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Reflection Toolkit

Reflecting for self-awareness

A collection of reflective activities and questions for developing self-awareness .

This page covers:

Self-awareness: learning about yourself to improve

  • Some traits are stable, others change frequently
  • Challenging your answers to remain reflective
  • Links to example activities and approaches for self-awareness

The purpose of reflection is to improve practice and become informed in our decisions. Generally, we want to become more able and effective in what we are doing. A lot of reflection is done to make more sense of particular experiences – critical experiences, disorienting dilemmas – however reflection can also start with the want to develop better understanding of ourselves.

This doesn’t necessarily have to start with an experience, but rather a reflective question. To answer this type of question, we will often use experiences as evidence or support.

By learning about ourselves, our motives, and our assumptions, we can develop a toolkit of knowledge and abilities that we can draw on to help ourselves preform to the best of our ability.

Some traits remain stable, others change frequently

Aspects of ourselves like strengths, weaknesses, and values often tend to be fairly consistent over time. That said, they do change naturally and, of course, with awareness we can start consciously targeting these elements, for example by building reflective habits and goals. However, sometimes we might also want to be aware of things that vary faster such as our mood, or how we feel about something particular.

The questions and activities you can access from this page will help with awareness of both more stable traits such as strengths and weaknesses, and traits that vary more rapidly.  They include simple check-in questions we can ask ourselves in the moment, and get us to think slightly differently about a problem.

Challenge your answers to remain reflective

One very important aspect of these types of activities and questions is that they lend themselves well to reflection, but don’t necessarily require a reflective approach. Therefore, to remain reflective it is important that you challenge your initial instincts and look for evidence – ask yourself ‘How do I know?’ and ‘Why?’ regularly.

Example activities and approaches for self-awareness

There are many ways to build self-awareness.  The activities and questions available below are not exhaustive, but give you a place to start when trying to increase your self-awareness.

Strengths and weaknesses

Goal setting, writing letters to your future and past selves, items for self-awareness.

Gregg Henriques Ph.D.

Self-Reflective Awareness: A Crucial Life Skill

This post defines self-reflective awareness and identifies its key domains..

Posted September 10, 2016 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

  • Self-Reflective Awareness (SRA) involves thinking about and reflecting on one’s own mental processes.
  • Self-reflection and engaging in "process" conversations with others help to cultivate SRA.
  • There are eight key domains to SRA, including knowing your history as well as your needs, motivations, and emotions.

Self-Reflective Awareness (SRA) is probably the single most important competency that we teach in the doctoral program in professional psychology that I direct . It is listed first in the program’s core competencies and is central to the identity and culture of the program. Because we believe it is a very important skill in general, and it is something our program gets extremely high marks on (students rate their training a 4.8 out of 5.0 in this area), I share here how we define it and some of the ways we cultivate it in the program in order to offer ideas about how one might achieve greater SRA.

What Is Self-Reflective Awareness?

SRA is a “meta-cognitive” ability, meaning that it involves thinking about and reflecting on one’s own mental processes. Someone with good SRA is able to generate a narrative of self that is complex, clear, and multifaceted and is able to communicate that narrative in a way that allows others a much better understanding of where one is coming from. Let me give an example of a low versus high SRA response. Imagine a situation in which a doctoral student is working with a patient and I am the supervisor. We are watching some tape of the session, and it is a bit awkward and halting.

I say, “I noticed that the two of you lost some flow in the therapy here. You seem kind of awkward and hesitant. Can you tell me what was going on inside for you?”

A low SRA response might be something like:

“The patient is really resistant about deepening the conversation on this topic. I tried to do what you said, but they blocked me at every turn. So, I just was not sure about next steps.”

In contrast, a high SRA response would be something like:

“I know that this was not the best exchange and you are right I was feeling both stuck and frustrated. I tried to bring up the topic in the way you suggested, but I did not have the concept exactly right and I bundled it. I then felt a bit self-conscious, thinking about you watching it. As I thought about that, it was hard for me to know where to go next, so I just sort of sat there awkwardly. I think sometimes I feel stuck between you guiding me toward how the patient might change and my patient telling me they are not ready or that won’t work and that can leave me feeling a bit powerless and frustrated.”

Notice the difference in the two responses. Even though the question asked for the individual to explore what was “going on inside," the low SRA example basically offers none of that, reports simply on the behaviors, and explains why the individual did what they did focused on external obstacles with no real narrative of their private or emotional experience. In contrast, the high SRA response shows the person’s deep capacity to take an observer stance and to share the internal struggles and reactions they were having, and how that made them feel.

How Does One Cultivate SRA?

The first step to cultivating SRA is knowing what it is and explicitly valuing it. Once it is explicitly valued, there are several ways one can foster it. Introspection, that is, turning the focus of your attention inward and engaging in an attitude of curiosity about what makes you tick, is one key way to foster SRA. We explicitly encourage a mindful approach to meta-cognition that is captured by the acronym C.A.L.M. which attempts to capture the attitude of the meta-cognitive observer as being Curious, Accepting, Loving/Compassionate, and Motivated to Learn and Grow .

Education about psychological theories and processes, such as understanding human consciousness and human social motivation , provides conceptual maps that can help foster SRA in folks. Engaging in psychotherapy is another way to enhance SRA, and we encourage our doctoral students to have at least one meaningful therapy experience (in which they are the client) prior to becoming a fully functioning psychologist.

Another way is to engage in “process” conversations with intimate others. Most human conversations focus on content (the "what" that is being discussed). A process conversation is when you explore with another the “how," especially how you experience the process of relating to them and how they experience relating to you. For example, a process conversation might recall a time two people worked together and shared the way they felt (competitive, jealous , stressed ) in the context of getting the job done.

In our doctoral program, students engage in at least one formal process group, and we also regularly participate in process groups involving diverse individuals on conversations such as gender , race, ethnicity , and power.

What Are the Domains of SRA?

