What is self-awareness?

By Amanda Morin

At a glance

  • Self-awareness is the ability to tune in to your feelings, thoughts, and actions.

  • Being self-aware also means being able to recognize how other people see you.

  • People who are self-aware recognize their strengths and their challenges.

You might hear people talk about self-awareness as an important skill — not just for kids, but for adults, too. Self-awareness is the ability to tune in to your own feelings, thoughts, and actions.

When people are self-aware, they understand their strengths and challenges and know what helps them thrive. They also understand that how they see themselves may be different from how others see them.

People with strong self-awareness skills can:

  • Recognize their strengths and challenges
  • Understand and talk about their needs and feelings
  • Recognize other people’s needs and feelings
  • See how their behavior affects others
  • Develop a growth mindset and learn from their mistakes

When people understand themselves better, it’s easier for them to build positive self-esteem. That's especially important for people who learn and think differently and who struggle with certain skills and tasks.

Self-awareness gives them a way to look not just at their challenges, but also to see what they’re good at. 

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.