How self-aware do you feel you are?
In terms of psychology, self-awareness is often defined as the ability to engage in some kind of reflective awareness.
As you develop an awareness of the self, you begin to connect with your own unique identity. As you focus on yourself and start evaluating your current behavior, in comparison to your internal standards and values, you become self-conscious, and you become an objective evaluator of yourself.
There are many exercises and activities you can do to develop this self-awareness, from questions you can ask yourself to simple exercises.
In this article, we will take a look at some of those self-awareness tools.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Self-Compassion Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you increase the compassion and kindness you show yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students, or employees show more compassion to themselves.
This Article Contains:
- What are Self-Awareness Activities and Exercises?
- Common Self-Awareness Techniques
- 23 Self-Awareness Questions to Ask
- 2 Self-Awareness Activities for Adults
- 2 Self-Awareness Training Activities for Youth and Students
- 3 Self-Awareness Activities and Exercises for Kids and Toddlers
- 4 Employee Activities for the Workplace
- 2 Self-Awareness Worksheets (Incl. PDF)
- Can We Measure and Test Self-Awareness?
- 2 Useful Tests
- A Take-Home Message
What are Self-Awareness Activities and Exercises?
Self-awareness activities and exercises are tools that can help you to not only reach your goals but also to discover who you are at core level and what you want out of life.
The more you ‘peel the onion’ per se, the more you will discover what lies underneath. Self-awareness and self-improvement go hand in hand.
Becoming more self-aware can help you understand your wants, needs, and desires as well as your strengths and weaknesses.
Self-awareness is also an important tool for success. Those internal mental processes guide how you behave and how you act. When you become more self-aware, you begin uncovering those destructive thought patterns and unhealthy habits.
Common Self-Awareness Techniques
There are many techniques you can practice to develop self-awareness. Some common techniques include:
- Mindfulness Meditation.
- Grounding techniques, and reconnecting to the Earth.
- Tai Chi, Qigong, or Yoga.
- Strength Assessments, such as the Values in Action Strength Test, from the University of Pennsylvania.
- Having a Personal Vision.
- Observing others.
23 Self-Awareness Questions to Ask
While there are probably hundreds of questions you could ask yourself, in terms of self-awareness, there are a few that stand out.
Self-awareness questions on values and life goals
- What does your ideal “you” look like?
- What kinds of dreams and goals do you have?
- Why are these dreams or goals important?
- What is keeping you from these dreams or goals?
- Rank 5-10 of the most important things in your life in your career, family, relationships and love, money, etc.
- Now think about the proportion of time you dedicate to each of these things.
- What would you recommend to your children to do or not to do?
Self-awareness questions on personality
- Describe yourself in three words.
- Ask yourself if your personality has changed since childhood.
- Is your personality like either of your parents?
- What qualities do you most admire in yourself?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- What is your biggest strength?
- What things scare you?
- Do you make decisions logically or intuitively?
- How would you complete the question: “What if?”.
Self-awareness questions on relationships
- Describe your ideal intimate relationship.
- How satisfied are you in your current relationship?
- Who would you call if you only had a few minutes to live? What would you say?
- Who have you loved the most?
- Of all the relationships you have had, describe the best moment.
- Describe a devastating moment in terms of relationships.
- Ask yourself if you treat yourself better than others?
These questions are designed to make you think. Answering these questions is a powerful method of self-discovery.
2 Self-Awareness Activities for Adults
Mindfulness and grounding are compelling ways to enhance self-awareness.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Derived from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is an awareness that arises through paying attention to the present moment, in a non-judgmental manner.
In mindfulness meditation, you learn to focus on the present moment in the same way.
Harvard researchers studied mindfulness and found that it seemed to change the brain in depressed patients. Studies have also shown some fantastic benefits of mind-body practices, such as lower blood pressure in hypersensitive patients after relaxation-response training.
Learning how to do mindfulness meditation is relatively simple.
Here is an excellent technique to get started:
- Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. You may sit in a chair or on the floor. Be sure to keep your back and neck straight.
- As you begin, try and stay focused on the present moment. Don’t think about the past or the future.
- Develop an awareness of the breath, and focus on the feeling of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe in and out. Notice your belly rising and falling, as the air enters your nostrils and leaves your mouth. Notice how each breath is a little different.
- Notice every thought that comes and goes. You can even name your thoughts. If you are worried, acknowledge that and let it go. Don’t ignore your thoughts, but make a note of them, using your breath as an anchor.
