To increase our self-awareness, we need to go through a process of honest self-examination to identify our values, beliefs and assumptions about other people and lifestyles (see Personal Reflection Exercises). Part of this involves observing our reactions and emotional responses to situations and people who are different from us. We can challenge ourselves to explore how we benefit from our identity and how it reinforces a vision of ourselves and our lives as “normal”. This can help us become more aware of our privileges and the advantages we derive from them.

Self-awareness can stimulate the development of critical thinking as we begin to notice the lens that filters our understanding of the outside world.

  • A Grade 12 teacher launches a discussion in class about career choices and post-secondary training opportunities, leading to individual projects, researching and reporting on career options and training possibilities. She arranges to meet individually with each student in order to follow up. One student submits a project outlining his interest in pursuing a career in nursing. During her meeting with him, the teacher notices that she feels troubled by his choice. She realizes that she would not feel this way if it were a girl’s project. She continues to encourage the boy in his choice and makes a mental note to think about this later.