There are a number of different facets to SRA. Here are eight key domains we focus on and areas of SRA capacities we expect to see and some of the additional ways we train them.

self awareness reflective essay

  • Know your family story and developmental history. To know thyself one must understand one’s history, including the context in which one was raised and key life events or turning points. In a required family class, taught by core faculty member Dr. Anne Stewart, our students complete a large family project in which they develop an autobiographical narrative of their place in their family. This involves the students creating a genogram and interviewing key players in the family drama (parents, siblings, grandparents) and writing it up in a detailed narrative, all to get a deeper understanding of the culture of the home in which they grew up and the way that impacted who they have become.
  • Understand your needs, motivations, and emotions. Humans have intense social drives for things like intimacy and belonging and achievement and power. We also have deep-seated feelings about ourselves and others and key events. But often we do not spend time deeply experiencing or observing these aspects of our mental process. Attention to core motives and feeling states is crucial. Dr. Ken Critchfield is the co-director of our program and he helps folks understand their core attachment needs and how early patterns of attachment set the stage for current relating patterns.
  • Understand your defenses and how you handle criticism. The defensive system gets activated when our identity is threatened or we are exposed to painful pieces of information about ourselves. Being aware of what makes you defensive and the kinds of defensive coping strategies you use is a key component. I often talk about the “Freudian Filter” and the Malan Triangle , which helps students see how impulses or images or feelings can trigger an anxiety signal and then activate a defense, often by shifting attention away from the image.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses. As part of their regular evaluation process, the student must narrate their experiences over the year and articulate both areas in which they have excelled and various “growth edges” where they want to improve. We have also explored having students participate in a strength finder assessment, but have not done that.
  • Understand your beliefs/values and worldview. Core faculty Dr. Craig Shealy is an expert in beliefs and values and he guides students regularly on deep conversations about what beliefs and values are, where they come from, how they are shaped, and how we respond when confronted with others who have very different beliefs and values (i.e., are we open or closed and defensive?). Students need to reflect on their religious beliefs, their views regarding the nature of being human, and their political beliefs in terms of the role of the government and their social values. We help students understand their beliefs and values in terms of their Versions of Reality (VOR).
  • Know your purpose in life and how you make meaning. Related to both one’s beliefs and values and core motives is the recognition of what gives one’s life meaning and purpose. Students must reflect on why they are pursuing a doctoral degree, what are their “valued states of being,” and what kind of difference they want to make in the world.
  • Know how others see you. In his Processes of Psychotherapy course, Dr. Neal Rittenhouse spends much time helping students reflect on how others see them. He asks them to reflect on their “stimulus value” and has them imagine how and why someone might feel about them in good or bad ways, and in or outside the therapy room.
  • Know the “cultural bubble” that you live in. Students in our program must demonstrate cultural awareness and understand diverse perspectives. To foster this, our program frequently has conversation sessions focused on sensitive cultural issues. For example, over the past few years, the United States has witnessed increased tensions with Russia. We are fortunate to have Dr. Elena Savina on our core faculty, who is from Russia. She is concerned about the portrayal of Russia in the West and has much to say about this. We had a two-hour conversation in which the whole program listened to Elena’s Version of Reality, and why it was so strikingly different than what is portrayed in mainstream Western media.

More than two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks carved “Know Thyself” above the entrance to the Apollo Temple at Delphi. We concur with this central maxim and believe SRA is a crucial capacity that is necessary for living a fulfilling, complex, and wise life. It is a basic capacity that should be fostered in relationships, in education in general, and in professional psychology in particular.

Gregg Henriques Ph.D.

Gregg Henriques, Ph.D. , is a professor of psychology at James Madison University.

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What Is Self-Awareness?

Development, Types, and How to Improve

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

self awareness reflective essay

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

self awareness reflective essay

  • Development
  • How to Improve


Frequently asked questions.

Self-awareness is your ability to perceive and understand the things that make you who you are as an individual, including your personality, actions, values, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts. Essentially, it is a psychological state in which the self becomes the focus of  attention .

While self-awareness is central to who you are, it is not something you are acutely focused on at every moment of every day. Instead, self-awareness becomes woven into the fabric of who you are and emerges at different points depending on the situation and your personality .​

It is one of the first components of the  self-concept  to emerge. People are not born completely self-aware. Yet evidence suggests that infants do have a rudimentary sense of self-awareness.

Infants possess the awareness that they are separate beings from others, which is evidenced by behaviors such as the rooting reflex in which an infant searches for a nipple when something brushes against their face. Researchers have also found that even newborns are able to differentiate between self- and non-self touch.

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Self-Awareness Development

Studies have demonstrated that a more complex sense of self-awareness emerges around one year of age and becomes much more developed by approximately 18 months of age. Researchers Lewis and Brooks-Gunn performed studies looking at how self-awareness develops.

The researchers applied a red dot to an infant's nose and then held the child up to a mirror. Children who recognized themselves in the mirror would reach for their own noses rather than the reflection in the mirror, which indicated that they had at least some level of self-awareness.

Lewis and Brooks-Gunn found that almost no children under one year of age would reach for their own nose rather than the reflection in the mirror.

About 25% of the infants between 15 and 18 months reached for their own noses while about 70% of those between 21 and 24 months did so.

It is important to note that the Lewis and Brooks-Gunn study only indicates an infant's visual self-awareness; children might actually possess other forms of self-awareness even at this early point in life. For example, researchers Lewis, Sullivan, Stanger, and Weiss suggested that  expressing emotions  involves self-awareness as well as an ability to think about oneself in relation to other people.

Researchers have proposed that an area of the brain known as the anterior cingulate cortex located in the frontal lobe region plays an important role in developing self-awareness. Studies have also used brain imaging to show that this region becomes activated in adults who are self-aware.

The Lewis and Brooks-Gunn experiment suggests that self-awareness begins to emerge in children around the age of 18 months, an age that coincides with the rapid growth of spindle cells in the anterior cingulate cortex.

However, one study found that a patient retained self-awareness even with extensive damage to areas of the brain including the insula and the anterior cingulate cortex.

This suggests that these areas of the brain are not required for most aspects of self-awareness and that awareness may instead arise from interactions distributed among brain networks.