- If you have trouble staying focused on the present moment, bring your focus back to your breathing and don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Strive for a minute or so initially and work your way up to longer periods.
2. Grounding Techniques
According to Dr. Sara Allen, a psychotherapist, grounding is a wonderful way to calm down quickly, and it’s also an excellent tool for developing self-awareness.
Grounding is another term for connecting with the Earth and bringing your focus into the present moment, similar to mindfulness.
One simple grounding technique is called the Grounding Chair. (Allen, 2019)
- Find a comfortable chair to sit in and close your eyes. Make sure your feet can touch the floor.
- Start breathing in and exhaling to the count of 3.
- Bring your focus to your body next. Notice how your body feels and how your legs and feet feel. Notice how your back feels against the chair or surface. Notice the texture of the fabric and how the seat feels.
- Next, imagine your feet are pushing down into the ground. Picture your energy draining down from your mind, and out through your feet into the Earth.
- As the energy drains from your head, notice how heavy each part of your body feels as you relax those muscles.
- Feel this sense of heaviness going down your legs, through your feet and down into the ground.
You can do this same technique outside, with your shoes off. Something is compelling about connecting with the Earth in this manner.
2 Self-Awareness Training Activities for Youth and Students
There are many enjoyable self-awareness activities for youths and students as well.
One of these is the Sparks: Peer-to-Peer Interview worksheet. The basis of this exercise is the exploration of a child’s passions, interests, and talents, otherwise known as sparks.
The worksheet has six simple questions that can help someone delve into these ideas.
- What is one of your sparks (passions, interests, talents)?
- How did you discover that this is one of your sparks?
- How do you feel when you are doing your spark?
- Think of somebody who is really into their spark/passion. Describe what you see.
- Do you have a spark champion (an adult who helps you explore and develop your self-awareness skills)? If yes, describe how this person helps you.
- Do you set goals and make plans to get better at your spark/talent? If yes, give me an example.
This worksheet is also available on the actforyouth.net website. This kind of simple questioning can help someone identify and build upon his or her strengths.
Another great resource is the self-awareness worksheet for kids, available on the understood.org website for learning and attention issues.
The self-awareness worksheet has seven questions that can help a child to self-advocate. This worksheet can also be done with the child, to help them build an awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.
|1. I am strong in these areas:
|2. I struggle with:
|3. My favorite thing about school is:
|4. Here’s what the teachers I’m most comfortable with do to make that happen:
|5. The most stressful part of my school day is:
|6. I’d like some help with:
|7. When I need help, I’m comfortable asking for it in the following ways:
3 Self-Awareness Activities and Exercises for Kids and Toddlers
Toddlers and small kids can also benefit from developing self-awareness.
While a child this age may not be entirely self-aware, they do know how to create a mental picture in their mind.
As their self-awareness develops, so does their self-identity. For children of this age, self-awareness is more about noticing the differences and discovering their bodies and emotions.
Engaging in activities that help support this can go a long way to helping them learn and grow.
1. Same Versus Different Activity
Children of this young age do recognize the similarities and differences, which includes things like skin color and other physical characteristics that set them apart from others.
A fun way to do this is to have kids try on different color socks or knee-high nylons, representing different skin colors. As they do this, you can emphasize the beauty and uniqueness of all the different colored skin.
According to childhood specialist Barbara Biles, this kind of simple activity can help a child learn to appreciate their skin color and the skin color of others.
2. Physical Awareness Activity
Physical self-awareness also expands with age. Growth activities are a great way to help promote this. Growth activities help a young child better understand and accept their developing body.
These kinds of encouraging, positive, interactive growth activities can be very helpful. Things like hanging a height and growth chart on the wall or having a child point to various body parts by looking in the mirror, are fun activities. Children can also draw an outline of their body or their hands and feet.
This kind of activity can help promote physical awareness and self-acceptance for a young child.
3. Self-Responsibility Activity
Teaching responsibility can also be considered a self-awareness activity. Young children frequently leave toys around the house without realizing any sense of responsibility.
Making a young child responsible for his toys or possessions in a fun and interactive way can go a long way to teaching them the necessary skills.
According to child educator Jean Warren, this kind of activity can also help a young child attain self-worth and group identity.
These activities and more are available on the healthfully.com website.
