those around you.
5) Being able to discuss difficult emotions
Highly self-aware people aren’t afraid to talk about difficult emotions.
If that’s you, then you know what I mean:
You don’t feel shame about discussing depression, anxiety, neediness or loneliness.
You don’t feel a need to be happier or more “enlightened” than others or to put on a perfect social mask.
You’re willing to show yourself, warts and all, because you know that in doing so you encourage others to also be more open about what they’re going through as well.
6) Leaving your ego out of your achievements
Being very self-aware means that you recognize your own strengths and weaknesses very clearly.
As a result, you recognize how easy it is to become arrogant and prideful about your value and accomplishments.
Self-aware people do their best to leave their ego out of achievements.
You care more about the mission than being praised for your part in it.
The reason is that tying up your achievements with your ego clouds your judgment and makes you much more prone to flattery, impulsive mistakes and self-centered obstinacy.
7) Learning from mistakes and missteps
Highly self-aware people can be seen through their actions and long-term behavior.
This one is extremely important and valuable:
It’s the ability and desire to learn from mistakes and missteps and do better next time.
This doesn’t even necessarily mean things that are your fault.
A highly self-aware person is also aware of their tendency to trust the wrong people, for example, or to be too optimistic in entering a new relationship.
As a result, they recalibrate their own judgments and behavior to approach situations better next time.
8) Taking financial responsibility when you could avoid it
Not everybody has the same financial resources by any stretch of the imagination.
Some are born into wealth, some become wealthy, others find themselves in dire circumstances often through no fault of their own.
But deciding to take financial responsibility is a choice:
Even if it’s not a very high dollar amount, as a self-aware person you choose to pay for your date when you go out and not overspend.
You minimize use of your credit card, at least in any irresponsible when and you handle your finances without asking others to bail you out, even if you know you could.
9) Being honest in relationships even when there’s no clear benefit
There are times when telling the truth in a relationship can be uncomfortable and even against your interest.
For example, admitting you have a fear of too much intimacy or that you have a very bad temper that sometimes comes out are not things you’d necessarily want to tell a partner.
At least not one who you cared a lot about.
But as a highly self-aware person you know that trying to censor or trim yourself to fit another person is bad news and will only weaken the chance at a real future.
You tell the truth about yourself and what’s going on even if it doesn’t benefit you, because the right partner who truly cares for you will react with understanding and patience.
10) You enjoy constructive criticism and don’t get offended by it
As a self-aware person, you don’t get upset and personally offended by criticism.
As long as the criticism is well-founded or has a point then you consider it and take what lessons from it that you can.
If it’s random and unfair criticism then you pity the person heaping it on you and let the unfair hate strengthen your will and resolve.
“Basketball great LeBron James likes criticism; he says it ‘makes you strong’.
“Okay, that’s too difficult for most of us. But self-aware people are not undone or shut down or sent into orbit by negative feedback — as long as it’s fair and reasonable.”
11) Disagreeing respectfully without taking it personally
People who aren’t very self-aware have a lot of trouble practicing critical thinking.
As a result, they find it very hard to disagree with somebody without taking it personally.
If you’re on the higher end of the self-awareness spectrum, it’s a lot different:
You’re able to fundamentally disagree with someone but still be respectful and not be personally offended or resentful towards them.
For one thing you know that we all evolve and that their opinions now may one day shift completely.
For another thing, your self-awareness means you know that wading into a resentful personal conflict isn’t good for you and won’t yield any beneficial outcome.
12) Working with people whose strengths complement your weaknesses
Highly self-aware people are smart about who they partner up with and collaborate with.
While you like to encourage everyone to reach their potential, as a highly self-aware person you’re likely to gravitate towards those who are strong in the ways they’re not.
This is the ideal way to build every strong team and collaboration:
Put people together with different skills who can complement each other’s talents.
It takes self-awareness to know your own faults and pluses and to see how others could help support areas where you’re not as strong and vice versa.
High self-awareness doesn’t come easy
High self-awareness rarely comes randomly or out of the blue.
It tends to be hard-won through experience and painful lessons.
Acting on instinct and doing whatever comes to mind tends to produce very bad results and problems.
As a result, you become more self-aware, empathetic and situationally conscious.
The good news is that self-awareness is exponential:
The more you become self-aware the easier it gets to see your own blind spots and act in a more responsible, ethical manner.