Levels of Self-Awareness

So how exactly do children become aware of themselves as separate beings? One major theory of self-awareness, introduced by developmental psychologist Philippe Rochat, suggests that there are five levels of self-awareness. Children progress through these stages between birth and approximately age 4 or 5:

  • Differentiation : A baby begins to acknowledge their own reflection. They may detect there is something different or special about looking at their reflection.
  • Situation : A baby begins to recognize their own reflection, being, and movements as separate from those around them.
  • Identification : This is the stage during which a child fully knows that it is their own reflection in a mirror. They know, "This is me ."
  • Permanence : They have a complete sense of themselves and can identify themselves in pictures or videos, even as their appearance changes.
  • Self-consciousness : A child adapts a third-person point of view of themselves; they become aware of the idea that others perceive them in certain ways. This may result in feelings such as pride or shame.

Types of Self-Awareness

Psychologists often break self-awareness down into two different types, either public or private.

Public Self-Awareness

This type emerges when people are aware of how they appear to others. Public self-awareness typically emerges in situations when people are at the center of attention.

This type of self-awareness often compels people to adhere to social norms . When we are aware that we are being watched and evaluated, we often try to behave in ways that are socially acceptable and desirable.

Public self-awareness can also lead to evaluation anxiety in which people become distressed, anxious, or worried about how they are perceived by others.

Public Self-Awareness Examples

You may experience public self-awareness in the workplace, when you're giving a big presentation. Or, you may experience it when telling a story to a group of friends.

Private Self-Awareness

This type happens when people become aware of some aspects of themselves, but only in a private way. For example, seeing your face in the mirror is a type of private self-awareness.

Private Self-Awareness Examples

Feeling your stomach lurch when you realize you forgot to study for an important test or feeling your heart flutter when you see someone you are attracted to are also examples of private self-awareness.

How to Improve Your Self-Awareness

So how do you grow self-awareness? There are many ways you can practice being present with yourself and your emotions, which, in turn, can help improve your self-awareness.

Meditation can be an especially useful practice because you don't have to worry about changing anything—simply noticing what happens during a meditation can bring greater awareness of your thoughts and feelings.

Maybe you notice that you hold tension in your body by clenching your jaw, for instance, or that you tend to worry so much about the future that it's hard to be in the present moment. This is all valuable information that can help you get to know yourself and your tendencies.

Journaling is a practice in self-reflection that can help you notice the ways in which you tend to think and behave, and even which areas in your life you may wish to improve. It can be a therapeutic way to gain insight into your life events and relationships.

Talk Therapy

During therapy—such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—a therapist works with you to address negative thought patterns or behaviors.

By understanding the underlying cause of your negative thoughts, for instance, you're in a more advantageous position to change them and use healthy coping mechanisms instead.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

Self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ) go hand in hand. EQ refers to a person's ability to perceive their own emotions as well as the emotions of other people. Someone with a high EQ is able to effectively respond to emotions with empathy and compassion.

Of course, no one is perfect, and EQ is a skill like any other. But by learning to express your own emotions in a healthy way, and practicing active listening in your relationships, you're contributing to the expansion of your own self-awareness as well.

Sometimes, people can become overly self-aware and veer into what is known as self-consciousness. Have you ever felt like everyone was watching you, judging your actions, and waiting to see what you will do next? This heightened state of self-awareness can leave you feeling awkward and nervous in some instances.

In a lot of cases, these feelings of self-consciousness are only temporary and arise in situations when we are "in the spotlight." For some people, however, excessive self-consciousness can reflect a chronic condition such as social anxiety disorder .

While self-awareness plays a critical role in how we understand ourselves and how we relate to others and the world, excessive self-consciousness can result in challenges such as anxiety and stress .

If you struggle with self-consciousness, discuss your symptoms with a doctor or mental health professional to learn more about what you can do to cope with these feelings.

Being self-aware is all about having an understanding of your own thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs, and actions. It means that you understand who you are, what you want, how you feel, and why you do the things that you do.

There are many different ways to think about self-awareness, but four keys that are often mentioned included mindfulness, self-compassion, reflection, and feedback.

Mindfulness allows people to become more aware of themselves in the present, while compassion allows them to do so without passing judgment on themselves. Reflection and feedback allow people to take what they have learned and improve themselves in order to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

The five elements of self-awarenesses are:

  • Consciousness : This means being aware of your internal experiences, including your emotions and thoughts.
  • Self-knowledge : This element is focused on your understanding of who you are, including your beliefs, values, and motivations.
  • Emotional intelligence : This element is focused on the ability to understand and manage emotions.
  • Self-acceptance : This aspect is centered on accepting who you are and showing yourself compassion and kindness.
  • Self-reflection : This element of self-awareness involves being able to think deeply about your feelings, thoughts, and goals in order to gain an even better understanding of who you are and your place in the world.

Rochat, P. Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold early in life . Consciousness and Cognition . 2003;12(4):717-31. doi:10.1016/S1053-8100(03)00081-3

Brooks-Gunn J, Lewis M. The development of early visual self-recognition . Dev Review . 1984;4(3):215-39. doi:10.1016/S0273-2297(84)80006-4

Moeller SJ, Goldstein RZ. Impaired self-awareness in human addiction: deficient attribution of personal relevance . Trends Cogn Sci (Regul Ed). 2014;18(12):635-41. PMID: 25278368

Philippi CL, Feinstein JS, Khalsa SS, et al. Preserved self-awareness following extensive bilateral brain damage to the insula, anterior cingulate, and medial prefrontal cortices . PLoS ONE. 2012;7(8):e38413. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038413

Sutton A. Measuring the effects of self-awareness: Construction of the self-awareness outcomes questionnaire .  Eur J Psychol . 2016;12(4):645-658. doi:10.5964/ejop.v12i4.1178

Xiao Q, Yue C, He W, Yu JY. The mindful self: A mindfulness-enlightened self-view .  Front Psychol . 2017;8:1752. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01752

Snyder, M. Journaling. R. Lindquist, M. Snyder, & M. F. Tracy (Eds.). In:  Complementary and alternative therapies in nursing . Springer Publishing Company; 2014.