4 Employee Activities for the Workplace
Daniel Goleman, a psychologist specializing in self-awareness and emotional intelligence, suggests that people with a solid sense of self-awareness generally have more self-confidence, and they have a more realistic assessment of themselves.
Some activities that can help improve self-awareness include practicing how you feel throughout the day, considering how your negative emotions impact others, thinking about ways you can better manage your emotions as well as taking an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses.
According to Goleman, it’s essential to recognize that emotions can be fleeting, and they shouldn’t be the foundation of decision-making or communication.
As you consider how your negative emotions impact others, like your boss or your co-workers, you also begin to realize how emotions like anger, jealousy, or frustration have a negative impact. Building self-awareness can help you acknowledge the fallout and the repercussions of such behavior.
Learning to manage your emotions better can also make a big difference. Doing so can help you avoid knee-jerk reactions or saying things you don’t mean.
All of this requires taking an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by looking at past performance reviews or asking for feedback from someone you trust like your peers or from your boss. When you do this, you can actively work on improving those weak areas.
2 Self-Awareness Worksheets (Incl. PDF)
The Proust-Questionnaire is a fun game, and was previously used as a parlor game.
The questionnaire contains 35 questions which lead a person into self-discovery and can be seen as a fun way to become more self-aware.
As a sample, questions include:
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
- Who are your heroes in real life?
- What is your greatest regret?
These questions can help build self-awareness and strengthen defense systems against harmful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The Setting Valued Goals worksheet is another useful tool to help someone identify what they want out of life, based on personal values.
Using this type of tool can also help motivate someone who may be struggling in life. Identifying goals can help someone be more self-aware as they start to get an idea of what it will take to achieve this goal.
The reader is prompted to reflect on personal values, with questions such as:
- What do you consider most important in life?
- What makes you feel energized?
- What makes you happiest, most satisfied, and most fulfilled?
Rouge test (self-recognition test) – Geert Stienissen
Can We Measure and Test Self-Awareness?
Dispositional self-awareness can be conceptualized in different ways, including insight, reflection, rumination, and mindfulness. (Sutton, 2016)
According to the research, self-awareness is typically associated with positive psychological wellbeing with varying outcomes.
Self-awareness is generally defined as the extent to which someone is consciously aware of their internal state as well as their relationships or interactions with others. (Sutton, 2016).
This idea can be further broken down into situational self-awareness and dispositional self-awareness.
Situational self-awareness is an automatic process that helps you know where you are and what you can do. It enables you to compare your current actions to your internal standards helping you foresee if you need to make any adjustments. (Silva & Duval, 2001).
Dispositional self-awareness, on the other hand, is the tendency for one to focus on and reflect on their own psychological processes as well as their subjective experiences and relationships with others. (Fenigstein et al., 1975)
Fenigstein also breaks this concept down further, by differentiating between public and private self-consciousness. Public self-consciousness is about how we appear to others where private self-consciousness is more about developing an awareness of our internal state.
One tool for measuring private self-consciousness is The Self-Reflection and Insight Scale or SRIS, (Grant, Franklin, & Langford, 2002)
This scale was developed as a measure of private self-consciousness, which assesses one’s internal state of awareness or insight separately from self-reflection.
Self-reflection refers to the extent to which one evaluates and pays attention to their internal state where insight is more about clarity of understanding.
By developing measures of self-awareness, we can continue expanding our awareness in these areas.
2 Useful Tests
The DISC personality test is designed to not only help you become more self-aware but also to help you increase your personal and professional success.
The test measures your DISC personality type:
This can help you better predict your behavior towards others as well as those things you do every day.
The test contains 28 groups of four statements. The questions are to be answered honestly and spontaneously. The test only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.
Some of the questions include:
- People look up to me.
- I tend to be a kind person.
- I accept life as it comes.
- People say I have a strong personality.
The idea is to study all of the descriptions in each group of four, and select the one that most describes you.
You may also examine the three remaining choices, and decide which description you consider the least like you.
The full version of the test can be accessed via the 123test.com website.
The Jung Personality test can help you explore things like how you think, how you make decisions, and how you deal with others.
The test also helps you explore whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. The test is similar to the Myers-Briggs type model, initially developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers.
The Jung personality test can help answer the following questions:
- What is your personality type?
- What are your Jung types?
- How does your type fit certain kinds of jobs?
