6 Signs You Lack Self-Awareness in Everyday Life

lack of self-awareness

Signs you lack self-awareness in your everyday life.

As a species, humans often fail in the self-awareness department. We’ve got an outdated brain working in a loud, deceiving culture. Our Pinterest feeds fill with shiny pins that make us excited to change, yet we ignore the fact that we’ll be doing the same thing in a month. We set New Year’s resolutions only to give them up by mid-January.

A lack of self-awareness is perhaps our most significant enemy to self-growth.

I’m sure you can name someone in your life who lacks self-awareness. The most egregious examples of lacking self-awareness are easy to spot. The people make excuses, have emotional outbursts, and give answers unrelated to the actual question. We might think of coworkers or family members or friends. (How many times have I told Susie that she shouldn’t go for bad guys?!)

But the truth is, the majority of us lack self-awareness in everyday life. Research has shown that 95% of people think they’re self-aware. In reality, only 10-15% of us really are.

Fortunately for you, you can change this. Once you accept that you probably lack self-awareness, you can start to look for the signs in your life. Then, you can learn how to change them to achieve the growth that you want.


Why change a lack of self-awareness?

Have you heard of the phrase “Ignorance is bliss”? It can be tempting to avoid topics like self-awareness. After all, it can be incredibly scary to look within ourselves and search for the truth. I mean, what if we don’t like what we find?

Lacking self-awareness might make us feel safe, but it’s hurting us far more than it’s helping.

signs you lack self-awareness

Possessing self-awareness can have life-changing effects on our life. These changes aren’t just in the moment either; they are long-lasting. Lacking self-awareness holds us back in our work, our happiness, our relationships, and our emotional well-being. Even if we feel like we’re moving in a positive life direction, having no self-awareness typically results in getting stuck in harmful loops.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been super introspective. I love to look inward and figure out why I am the way I am. However, it took me years before I realized that introspection did not equal self-awareness. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I became much more self-aware.

Since being able to experience the examples of self-awareness in everyday life, I’ve been happier with myself and my relationships. My world quite literally opened up as I realized all of the previous defenses that held me back.


6 Signs you Lack Self-Awareness

When you lack self-awareness, you fail to identify what you’re feeling and how it manifests itself in your daily actions. You fail to see the patterns in your behaviors and thinking. As a result, you tend to experience more negative emotions because you don’t know how to better align your choices with what you want.

You need to identify where you lack self-awareness in life before you can be more self-aware. Try to approach this list with openness, vulnerability, and courage.

1. Your emotional reaction doesn’t match the situation

lack self-awareness

Have you ever felt a strong emotional reaction that felt larger than the situation required? Perhaps you went into a nervous breakdown about a new bit of news, or maybe you flew into a rage at something your friend did (or didn’t) do.

If your emotional reaction doesn’t match the situation, you’re more than likely lacking self-awareness. Your extreme emotions were triggered by something much more deeply rooted than the present events.

When my fiancé wouldn’t follow through with something he said he was going to, I became hypercritical of him. (Even if it was something super trivial). I would express my fury and feel the frustration boiling in my chest. It took me a while to realize that the unsent mail wasn’t causing my anger. It wasn’t even anger at all. Instead, anger hid the deep fear of disappointment that I harbored away.

Step back and consider when your emotional reactions are too dramatic for the situation. What might be the underlying cause instead? What can you do to change your response?


2. You get defensive when receiving feedback


It’s our natural tendency to reject feedback when we receive it. We want to protect our pride. Not to mention, we listen to confirmation bias and struggle to accept information that contradicts us.

Beneath it all, however, is a fear of vulnerability that’s causing a lack of self-awareness.

Receiving feedback is tough. We can’t help but focus on the negative pieces of information. This taps into some of our primal fears of not belonging and not being good enough. We switch into defensive mode when people tell us something about ourselves that we don’t already know. This defensiveness might manifest in the form of making excuses, lashing out, being passive aggressive, or trying to control others.

Because we’re built to lack self-awareness, we need feedback to understand ourselves better. If you find yourself fighting against feedback, ask yourself why this is. If you are self-aware, more feedback will simply help you better understand what you already know. This can also help improve your self-awareness at work.


3. You repeat negative emotional patterns


Emotions are incredibly complicated to recognize and control. That’s because they’re rooted in some of the deepest parts of our brain wiring. Because they’re so deeply rooted, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s causing them. And if we don’t know what’s causing them, we can’t do anything to stop them.