Nakao M, Shirotsuki K, Sugaya N. Cognitive–behavioral therapy for management of mental health and stress-related disorders: Recent advances in techniques and technologies . BioPsychoSocial Med. 2021;15(1). doi:10.1186/s13030-021-00219-w

Serrat O. Understanding and developing emotional intelligence . Knowledge Solutions. 2017:329-339. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-0983-9_37

Dasilveira A, Desouza ML, Gomes WB. Self-consciousness concept and assessment in self-report measures . Front Psychol . 2015;6:930. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00930

Stein DJ. Social anxiety disorder and the psychobiology of self-consciousness .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2015;9:489. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00489

  • Crisp, R. J. & Turner, R. N. Essential social psychology. London: Sage Publications; 2010.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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How to Write a Reflective Essay

Lindsay Kramer

You’re probably used to responding to different sources in essays. For example, in an academic essay, you might compare two books’ themes, argue for or against a position, analyze a piece of literature, or persuade the reader with facts and statistics.

In one way, a reflective essay is similar to an academic essay. Like an academic essay, a reflective essay can discuss ideas and concepts from books, literature, essays, or articles. However, unlike an academic essay, it focuses on how your personal experience relates to these things.

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What is a reflective essay?

Reflective essays are a type of personal essay in which the writer examines a topic through the lens of their unique perspective. Reflective essays are more subjective about their subjects than an academic essay, use figurative language, and don’t require academic sources. The purpose of a reflective essay is to explore and share the author’s thoughts, perspectives, and experiences.

Reflective essays are often written for college applications and cover letters as a way for the writer to discuss their background and demonstrate how these experiences shaped them into an ideal candidate. For example, a college applicant might write a reflective essay about how moving every few years because of their parent’s military service impacted their concept of home.

Sometimes, reflective essays are academic assignments. For example, a student may be assigned to watch a film or visit a museum exhibition and write a reflective essay about the film or exhibition’s themes. Reflective essays can also be pieces of personal writing, such as blog posts or journal entries.

Reflective essay vs. narrative essay

There are a few similarities between reflective essays and narrative essays. Both are personal pieces of writing in which the author explores their thoughts about their experiences. But here’s the main difference: While a narrative essay focuses on a story about events in the author’s life, a reflective essay focuses on the changes the author underwent because of those events. A narrative essay has many of the same elements as a fictional story: setting, characters, plot, and conflict. A reflective essay gets granular about the circumstances and changes driven by the conflict and doesn’t necessarily aim to tell a full story.

Reflective essays based on academic material

You might be assigned to write a reflective essay on an academic text, such as an essay, a book, or an article. Unlike a reflective essay about your own personal experiences, this type of reflective essay involves analysis and interpretation of the material. However, unlike in an analytical essay , the position you support is informed by your own opinion and perspective rather than solely by the text.

How to choose a topic

A reflective essay can be about any topic. By definition, a reflective essay is an essay where the writer describes an event or experience (or series of events or experiences) and then discusses and analyzes the lessons they derived from their experience. This experience can be about anything , whether big life events like moving to a new country or smaller experiences like trying sushi for the first time. The topic can be serious, lighthearted, poignant, or simply entertaining.

If your reflective essay is for an assignment or an application, you might be given a topic. In some cases, you might be given a broad area or keyword and then have to develop your own topic related to those things. In other cases, you might not be given anything. No matter which is the case for your essay, there are a few ways to explore reflective essay ideas and develop your topic.

Freewriting is a writing exercise where you simply write whatever comes to mind for a fixed period of time without worrying about grammar or structure or even writing something coherent. The goal is to get your ideas onto paper and explore them creatively, and by removing the pressure to write something submittable, you’re giving yourself more room to play with these ideas.

Make a mind map

A mind map is a diagram that shows the relationships between ideas, events, and other words related to one central concept. For example, a mind map for the word book might branch into the following words: fiction , nonfiction , digital , hardcover . Each of these words then branches to subtopics. These subtopics further branch to subtopics of their own, demonstrating just how deep you can explore a subject.

Creating a mind map can be a helpful way to explore your thoughts and feelings about the experience you discuss in your essay.

Real-life experiences

You can find inspiration for a reflective essay from any part of your life. Think about an experience that shifted your worldview or dramatically changed your daily routine. Or you can focus on the smaller, even mundane, parts of life like your weekly cleaning routine or trips to the grocery store. In a reflective essay, you don’t just describe experiences; you explore how they shape you and your feelings.

Reflective essay outline


A reflective essay’s introduction paragraph needs to include:

  • A thesis statement

The hook is the sentence that catches the reader’s attention and makes them want to read more. This can be an unexpected fact, an intriguing statistic, a left-field observation, or a question that gets the reader’s mind thinking about the essay’s topic.

The thesis statement is a concise statement that introduces the reader to the essay’s topic . A thesis statement clearly spells out the topic and gives the reader context for the rest of the essay they’re about to read.

These aren’t all the things that a reflective essay’s introduction needs, however. This paragraph needs to effectively introduce the topic, which often means introducing a few of the ideas discussed in the essay’s body paragraphs alongside the hook and thesis statement.

Body paragraphs

Your essay’s body paragraphs are where you actually explore the experience you’re reflecting on. You might compare experiences, describe scenes and your emotions following them, recount interactions, and contrast it with any expectations you had beforehand.

Unless you’re writing for a specific assignment, there’s no required number of body paragraphs for your reflective essay. Generally, authors write three body paragraphs, but if your essay needs only two—or it needs four or five—to fully communicate your experience and reflection, that’s perfectly fine.

In the final section, tie up any loose ends from the essay’s body paragraphs. Mention your thesis statement in the conclusion, either by restating it or paraphrasing it. Give the reader a sense of completion by including a final thought or two. However, these thoughts should reflect statements you made in the body paragraphs rather than introduce anything new to the essay. Your conclusion should also clearly share how the experience or events you discussed affected you (and, if applicable, continue to do so).

