Self-Awareness in Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Now is a great time to get to know yourself better!

How do you respond to situations out of your control?

The Importance of Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a core component of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and can have a huge impact on our lives.

First, just as mindfulness, meditation and gratitude can shift your mindset, so can self-awareness. Second, it can bring a positive spin on things. Third, it can enable you to better understand yourself and why you do what you do.

Social Emotional Learning
CASEL Social Emotional Learning Framework

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) – a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) – includes self-awareness as one of its core SEL competencies. The other four competencies are self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.

Learn more and download CASEL’s SEL framework.

What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is the process of bringing your attention to what’s happening in a mindful and open-minded way. It is the ability to recognize and understand emotions, values, goals, or strengths.

“Change requires two things: a goal, and an awareness of where one currently is in order to assess the discrepancy between the two.” – Psychology Today

If you want to change, you need to understand your current situation and then know where you want to go.

How to Build Self-Awareness for Social Emotional Learning

The good news is that self-awareness can be taught and adopted. I am a big proponent of open questions and reflective listening. These communication techniques allow the speaker and the recipient to reflect on their thought-processes and adapt.

Why is Self-Awareness so Important?

Self-awareness is a core component of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). It can help you realize how you respond to situations, where your weaknesses lie, and bring about positive decision-making.

1. You Recognize Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Dr Hallowell tells us to build up our strengths and worry less about raising our weaknesses. I completely agree. Cut yourself a break when things fall apart and celebrate when things go well.

2. You are not Held Hostage by Your Emotions

Self-management is another SEL competency.  It is very important for character development. It allows you to understand why you feel a certain way. Now you are in charge of how to react. Don’t let emotions control you. This is a healthy way to deal with life’s ups and downs.

3. It Provides Inspiration

Only you can really, truly motivate yourself. Want to start that big project? Channel your self-awareness to understand what you need to do to create a mindset that motivates you.

4. You Can Read the Room

It is critical to understand how others interpret us. How do you come across? As you are interacting with people, notice how they are responding to you. Pause and notice their body language and facial expressions. If you can read others’ reactions, you can change your behavior. I provide advice on how to Read the Room in my book and video.

5. You Know Your Values

No one can make you do something that you feel is not right or in your best interest. You decide what boundaries you will not cross. This is HUGE!

6. You Identify and Interpret Your Thoughts

Are you thinking or saying unkind things to yourself or others? Self-awareness allows you to recognize this and shift to a more positive approach.

7. You Listen to Your Gut

If your intuition is telling you something, you now listen. This is one of the best reasons to build self-awareness.


Self-awareness is your SuperPower! Build it, honor it and use it!


What is SEL?

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