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The Five Keys of Self Awareness


While we don't usually change our personalities based on what we learn about ourselves, understanding your personality traits will help you effectively analyze many of your life decisions and can help you make better choices in all areas of life.  For example, a highly introverted person would likely experience more stress in a sales position than an extroverted person would. As an introvert, your choice would be to either learn the skills and extrovert behaviors necessary for a sales position or find a job more compatible with your personality.

Values and Life Purpose

Personal values are an inherent part of you and are closely tied to your life purpose - the reason you are here. How you live your life is based on your personal values. Living according to your values makes you feel comfortable and aligned with your life purpose.  When you fail to live your life in alignment with your values, you will feel uncomfortable and may experience guilt, fear, anxiety, etc. This results in an unsettling feeling of being out of kilter with the world. For example, if one of your personal values is "being in integrity" or "living a spiritual life," it's very easy to lose sight of those values in day-to-day living.

Habits, Beliefs, and Attitudes

Our habits are the behaviors we repeat routinely and often unconsciously or automatically based on our beliefs or attitudes. Because we are typically unaware of our beliefs, attitudes, and habits, we will not be conscious of unproductive behaviors that sabotage our goals. Awareness of our thoughts, patterns, and habits will help us replace sabotaging habits with those that are productive and support our goals.  Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."


Maslow and others have identified a variety of psychological needs that drive our behaviors, such as our need for esteem, affection, achievement, control, and power.  Understanding your needs and how they influence your behaviors, you will be better equipped to understand how they affect your interpersonal relationships. Needs cause motivation, and when unmet, they result in an unresolved "issue" that can cause frustration, conflict, and stress.


Understanding your own feelings, what causes them, and how they impact your thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and actions is emotional self-awareness. Someone with high emotional self-awareness understands the internal process associated with emotional experiences and, as a result, has greater control over them. This is especially important when dealing with negative feelings such as guilt, anger, humiliation, etc., that can shift your mindset and sabotage your goals.

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