6 tips for writing a reflective essay

1 choose a tone.

Before you begin to write your reflective essay, choose a tone . Because a reflective essay is more personal than an academic essay, you don’t need to use a strict, formal tone. You can also use personal pronouns like I and me in your essay because this essay is about your personal experiences.

2 Be mindful of length

Generally, five hundred to one thousand words is an appropriate length for a reflective essay. If it’s a personal piece, it may be longer.

You might be required to keep your essay within a general word count if it’s an assignment or part of an application. When this is the case, be mindful to stick to the word count—writing too little or too much can have a negative impact on your grade or your candidacy.

3 Stay on topic

A reflective essay reflects on a single topic. Whether that topic is a one-off event or a recurring experience in your life, it’s important to keep your writing focused on that topic.

4 Be clear and concise

In a reflective essay, introspection and vivid imagery are assets. However, the essay’s language should remain concise , and its structure should follow a logical narrative.

5 Stay professional

Although you aren’t bound to a formal tone, it’s generally best to use a professional tone in your reflective writing. Avoid using slang or overly familiar language, especially if your reflective essay is part of a college or job application .

6 Proofread

Before you hit “send” or “submit,” be sure to proofread your work. For this last read-through, you should be focused on catching any spelling or grammatical mistakes you might have missed.

Reflective essay FAQs

Reflective essays are a type of personal essay that examines a topic through the lens of thewriter’s unique perspective. They are more subjective about their subjects than an academic essay, use figurative language, and don’t require academic sources.

What’s the difference between a reflective essay and a narrative essay?

While a reflective essay focuses on its author’s feelings and perspectives surrounding events they’ve experienced or texts they’ve read, a narrative essay tells a story. A narrative essay might show changes the author underwent through the same conventions a fictional story uses to show character growth; a reflective essay discusses this growth more explicitly and explores it in depth.

What are example topics for a reflective essay?

  • Moving abroad and adapting to the local culture
  • Recovering from an athletic injury
  • Weekly phone conversations with your grandmother
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self awareness reflective essay

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Self-Awareness Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Time , Knowledge , Communication , Belief , Development , Behavior , Life , Awareness

Words: 1600

Published: 03/10/2020


Introduction to Self-Awareness

This paper aims to discuss the aspects about the concept of self-awareness. Self-awareness is an important subject and aspect that is associated to our lives and we all have to concentrate on our actions, behaviors and beliefs from time to time. It is important to concentrate on the agreements and commitments that one makes with oneself (Heatherton & Baumeister, 1991).

Such agreements or self-concentration helps us to set the achievable goals in our lives and, in these agreements, we try to concentrate on our abilities, desires and our behaviors. Everyone has a different sort of thinking, a unique belief set and behavior related to its practical approach to deal with the matters of life.

Many times, we think about where we stand in our lives, and where we want to stand in our lives. There is a gap that needs to be fulfilled within a due course of time. Such goals are our career and professional goals, which need to be completed in one or the other way around. We accordingly, try to concentrate on the things that we do or we do not do. We may find things that we intend to do and, sometimes, we find things that seem to be as fantasies or that are not doable in real time.

Important Aspects and Features of Self-Awareness

First of all, we can consider the aspects related to the values that are naturally stable characteristics of any individual. The values contribute to greater extent in setting the attitudes and prioritization of our lives. We look at our surroundings and society for determination of the social and cultural values. We feel a lot of concerned about the cultural and social values practiced by the people living around us. As a child, we learn to adopt these cultural values right from the stage of our childhood. The religion, society and culture plays a vital role in the value determination (Joinson, 2001). We have to follow the trend that is set by our ancestors and the forefathers despite of the fact that we disagree with them. Sometimes, we start feeling that we are acting as a part of someone else, whereas in actuality, our way of responding to the events and behavior follows a completely different approach.

For instance, my ancestors have been practicing a particular religion or faith and it is obvious that they were following the norms and values of that religion. I have been close to my grand-father since my childhood and noticing his actions as he met with the people. I have learned the social values regarding how to live within a given society. I also learnt, how to interact with the people by seeing at the actions of my grandfather. I have adapted all the beliefs and thoughts that are inherited by my fore-fathers and ancestors. It seems to me as a natural tendency found amongst all the human beings. The values inherited from the ancestors or society by a human being becomes adaptable naturally due to many reasons.

But, it is not essential that we become satisfied with the concept and theory related to it. At any stage of our lives, we can think about the flaws or the inconsistencies that exist in the matter of understanding with regards to our belief, existing systems, and values. This is the time to concentrate on the shortcomings and limitations that we consider about the belief system.

However, it is a fact that, I was not able to express this difference of opinion in front of my elders or openly in front of the society. Self-expression is something, that every person must exercise as a human being. The freedom of expression is a universal right for all the human beings in this world. But, we see that in practice, the elders do not find it worthy to listen to the difference of opinion or any criticism about the conventional value system.

The second thing, that is important, to discuss in the context of self-awareness is the interpersonal style or communication tactics that we usually adopt during interaction with others. It is one of the important aspects that is related to the self-awareness and self-confidence of an individual (Carlopio & Andrewartha, 2012).

Such an aspect deals with our probabilities to lead and communicate others in various matters of our lives. We usually adopt this from with our closed ones or relatives, such as our mentors, teachers, parents and our friends. We closely watch that how they interact with the other people and what style they adopt during the conversation with the others. As a child, we use to follow the actions and words of our elders, which is again a part of natural learning and self-awareness. The interpersonal skills developed during the childhood continue to enact during the later time of our lives.

As a child, I have also tried to follow my ancestors’ style of communicating with others and developed the interpersonal style of dealing with others. It is the conventional way, and as the time passed on, I also tried to learn from the teachers and other elders. The schooling era of my life provided me with a lot of opportunities to interact with other individuals and learn the real application of communication skills. This particular time provided me with the convenience of opportunities to look into the techniques and ways related to the interpersonal communication. I have also gained adequate level of confidence as the time passed on during my tenure at the school. I have learnt various ways of communication and interaction with my colleagues.

