The First Step Toward Emotional Intelligence Is Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of achieving emotional intelligence. When you become self-aware you begin to know yourself, including your emotions, behaviors and in-depth feelings. You become are the focus of attention, but you don’t have to think about it constantly.

Your self-awareness will come into focus as you react to various situations in your life. Your personality plays an important part in this puzzle and you begin to realize how different you are than others.

Humans usually begin self-awareness at about a year of age. By 1 ½ years old they become much more developed and self-aware. One study had researchers place a red dot on a toddler’s nose and then held a mirror up so they could see it.

The children who recognized their own image in the mirror touched their noses rather than the mirror’s reflection, indicating that they were more aware of themselves. Later, humans learn to be self-aware when expressing emotions and the impact it has on others.

The frontal lobe area of the brain is most involved in developing self-awareness as studies of brain imaging indicate. But, even if that area of the brain is damaged, people can still become more self-aware through dealings and interactions with others.

There are levels of self-awareness as we grow into adults. As children approach adulthood, they become more acutely aware of themselves – from differentiation as a toddler knows that the dot in the mirror is actually part of him.

After differentiation, children become more aware of their movements and are able to identify that they are the reflection in the mirror rather than someone else. The level of permanence appears when children are able to identify themselves in pictures and videos.

The highest level of self-awareness is self-consciousness (meta self-awareness) where they can recognize how they may appear to others. As self-awareness emerges, there are two types that stand out for humans – public and private.

You have public self-awareness when you become aware of the image you present to others. Those who follow rules and social expectations have public self-awareness and may behave according to what is acceptable.

Private type of self-awareness is when you know certain things about yourself, but keep it private. You may have moments of anxiety about some types of situations – such as public speaking – but keep that emotion to yourself.

Self-consciousness is when you become acutely aware of yourself and feel awkward with others. Emotional intelligence helps you know the difference in private and public self-awareness.

When you’re more aware of which type of emotion is causing your discomfort, you can take control and become more appreciative of the things that set you apart from others. That ability to know yourself and accept yourself for who you are is emotional intelligence.

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