Questions to raise your self-awareness

May 20, 2015 by Joshua
in Awareness, Models, Tips

Every system of leadership, professional development, and personal development I’ve heard of has some concept of raising your self-awareness. “Know thyself.” “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Acting on the advice isn’t easy for many. Today I’ll post some tips.

Generally knowing yourself means knowing your motivations, values, what you find meaningful, and so on. I find all these things are rooted in your emotions. The more you understand about emotions the more you know what self to be aware of. Having a model of your emotional system helps.

My Model for the human emotional system tells you ways to simplify and break down the system to understand it more easily.

The Model

Its main elements are environment, belief, emotions, behavior, and reward. Trying to understand these elements is usually easier than understanding your “self,” which is more vague. I created lists of questions that I find easier to answer than general questions about your “self” that raise your awareness.

Try answering questions like these to help you raise your self-awareness.


  • How am I behaving?
  • How do I want to behave?
  • What other behaviors might be appropriate?
  • Who or what type of person might behave differently?
  • For someone to behave differently, how would that person feel?
  • How would that person view my situation?
  • What other situations have evoked this motivation in the past and how did I feel then?
  • What am I focusing my attention on and why?

Expression and communication

The Model considers your expression and communication part of behavior, so I put it under behavior.

  • What do I want to communicate about how I feel to people around me?
  • What am I expressing to myself?
  • What is my facial expression?
  • How am I trying to influence others?
  • How is my breathing? Is it deep, shallow, fast, slow, or what?
  • What is my body language? Open, closed, engaged, animated, reserved, tense, relaxed, etc?
  • What is my posture?
  • How is my voice? How are my tonality, pacing, volume, pausing, and other vocal characteristics?
  • What type of words am I using? Are they my usual language? Are they more or less emotionally charged than usual?
  • How are others expressing themselves?


  • What in my environment is prompting me to react and how? Is it a person, place, thing, idea, or what?
  • What if I don’t react to it?
  • Do I always react to this thing? Do I ever let it pass?
  • What if I perceive or react to it differently?
  • How might someone else react to it? How might I react to it in other circumstances?
  • How much is my perception of the thing biased?
  • How are others reacting to me?

Characteristics of emotions

  • Does this emotion bring me pleasure or pain?
  • Does the pleasure or pain conflict with reward or punishment?
  • How many emotions am I experiencing now? Many? Few? Are they conflicting?
  • Which ones am I acting on?
  • Am I avoiding awareness of any emotions?
  • Do these emotions tend to follow a pattern?
  • How intense are the emotions?
  • How long do I expect the different emotions to last?
  • How intense are these emotions?
  • How long have these emotions lasted? How long do I expect them to last?
  • Are the environment and behaviors associated with this state short-term or enduring?


  • What beliefs am I acting on?
  • Do they resonate with each other, my behavior, and my emotions?
  • Where or how did I acquire these beliefs? Do those reasons still apply?
  • How are my beliefs affecting my perception? How is my perception affecting my emotions?
  • What other beliefs might apply to this situation and how might they affect my perception differently?

Reward and Punishment

  • What emotional reward or punishment do I expect from my behavior?
  • What emotional punishment might I be avoiding or denying the existence of?
  • Is someone else offering reward or punishment to motivate me? What are their motivations?
  • What are the characteristics of the reward or punishment – pleasure, richness, intensity, and duration?

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