Why Self-Awareness is so Valuable

Regards to the self-awareness involves the development of a individual’s behavior. The individual’s behavior is dependent upon the previous factor that is cultural and social norms developed as per our living in a particular society. Naturally, we become familiar with the things and events that are going on around us and develop a particular way to respond to the situation that is evolved. Our behaviors are developed on seeing the cultural values and norms practiced among the people around us. For example, I have developed my behavior based upon the facts that I saw in the personality of my elders and teachers. The school was also one of the important places where I have learnt about the development of behavior and I witnessed certain ways to express it. This part of my life that I have spent in the school involves learning some of the key features related to the self-awareness.

I have watched closely how the seniors and other colleagues behave and interact with the evolving situation. The religious and cultural values have played an important role in shaping my behaviors, attitudes, and approaches in my life.

Although, I have felt that there were many things going on in the society that can be considered as unacceptable or at least I can show my indifference with them. But, I discarded this thought of expressing the indifference as I knew that the practice of showing acceptability to the indifferences and criticism is not favored among the people.

Self-awareness is an important aspect of our life that helps us to explore things and matters about ourselves (Cherniss, 2000). This is considered as a continued process throughout our life and we usually learn as the life goes on. Self-awareness is important for everyone who is interested in becoming a successful human-being. There are certain features and aspects that are associated with the self-awareness and self-consciousness. It requires a continuous self-evaluation and self-analysis performed by us on a continuous basis. The cultural values, social norms and learning of our behaviors based upon seeing others that are close to us play a vital role in the development of our personality (Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Action Plan

- Phase 1: I need to focus on continuously working for the betterment of my ability to improve and excel with the adequate advancements in my knowledge. - Phase 2: I need to follow the commitments that I have made to the people. I need to stricitly follow key agenda on the to-do list. - Phase 3: I need to develop my behavior in accordance with the statements and principled stance. I would like to learn the approaches and theories related to the improvement in self-awareness, and thereby, improving the personality from several perspectives. I would even like to improve the communication skills so as to better understand a scenario in my life. I would even like to learn the conversational approaches so as to enhance my management, leadership, and communicating skills and abilities.

Heatherton, T.F., & Baumeister, R.F., 1991. Binge eating as escape from self-awareness. Psychological bulletin, 110(1), p. 86. Joinson, A.N., 2001. Self‐disclosure in computer‐mediated communication: The role of self‐awareness and visual anonymity. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31(2), p. 177-192. Carlopio, J., & Andrewartha, G., 2012. Developing Management Skills: A comprehensive guide for leaders. Australia: French’s Forest. Cherniss, C., 2000. Emotional Intelligence: What is it and Why it Matters. Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Louisiana, New Orleans. Salovey, P., and Mayer, J., 1990. Emotional Intelligence: Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. Washington DC: American Psychological Association. Seeman, M., 1982. On Personal Consequences of Alienation in Work. American Sociological Review, 32. pp. 273-85.


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61 Self-Awareness Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best self-awareness topic ideas & essay examples, ⭐ good research topics about self-awareness, 👍 simple & easy self-awareness essay titles, 💯 free self-awareness essay topic generator.

