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The Importance of Self-Awareness On Mental Health

Updated: Apr 12

Have you ever thought, “I feel this way and I’m not even sure why.” This is a common statement I hear from clients of all ages.

silhouette of a woman's face with a sunset in ocean view

Once you understand that our emotions are the messenger between the body and mind, and our behavior is usually a natural by-product, you can find clues about what you feel. So, how do we figure out what an emotion or our behavior is trying to convey? Say hello to self-awareness. You know, the reflective mirror that gives us “ah-ha” moments in life.

So What Exactly is Self-Awareness and Why Is It Important?

Self-awareness is defined as the conscious knowledge of our thoughts, feelings, motives, and behavior. It is what gives light into who we are and why we do the things we do – and is a major key to successful therapy! It can be uncomfortable when others point out behavioral patterns that need to change. Let’s face it, it can be difficult to face ourselves sometimes. The good news is that self-awareness allows you to take control of your own choices so that you can bring the change you want for yourself.

Without self-awareness, it can be easy to have the mindset that life happens to us instead of making new choices that can create a better outcome. In addition, anxiety, confusion, and resentment toward others or even ourselves are often a result of not having self-awareness. This leads to feeling stuck in our situations or what Fritz Perls, a psychiatrist who founded Gestalt Therapy, refers to as “unfinished business.” That is when you know it is time to self-reflect.

Tips to Improve Your Self-Awareness

Begin with Curiosity Identifying the root of who we are, our motives for the decisions we make, and exploring what is driving specific emotions are good first steps. Curiosity is what helps you explore why you do or react in the way you do. Observation is a crucial element in this area.

Recognize Patterns Through acknowledgement and acceptance of what you discover, you can begin to learn what you may need to work on. Sometimes it is essential to identify family patterns as well that may naturally live within you.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone I know, this may be the most difficult step. Most of us don’t like change. However, it is through experience that we learn who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, and what is true.

A major step to changing your life is acknowledging your issues and understanding why you have them. This would not be possible without self-awareness. Although it can be uncomfortable, it is a great skill to have when figuring out life’s difficulties and ending a cycle of unwanted behaviors. The path of healing often begins with facing yourself.

Alana is a Licensed Professional Counselor - Associate and practices under the supervision of Roxanne Deams, LPC-S.

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