Self-Awareness and Insight: How to Develop It

The journey to self-awareness is one that lasts a lifetime — it requires courage, energy, and commitment to see ourselves more clearly. And though the process is complex, it always starts with a simple (but not easy) decision: to question our assumptions about ourselves, to take charge and proactively examine how we’re seen, and to pair our quest for the truth with a positive mind-set and self-acceptance. In a nutshell, we start by making the decision to become braver but wiser. Insight author Tasha Eurich

As it turns out, solid information about the development of insight and self-awareness is pretty scarce.

One article, though, by leadership expert Bill George, Psychology Today, offers some basic first steps:

  1. Understand Your Life Story—Otherwise known as your “narrative identity,” which “frames both your current actions and your future goals.”
  2. Create a Daily Habit of Self-reflection—At least 20 minutes a day do an activity such as journalling, taking a walk, meditation, or whatever gives you the time and ability to focus on important thoughts and feelings.
  3. Seek Honest Feedback—Otherwise we’re likely to have blind spots about ourselves.

And now there’s a new book by organizational psychologist and researcher Tasha Eurich called Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life, called by its publisher the “first definitive book on the science of self-awareness.” 

Eurich states that while 95% of us think we have self-awareness—but get this—only 10 to 15% actually do.

Furthermore, as told to Melissa Dahl, The Cut, there are two types of self-awareness: internal and external, the latter being “knowing how other people see me.” The unfortunate truth is that other people are often more accurate about us than we are about ourselves.

One of the interesting features of Eurich’s website is an insight quiz that only requires about five minutes of your time. The catch? You’ll need a friend or someone in your life willing to answer the same questions privately about you and report back. See this link to participate.

Meanwhile, how can we develop increased self-awareness? Introspection can be helpful but doesn’t always actually lead to insight. Nor do journalling and therapy always give us what we need in this regard, says Eurich. Guess you’ll have to read the book to get the answers.

Below, a brief book trailer:

Along with many other reviewers, writer Chip Heath praises Insight: “Think of the most cluelessly unselfaware person you know: your boss, annoying neighbor, brother-in-law. How can we avoid being that person? And teach our kids to avoid being that person as well? Eurich summarizes the fascinating science about self insight, but–perhaps more importantly–she studies admirable individuals who are self-aware in a way that is applauded by their peers. You’ll benefit from knowing what they know. Buy a copy for yourself and buy another to leave, anonymously, on your boss’s desk.”

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