  • Evaluating Self Awareness Emotional Intelligence Assessment Comparing the sum of the scores garnered in all the elements with results of typical standard emotional assessment test gives an indication of the measure of the degree of emotional intelligence.
  • The Need to Improve One’s Self-Awareness Personal improvement is needed in this area because of the frequent loss of confidence and self-esteem in the process of acting on my emotions.
  • Self Awareness and Continuous Self Development It should be noted that self awareness can really help me in becoming a better manager because of the several advantages that are associated with it.
  • Self-Awareness and Person-Centered Approach Theory I also realized that I had the capacity to achieve whatever was in my desires. I thought that one day she would come to appreciate the effort I was making in school.
  • Self-Awareness and Personal Development Theories Killen and Smetana lend support to Skinner’s view of the concept of self by analyzing the societal and biological factors in the development of morality as an integral concept of self.
  • Teamwork and Self-Awareness In order for a group of people to effectively collaborate and ensure long-term teamwork on a project, there must be a sense of self-awareness in each member.
  • Developing Self-Awareness: Individual Plan Effective goal setting strategies can solve the problem of the lack of time and improve self-discipline, not to mention the improved organization of the working process.
  • Individual Presentation and Plan: Developing Self-Awareness In addition, the self-awareness will help me in developing and implementing a sound self-improvement program. Self-awareness is critical to me as a manager to help me relate and empathize with my co-workers in the organization.
  • Self-Awareness in Human Interactions To the next respondent, the asset that I am in the group is my non-conventional approach to issues. The respondent also said that I encourage the group members.
  • Self-Awareness Importance in Effective Leadership Training specific skills is one of the conditions that influence the hardness of the character and the ability to realize the set goals.
  • Developing Management Skills: Self-Awareness If one wants to master themselves, it is important that he or she pays attention to self-awareness as self-management and other skills depend on and are closely linked to it.
  • Developing Self-Awareness in Managers To do so, they will conduct a literature review with the aim of understanding self-awareness and its relevance in the field of management. It improves one’s well-being and the ability to communicate in the workplace, […]
  • Self-Awareness of Emma, Huckleberry Finn, and Asher Lev This essay will portray the commonalities in these three novels and try to draw a contrast between them and discuss them in the light of three similar literary tools used, i.e.theme, antagonist, and irony in […]
  • Self-Awareness and Meaningful Living Taylor emphasizes that the difficulty of the task and the amount of time needed to accomplish it are not relevant to the concept of meaninglessness. Therefore, it can be concluded that Taylor is the proponent […]
  • Self-Awareness to Being Watched The researchers used a good hypothesis to conduct the study. The researchers used videotapes in order to change the behaviours of the targeted subjects.
  • Gay Couples as Vulnerable Population and Self-Awareness The idea of same-sex marriages has developed in America to a legal platform. Cultural beliefs that undermine the role of same-sex parenting have an impact on the efficacy of gay couples as parents.
  • Nursing: Self-Awareness to Professional Development The first part of the paper will explain in detail my philosophy of nursing that reflects my life’s values. The second part of the paper includes a poem communicating the reasons behind my nursing career.
  • Intercultural Communication: Self-Awareness’ Importance However, to understand it, a person must be able to connect to the lives of others and to observe these processes in other people.
  • Self‐Awareness in Nursing for Providing Culturally Competent Care Experimental studies show that self-awareness and reflection are essential for the development of competencies related to a cultural approach in nursing. To conclude, the article explores the topic of cultural competence in medicine and its […]
  • Self-Awareness of Nursing Analysis To become a professional nurse, one is to objectively their strengths and weaknesses in terms of providing care and interacting with professionals and patients daily.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Self-Awareness Based on the article, Panayiotou et the aspect of self-awareness in alexithymia and its correlation with social anxiety. The research provides insight into self-awareness and how it influences anxiety.
  • Good Communication Skills and a High Level of Self Awareness
  • People Skills: Self-Awareness as a Critical Skill for Professionals
  • Critically Analyze Why Self-Awareness Is Important in Career Success
  • Lifestyle Inventory and Self Awareness
  • Creativity and Innovation: Develop Self-Awareness and Person
  • Deliverance and Invisible Man: Realization of Self Awareness
  • Critical Thinking, Self-Awareness and Decision Making
  • Prosocial Behavior, Self-Schemas, and Self-Awareness
  • Army Leader Development and Self-Awareness
  • Personal Experience Encourages Self Reflection and Improves Self Awareness
  • Healthy Reflections: The Influence of Mirror-Induced Self-Awareness on Taste Perceptions
  • Ethics, Values and Self Awareness
  • Critical Areas for Self Awareness Psychology
  • Cultural Self Awareness and Cultural Intelligence
  • Communication, Self Awareness, and Communication Skills
  • Management Class and Self-Awareness for Team Membership
  • Family Heritage Foodways and Cultural Self-Awareness
  • Executive Dysfunction and Reduced Self-Awareness in Patients With Neurological Disorders
  • Existential Therapy: Death, Freedom & Self-Awareness
  • Self-Awareness in Status-Seeking Behavior
  • Developing Self-Awareness and Adulthood
  • Know Thyself: Competence and Self-Awareness
  • Links Between Self-Awareness and Experience
  • Analyzing Development Self Awareness of Stress Prone and Stress Resistant Personalities
  • Managing Diversity Through Self-Awareness and Personal Motivation
  • Perspective-Taking, Self-Awareness and Social Cognition in Neurodegenerative Disorders, Cerebral Abnormalities and Acquired Brain Injuries
  • Comparing and Contrasting Self-Awareness in the Classic Literature
  • Five Broad Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning Self-Awareness
  • Self-Awareness Achieved Through the Struggles in and Out of Society
  • Credibility, Self Awareness, Empowerment, and Leadership
  • Adjustment and Self Awareness: A Part of the Military
  • Exploring Self Awareness Leadership and Conflict Management
  • Growing Up: Self-Awareness and Adulthood
  • Self Awareness and Continuous Self Development Education
  • Eating Disorders and Self-Awareness
  • Cultural Self Awareness and Self Developing
  • Exteroceptive and Interoceptive Body-Self Awareness in Fibromyalgia Patients
  • Good Communication Skills Required a High Level of Self Awareness
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IvyPanda. (2023, September 27). 61 Self-Awareness Essay Topic Ideas & Examples.

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Self-Awareness Reflection


Personality disorders are one of the main reasons why we are unhappy. If a person suffers misfortune due to fate, personality flaws are one of the primary ways we experience this misfortune. Furthermore, for those genuinely seeking spiritual growth, a personality disorder can significantly limit their ability to grow in whatever spiritual path they pursue. The purpose of reflection is to improve practice and inform decisions. Self-awareness is recognizing and understanding one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Crane, 2019). It involves awareness of one’s strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs and how they affect behavior and interactions. Self-awareness is essential to personal growth and development because it allows individuals to make informed decisions, manage their emotions effectively, and build strong relationships.

To develop self-awareness, one must engage in self-examination and self-reflection. It involves taking time to examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and think about how they affect your life and the lives of those around you (London,2023). This process is challenging as individuals face uncomfortable truths about themselves and their behavior, but it is an essential step in personal growth and development.

Teamwork is essential to bring together many people with different experiences and knowledge. The presence of teamwork increases the possibility and effectiveness of work. It provides better performance, which leads to better results and weak member performance. Compensation for the performance of others (Skedsmo, 2023). The teamwork process I have mastered starts with setting goals and objectives, building trust among members, and collaborative activities and deadlines. In teamwork, problems, and opportunities constantly arise. Our team started well, but the members underperformed due to much stress. Our team can identify consultative guidance on who should be responsible for specific areas and recommend when those should be released for compilation and editing. After the first two meetings, a team member becomes the team leader. According to studies, productive teams may produce more work, have happier staff members, and get better results overall (Ellis & Sevdalis, 2019).

To be an influential team member, a person must possess specific skills. First, they must have good communication skills. It includes expressing ideas clearly, listening actively to others, and providing constructive feedback. Be open-minded, respect the opinions of others, and be able to compromise when necessary (Skedsmo, 2023). Individuals can handle conflict constructively when disagreements arise while working in a group.

To develop these skills, individuals can participate in activities encouraging teamwork, such as group projects, volunteering at a community organization, or joining a sports team. Additionally, individuals can attend training or workshops on teamwork to learn effective communication: techniques and conflict-resolution strategies.

Teamwork is essential to the workplace, and developing the skills necessary to be an influential team member is critical. By actively communicating, collaborating, and resolving conflict, individuals can become better team players, increase workloads, and improve job satisfaction. It makes one develop great self-confidence and achieve more success in their life.

