In the world of wellness, there are many terms that sound very similar but that have subtle yet significant differences. For example, is self-reflection the same as self-awareness? The answer is, they are certainly similar, however, one is a state of being aware, the other is looking inside yourself, through self-reflection.

Therefore, self-reflection and self-awareness are very closely related and are certainly very similar, but they aren’t exactly the same.

Simplistically, if you think you know who you are, behaviorally and emotionally, you’re exhibiting self-awareness. If you can look at yourself, your behaviors and your actions, you are exhibiting self-reflection.

To understand how they are different, a greater understanding of each may be necessary to establish first.

Self-Awareness – Being Aware of ‘You’

The dictionary says, “Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.”

Self-awareness is being aware of yourself. On a very personal level, everyone should know who they are and what they need, but unfortunately many of us don’t. It would be great if we all did.

The truth is that we often lack self-awareness, rather we are more aware of what other people think of us. Our understanding of ourselves is usually based on what other people say to us, and how they treat us personally.

More systematic external forces, like the media that we actively consume, and the advertising that actively consumes us, can also distort our understanding of ourselves.

If you judge yourself solely based on what your parents or your coworkers think of you, or the price of your shampoo, or whether you look like the lead in your favorite drama program, you’re not genuinely self-aware.

You may think you know all about you, but unless you take the time to get to truly know yourself, all of these things are simply the reflections of the world around you, not reflections of who you are.

Self-Reflection – The ‘Activity’ of Thinking About All Your Life

The dictionary says, “Self-reflection is the activity of thinking about your own feelings and behavior, and the reasons that may lie behind them.”

So, self-awareness is a state. Self-reflection is an action. Self-reflection is also how you can reset or modify your self-awareness to improve your emotional wellbeing.

After enough time in active self-reflection, you will start to be able to monitor your thoughts and actions more effectively in more natural environments. This is true self-awareness, achieved through diligent self-reflection.

Here’s a question to ask yourself. Have you ever looked back at your actions or dealings with someone and regret the way you behaved? Perhaps you mistreated someone due to anger, or ignored a person, when you should have given them some of your time. This is all self-reflection. You are looking back and ‘reflecting’ on your past actions.

Now it’s time for you to become more self-aware!

The goal of both is to make sure that you understand your own goals and needs rather than having these goals and needs formed for you by external forces.