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I wanted to delve into the topic of self-awareness because it’s one of those absolutely crucial things that help us move forward in life.

A lot of people talk about how you need to be self-aware, but everyone lands on the same question… how?

How do you actually build and develop that skill?

That’s what I want to break down simply for you today and give you some things that you can use.

First, let’s get a general definition of self-awareness.

Self-awareness is an understanding of what is taking place in your experience.

Thoughts, feelings, actions, a way of being.

It’s about understanding how you are showing up in the world and what’s taking place in your experience.

Now, why do we need to develop this (besides the obvious)?

Because self-awareness allows us to take a look at our lives and change course if needed. We are able to see if we are showing up in the world in healthy or destructive ways.

And when we come to a deeper insight into how we function in the world and with the people in it, we can shift that experience if needed.

If you don’t have that, you can’t change anything at all.

You’re a slave to your experiences, and they will repeat over and over again.

So that’s our general understanding.

There are two different ways to build self-awareness.

The first one is self-reflection.

Self-reflection is when we look back on an experience – whether 10 seconds ago or 10 years ago – and seek to learn from the experience.

What really happened here?
How did I show up in this situation?
What was I feeling, and what was I thinking?

When you look back on the past through the eyes of understanding and seek wisdom, you start to see how events transpired the way they did and your role in them.

What eventually comes of this is a deeper insight into how you can work with your thoughts, emotions, and actions to arrive at a better outcome.

So that’s self-reflection.

The act of looking back on the past and gaining insight into how and why things happened the way they did.

Next is self-observation, and this is where things get a bit more interesting.

Self-observation is fundamentally about understanding what is happening for you in the moment.

How am I showing up right now?
What’s taking place in this moment?
Do I need to shift my way of being?

This is a bit trickier because there are so many thoughts and emotions flying around all the time that it can be difficult to slow things down enough to see yourself in the moment.

But, when you can take a step back from those thoughts and emotions – stepping out of the river, I call it – and see what’s taking place, you can make a change in the moment.

When we can change in the moment we are in, we have far more control in creating the outcome we want.

Harder to do?


But it’s an absolutely critical part in developing well-rounded self-awareness.


But how do we develop these two really important elements of self-awareness?

For self-reflection, we start to look at moments and situations in our lives and try to look at them as objectively as we can.

As I said above, it’s critical to look at the past through the eyes of wisdom and understanding.

If you go down the path of judgment and self-criticism, you will be blinded by a flood of negativity.

So if you’re going to look, look with wisdom.

By looking at the past through these eyes, you will start to gain insight into your story and how it has unfolded.

Accountability. Responsibility. Compassion. Understanding.

All of these things flow into the forefront of your mind as you start to see just how much of an impact your way of showing up in the world has had on specific things taking place.

These things are the building blocks of our freedom.

As for self-observation, we practice stopping in the moment and seeing how we are showing up in the world.

What’s here right now?
What emotions are here?
What are the thoughts that are running through my mind?
What’s taking place in my body?

These questions that you ask are the keys to understanding what’s taking place in the moment.

Another great way of engaging in self-observation is the practice of meditation, which I will be writing an entire other article about.

In the end, self-awareness practices help us understand ourselves on a far deeper level and give us the capacity to change how we will show up in the future.

You can free yourself from repeating patterns and make sure that the way forward represents the best of who you are.

And as I always love to say…

In order to know where you’re going, you have to understand where you’ve been.

Hope this helps.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project


PS. If you’re looking for some help/support navigating through life’s challenges and would like to learn more about working with me in my coaching program privately, head to