Emotional self-awareness: what does it consist of?

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Joe Dispenza


Emotional self-awareness: what does it consist of?

Those who enjoy good emotional self-awareness know how to connect with themselves to find out what happens inside them. This competence of emotional intelligence is fundamental for psychological well-being.

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: February 18, 2022

Emotional self-awareness is the ability to connect with oneself and understand one's emotional states. Easy to define, but in reality a very complicated task to put into practice, to which we don't spend much time, because we don't consider it important. Or even worse, sometimes we do it incorrectly.

Instead of analyzing the emotion we feel, it is more cathartic to hide it. An example is to eat to relieve anxiety or discomfort or play video games so as not to think about what hurts us, what worries us.

In this way, we gradually move away from our emotional universe. Too often, people prefer to neglect their emotions rather than face what they want to tell us.

Therefore, it is important to consider a small detail. High self-awareness is an indicator of psychological well-being. It means understanding what happens inside of you and is an extraordinary skill of emotional intelligence.

Likewise, whoever enters this dimension is also capable of understanding the emotions of others.

Emotional self-awareness requires constant work. It is a conscious choice that brings to light what is hidden inside you.

What is emotional self-awareness for?

What we hear affects our way of thinking and causes us to behave in a certain way. With this simple rule clear, we can deduce what it means not to connect, understand or dominate every emotion that controls us in every circumstance.

Without emotional self-awareness, we often act out of mere impulse, which in turn leads us to engage in clearly maladaptive behaviors.

In the social sciences, self-awareness is a psychological variable of great importance for mental health and for our daily performance. Research such as those carried out by the Universities of Southern California and Hamburg in Germany argue that self-awareness is the ability to recognize one's own existence.

Without it we would not be able to reflect on ourselves, on our decisions, on relationships and on the way we understand the world. For this reason it is also decisive that this dimension integrates the emotional aspect.

As Daniel Goleman points out, it appears that this area is the least visible within the theory of emotional intelligence, yet it is decisive. Let's try to understand why.

The need to stop operating in "autopilot" mode

Emotional self-awareness is crucial for having greater self-control over what we think, decide and do. In the event that adequate control is not exercised over this area, it will operate in "autopilot" mode.

In other words, we will let ourselves be carried away by everyday events without knowing how to act in front of them. We will also limit ourselves to being a slave to our emotions, frustration, anger or sadness, without knowing how to regulate them.

Emotional self-awareness: mastering emotions to get what you want

Without emotional self-awareness we let ourselves be carried away by stress, anxiety, anguish, constant worry. When the mind wanders erratically and remains anchored in those emotional states, it is difficult to achieve anything.

Without emotional self-control, there is no behavioral self-control, we are lacking in motivation and fail to direct our orientation towards success.

The moment we come into contact with what happens inside us, we take care of ourselves adequately to regulate what we feel.

Thus, the person who has a good command of their emotional self-awareness can guide their emotions and thoughts towards the goals they set for themselves.

Internal and external emotional self-awareness to relate better and increase self-esteem

Research conducted at the IE University of Madrid decided to evaluate the benefits of developing emotional self-awareness skills in students. The results showed that in this way it is possible to focus on achieving the objectives, as we have already pointed out.

This dimension favors a better understanding of one's inner emotional states, which helps us improve relationships with others. External self-awareness is what allows us to connect with the realities of others and act in harmony.

Likewise, we have been able to work creatively and productively, both individually and in groups, feeling proud of ourselves and increasing self-esteem (Silvia and O'Brien, 2004).

Emotional self-awareness is one of the 5 pillars of emotional intelligence, along with self-regulation, empathy and social skills.

How to improve this competence?

Emotional self-awareness is not achieved by doing yoga or meditation. We need stronger approaches to engage with on a daily basis.

It is an exercise in constant dialogue with ourselves, which pushes us to monitor ourselves, to know and control ourselves. The following strategies can be helpful:

  • Connecting with each emotion felt, giving it space, recognizing it and wondering why it is there.
  • Becoming aware of how emotions affect our life, our reactions and decisions. We imagine it is a good time to make a change, to control and transform those emotional states in a way that favors us in our daily life.
  • Clarify what our values, goals and meanings are. Are we in harmony with them? Are we acting according to certain principles or is it worth the effort to improve some aspects?
  • Learning to connect with the emotional realities of others to act in harmony, with respect, with assertiveness.


It is time to develop this psychological competence to the fullest. Being emotionally aware improves our social and mental well-being and makes us more competent, making us feel fulfilled.

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