A clear sign of lacking self-awareness is if you find yourself repeating negative emotional patterns.

These negative emotional patterns are different for everyone. Some of you might fall into fits of anxiety and panic; others might become super lonely or depressed. I tended to get super worked up and critical over my relationship conflicts (even if they were tiny). The reason these patterns repeat themselves is that you aren’t able to recognize what’s going on.

The more self-aware you are, the more likely you’ll be able to do two things. First, you’ll identify that you’re in a negative emotional pattern. Second, you’ll be able to recognize what caused this pattern and what might need to change to prevent it.

Check out 5 Sure-Fire Questions to help you Identify Your Emotional Patterns.


4. The things you do to “make yourself feel better” don’t actually make you feel better

signs you lack self-awareness

We all fill our time with hobbies, time-wasters, and behaviors that are supposed to make us feel better. For you, this might be having a glass of wine at the end of a long day. For others, it’s taking a mental break and scrolling through social media.

If you are self-aware, you can be intentional with these actions as a means of self-care. However, a clear sign that you lack self-awareness is when these “feel better” behaviors don’t actually make you feel better.

This lack of self-awareness becomes particularly evident when we’re feeling extra stressed or low. We want to mask our negative emotions with distractions. When I used to feel uncertain about something in my life, I tried to regain a sense of control by diving into work. The focused hours, however, didn’t make me feel any better or help me solve my problems.

Whatever you try to numb your emotions with (whether it’s work, alcohol, TV, etc.), it merely takes you away from the main problem you have to deal with. Ultimately, it adds to your lack of self-awareness.


5. You haven’t found a way to be consistently successful

signs you lack self-awareness

You might think it’s bold to declare you should be able to be consistently successful. After all, life is unpredictable and throws a lot of obstacles at us. But how you handle these obstacles and maneuver toward success can be consistent.

If you’re consistently facing the same challenges over and over again, failing to achieve success, you probably lack self-awareness.

Being self-aware won’t magically make challenges go away. It will, however, help you understand yourself well enough to know what you can do. You can identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you can create environments and situations that will highlight your strengths and diminish the impact of your weaknesses. Even how you dress can affect your awareness.

Over the years, I’ve found out that I’m extremely disciplined and organized. These skills have helped me tackle projects in my personal life and in my professional life that bring my skills to the forefront. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that “big picture” ideas sometimes challenge me because I care more about completion. Knowing this, I can tap into my self-awareness to know when I’ll be in my comfort zone, and when I need to find myself some extra support.

Consider these questions to determine your strengths and weaknesses.


6. You regularly regret decisions in your everyday life

signs you lack self-awareness

Have you ever made a purchase and regretted it? Or maybe you’ve said something that you wish you could take back? We’re human, which means we’re bound to make a ton of mistakes. But, while we can’t be perfect, we also shouldn’t consistently feel regret in everyday life.

If you regularly regret the decisions that you’ve made, you more than likely lack self-awareness.

We learn through our mistakes. If I purchase something on a whim and then regret it three days later, I learn that it wasn’t the best decision. Maybe I follow a similar pattern a couple of times before realizing it’s not what I need to be doing. However, if I keep repeating the same cycle of buy and regret, I’m clearly not learning any lessons about myself.

This cycle of action and regret can manifest itself in different ways. For you, it might look like an unhealthy choice, a poor reaction, or a failed attempt to change. Whatever it is, you can pause the cycle by improving your self-awareness of what you want and need.


Why is Self-Awareness Important? A Lack of Self-Awareness Leaves You Blind to Control

Humans like to crave control. You do, I do – it’s rooted in our DNA because control and certainty feel safer than the unknown. Unfortunately, this desire for control also contributes to a lack of self-awareness because we think we’re in more control than we actually are.

Improving your self-awareness can have life-changing effects that extend way beyond daily bouts of frustration. That’s because being self-aware allows you to see what you do control in your life. After acknowledging what you do control, you can work to change it. As for what you don’t contrl? You can let it go.

Many people feel uncomfortable naming what’s out of their control. But if you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you might be surprised by how freeing it can be to let go of these things – such as your emotions and reactions to the environment around you. Eventually, you’ll be able to write your own narrative.

Read more about what else you don’t know you don’t control in my post Why Self-Awareness is Important.