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle helps reflect on personal experiences and learn from them. In this essay, I will use the reflective cycle to reflect critically on my resilience and how I respond to stressful situations (Roy, R., & Uekusa, 2020).


Resilience refers to adapting and coping with challenging or stressful situations. I have always prided myself on bravery, but recent experiences have made me question my true resilience. I am going through a difficult time in my personal life; it has affected my work and studies, my physical and mental health, and I feel overwhelmed and tired.

At first, I was frustrated and angry that I was not handling stress well. I felt like I had let myself down and was not as resilient as I thought. As time went on, I started to feel overwhelmed. Weak and hopeless. I struggled to find inspiration to do anything and felt stuck.

When I remember how I react to stress, I know that my strength is staying calm under stress, but I also realize that I tend to suppress my emotions and avoid asking for help when I need it. Mental health and I can emphasize it.

After much thought, I realized that my stress response was shaped by my personality and upbringing, coming from a family that valued self-sufficiency and independence and internalized those values. Confidence can be a strength, but it can also be a weakness when it prevents me from seeking help or support.

Action Plan:

To support my personal and professional growth, I plan to implement the following steps:

Create a self-care routine that includes exercise, meditation, and recreation time. Recognize when I am stressed and take steps to reduce it. When I need emotional support, I look to friends and family. Get guidance from a mental health professional to develop more effective coping strategies.

In the future, when I feel stressed, I need to be more proactive in seeking help. Get emotional support from friends and family or seek guidance from a mental health professional. Also, I need to focus more on my studies. I am taking steps to reduce stress in my life, such as self-control, self-care, and time management. By doing this, I can improve my personal and professional development by improving my ability to manage stress and develop resilience and using Gibbs’ reflective loop to delve into my limitations and identify areas for improvement. By implementing my action plan, I believe I can better manage stress and increase my motivation in—my personal and professional life.

Crane, M. F., Searle, B. J., Kangas, M., & Nwiran, Y. (2019). How resilience is strengthened by exposure to stressors: The systematic self-reflection model of resilience strengthening.  Anxiety, Stress, & Coping ,  32 (1), 1-17.

Ellis, G., & Sevdalis, N. (2019). Understanding and improving multidisciplinary team working in geriatric medicine.  Age and Ageing ,  48 (4), 498-505.

London, M., Sessa, V. I., & Shelley, L. A. (2023). Developing self-awareness: Learning processes for self-and interpersonal growth.  Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior ,  pp. 10 , 261–288.

Roy, R., & Uekusa, S. (2020). Collaborative autoethnography: “Self-reflection” as a timely alternative research approach during the global pandemic.  Qualitative Research Journal ,  20 (4), 383-392.

Skedsmo, K., Nes, A. A. G., Stenseth, H. V., Hofsø, K., Larsen, M. H., Hilderson, D., … & Steindal, S. A. (2023). Simulation-based learning in palliative care in postgraduate nursing education: a scoping review.  BMC Palliative Care ,  22 (1), 1-15.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Myself — Self Awareness

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Self Awareness Essays

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self awareness reflective essay


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    Reflection on self awareness and personal growth Reference this Share this: Facebook Twitter Reddit LinkedIn WhatsApp The purpose of this essay is for the trainee Counsellor to critically reflect upon, and evaluate, a recorded counselling session which took place on Thursday 2nd April 2009.

  15. The Meaning and Importance of Self-awareness

    Self-awareness is having a clear view of your identity, including your positive, negatives, thoughts, beliefs, inspiration, and feelings. It also enables you to comprehend other individuals, how they see you, your attitude and your reactions to them at that moment. So the importance of self-awareness is discussed in this essay.

  16. Self Reflection And Self Awareness

    Self Reflection And Self Awareness. Satisfactory Essays. 1484 Words. 6 Pages. Open Document. When I was told I was required to take this course, Women in Leadership, I was very nervous. I was nervous because self-reflection and self-awareness are not something I focus on often. I tend to worry more about others and their happiness and success ...

  17. Self-Awareness Reflective Free Essay Example

    1873 Garfat (1998), describes being self-aware as a constant process, requiring that CYC's are open to checking in, paying attention to what's happening within, and what this might means.

  18. Reflective Essay On Self Awareness

    Reflective Essay On Self Awareness Decent Essays 774 Words 4 Pages Open Document As individuals, we tend to formulate both positive and negative opinions of others based on personal experiences and life exposures. These exposures help shape our belief systems and perceptions towards others.

  19. Essay About Self Awareness

    Essay About Self Awareness. 871 Words4 Pages. Evolve into Having Self-Awareness Being self-aware simply means that you have a keen understanding of your own personality. That includes your positive and negative traits, your thoughts and beliefs, your feelings, and your inspiration. It would be easier for you to understand others when you are ...

  20. Self Awareness

    Self-awareness is having a clear understanding of your personality-- physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual elements. This includes your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, knowledge, experience, skills, feelings, habits, mindsets, feelings, motivations, and views. Self-awareness allows you to comprehend yourself more, how ...

  21. 61 Self-Awareness Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    🏆 Best Self-Awareness Topic Ideas & Essay Examples Evaluating Self Awareness Emotional Intelligence Assessment Comparing the sum of the scores garnered in all the elements with results of typical standard emotional assessment test gives an indication of the measure of the degree of emotional intelligence. The Need to Improve One's Self-Awareness

  22. Self-Awareness Reflection

    Self-Awareness Reflection | Free Essay Examples Home › Social Sciences › Self-Awareness Reflection Self-Awareness Reflection Part I Introduction Personality disorders are one of the main reasons why we are unhappy. If a person suffers misfortune due to fate, personality flaws are one of the primary ways we experience this misfortune.

  23. Self Awareness Essays

    Self-awareness, True Feelings and Wisdom of Gimpel in The Short Story Gimpel The Fool by Isaac B. Singer. 3 pages / 1500 words. Poor Gimpel; everyday life is not easy for the everyday bread maker. Every day he is the target of jokes and pranks from the townspeople, some of which are really cruel. I sympathize with poor Gimpel; I remember how it ...