The Jung test was developed by the work of Carl Gustav Jung, who was a Swiss psychiatrist and the originator of Jungian Psychology, which breaks the personality up into four archetypes:
- The Persona
- The Anima/Animus
- The Shadow
- The Self
The Jung personality test has 60 choices. Participants choose the statement that best describes them.
A Take-Home Message
Being self-aware is vital for both personal and professional success. When you are self-aware, you can choose where to focus your emotions, your energy, and your personality so that you can better direct the course of your life.
Self-awareness helps you be much more aware of your thoughts and emotions and how these things guide your life.
The best way to continually develop self-awareness is to learn to look at yourself objectively and to try and see yourself as others see or perceive you. The more self-aware you are, the more you can improve and make changes in your life.
If you enjoyed this topic, for further reading we share a short selection of the 10 Best Self-Awareness books and explore the benefits of self-awareness according to science.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Self Compassion Exercises for free.
- 23 Thought-provoking Questions To Boost Your Self-awareness. (2019, February 17). Retrieved from https://ourmindfullife.com/23-self-awareness-questions/
- Allen, S. (2019, February 13). 7 Simple Grounding Techniques For Calming Down Quickly. Retrieved from https://drsarahallen.com/7-ways-to-calm/
- Bhasin, M. K., Denninger, J. W., Huffman, J. C., Joseph, M. G., Niles, H., Chad-Friedman, E., … Libermann, T. A. (2018, May). Specific Transcriptome Changes Associated with Blood Pressure Reduction in Hypertensive Patients After Relaxation Response Training. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29616846
- Davenport, B. (2019, March 12) Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace. Retrieved from https://liveboldandbloom.com/02/self-awareness-2/emotional-intelligence-workplace
- Fenigstein A., Scheier M. F., Buss A. H. (1975). Public and private self-consciousness: Assessment and theory. Journal of Counselling and Clinical Psychology, 43(4), 522–527.
- Grant A. M., Franklin J., Langford P. (2002). The Self-Reflection and Insight Scale: A new measure of private self-consciousness. Social Behavior and Personality, 30(8), 821–835.
- Jeffrey, S. (2019, April 20). 15 Self Awareness Activities and Exercises to Build Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from https://scottjeffrey.com/self-awareness-activities-exercises/
- Johnston, J. (2019, January 10). Activities for Preschool-Age Children About Self Awareness. Retrieved from https://healthfully.com/512350-activities-for-preschool-age-children-about-self-awareness.html
- Nguyen. (2016, January 11). 12 Self-Awareness Exercises That Fuel Success. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254669
- Powell, A. (2018, August 27). Harvard researchers study how mindfulness may change the brain in depressed patients. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/
- Ron Tamir Nehr. (2019, July 17). Self Awareness: 10 Great Techniques. Retrieved from https://rontamirnehr.com/self-awareness-techniques/
- Sutton, A. (2016, November 18). Measuring the Effects of Self-Awareness: Construction of the Self-Awareness Outcomes Questionnaire. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5114878/
- Wong, C. (2019, September 3). Mindfulness Meditation – How Do I Do It? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/mindfulness-meditation-88369
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What our readers think
This is a great and comprehensive write-up.I really appreciate it.
Dear Professor Riopel,
I am allocated to a group of young people (age 18-21) who have no clue about self -awareness. It is my first time to teach it so I am very grateful to use your notes if you don’t mind me using them to explain self awareness.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you! Alice
Sounds like you’ve got quite the job ahead of you! Yes, we’d be delighted for you to use these materials to help with your teaching, provided you could include a reference and citation on any printed materials.
Best of luck with it.
– Nicole | Community Manager
Written in a very interesting way and the topic gives good insight.
Great activities to work with on ourselves and in practice!
this article was extremely helpful
This was very helpful to me.
I would highly recommend that you read Merve Emre’s book, “The Power Brokers: The History of the Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing. It provides the historical perspective, the social context, the value of the MBTI and a detailed discussion of the years of highly valid and reliable validation studies.
I am loving this sentence :
“Self-awareness and self-improvement go hand in hand.”
It’s too true, right? Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂
– Nicole | Community Manager
Dear Professor Riopel,
I am Aya, a student at the Lebanese International University (LIU).
I am pursuing my research and thesis.
My topic of interest is Building leadership in KGs.
We are wondering my adviser and myself about a possible collaboration with yourself on the topic.
Why would like to have your preliminary opinion on the matter .
We know that research is greedy by nature and please allow us to indulge on your research interests to have your input and later on your professional analysis.
Hope to hear from you.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year