It’s not your fault that you lack self-awareness

If you haven’t picked up on it already, it’s not your fault that you lack self-awareness. We’re wired to protect ourselves based on evolutionary needs that developed millions of years ago. That’s a pretty significant barrier to overcome. Humans are designed to seek survival and avoid pain and danger.

For this reason, it doesn’t help anything if you feel bad about your lack of self-awareness. No amount of self-blame or shame will improve your self-awareness. Quite the opposite, actually; these emotions will prevent you from being more self-aware.

The best thing you can do is embrace the fact that you lack self-awareness. Only after you do this can you begin to make positive changes.


How to develop self-awareness if you’re missing it in life

Self-awareness takes time and practice to develop. It also requires you to understand more fully what examples of self-awareness in everyday life look like.

Once you understand what self-awareness is, you can begin to implement it in your daily life. You can pause throughout your day to identify your emotions. Additionally, you can take a broader perspective on your day or your life to learn more.

Receiving feedback from others, while scary, is another excellent opportunity to overcome your lack of self-awareness. You can conduct a formal review or simply have a candid conversation with friends.

I’ve written a 100-page book on self-awareness that’s packed with helpful info, self-awareness activities, and reflection questions. All you have to do is give me your email and I’ll send you the downloadable link, no strings attached! Check out the details below!


Self-awareness skills for those of us who have no self-awareness

Self-awareness isn’t something that you just “become” or “adopt” in the blink of an eye. Instead, it’s a more holistic development of a variety of skills.

Think of it like learning a new sport. If you wanted to become a better basketball player, you wouldn’t expect yourself to be able to watch one NBA game and then go out ready to dunk and hit every 3-pointer you take. Instead, you’d begin to work to develop all of the skills that come with basketball (dribbling, shooting, defense, etc.). By breaking it down, your training would become more manageable.

The same is true for overcoming no self-awareness. You can use the variety of skills as goals for your personal development.

Six main self-awareness skills you can develop include being able to:

  1. Name what you’re doing at any given moment
  2. Name how you’re feeling at any given moment.
  3. Understand your emotional triggers
  4. List your strengths and shortcomings in context
  5. Recognize your impact on your surroundings
  6. Make decisions with intention and purpose

Want to learn more about each of these skills and how you can improve each one? Read my latest post on why these self-awareness skills will help you find more success in your life.


If you lack self-awareness, you’re severely hurting your chances for self-growth. Many of us lack self-awareness in everyday life, even though we don’t realize it.

The sooner you can identify the signs that show if you lack self-awareness, the sooner you can start making actual changes in life.

If any of the following signs apply to you, you might lack self-awareness in your life:

  1. Your emotional reaction doesn’t match the situation
  2. You get defensive when receiving feedback
  3. You repeat negative emotional patterns
  4. The things you do to “make yourself feel better” don’t actually make you feel better
  5. You haven’t found a way to be consistently successful
  6. You regularly regret decisions in your everyday life

Check out the questions below to start your self-awareness journey!

5 thoughts on “6 Signs You Lack Self-Awareness in Everyday Life”

  1. Mary Anne Orr

    Cara your questions about self awareness couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve been on isolation for over 3 weeks and it has been hell. Last Thursday night a friend tried to deliver a meal to me and the “higher ups ” wouldn’t accept it as it was not in a carton or secured in a safe manner. All they had to do was wipe the container down with sanitizer and deliver it to me! My friend had to take it back home. When I found out I went ballistic. I called the lady at the desk and screamed at her and was practically incoherent. I then called Kathy and Andy and cried and carried on some more. I’d had enough and wanted out of this place. They calmed me down and Kathy offered to fly down to get me and take me to NH. Andy also suggested I write a letter voicing my complaints which I did. The next day the director called me and commiserated with me. To placate me she said she would allow me to sit outside for 20 minutes. It was a small victory but I took it. The above story leads to my lack of self awareness. I later found out that 9 new cases of the virus had been discovered in our facility! I was so concerned about my needs I failed to consider the needs of others! We are still on total isolation but I’ve since apologized for my tantrum and am trying to abide by the rules. I have to be able to control my emotions and consider all aspects of the situation and handle it in a more mature way! Thanks for listening! Love you! Mimi

    1. Hi Mimi, thanks for sharing! I can’t imagine being stuck inside. I love that you were able to reflect, but those emotions sound very real and difficult in the interim. I think everyone’s emotions are a bit on edge right now in these times. Thanks for reading and being vulnerable by sharing your story!

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