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Self-Awareness: Theories and Examples


Human development is a process that takes various courses. This is because of the various life challenges and setups that come up during the development and growth of a child. Children are brought up in different environments with possibilities of acquiring various dimensions of life as well as behaviors. Most children brought up together get to acquire similar general traits, especially if they are subjected to the same environment and challenges. For instance, Children brought up during war times, tend to be resistant as they grow up and are rarely scared at their later stages as they have undergone such terror before. On the other hand, those born during times of peace are ever scared whenever terrifying moments arise. Several theories of the development of children have risen over the years (Hutchison, 2008, p. 123). These theories have been proven to work out for most people. Among them, including Erikson’s theories of whole life, which have been of a major focus in the development of human beings. This paper will attempt a self-awareness study relating to the theories of development like industry versus inferiority, among others.

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Self-awareness is the use of thoughts of a person to realize that he/she does exist. You become aware of your existence through knowledge that comes from your thoughts. It diverts the thoughts from events to oneself and this makes one conscious of his/her existence. It is quite imperative to note that self-awareness differs from self-consciousness. While self-awareness would include the thoughts of how someone developed and the changes throughout his/her life, self-consciousness is rather superficial as it only takes into account the fact that one exists, without going deeper into who the person is and the changes that have occurred in his/her life (Hutchison, 2008, p. 112). Theories have come up regarding self-awareness and, there are philosophical views as well, which emphasize thoughts and scientific views that focus on our attention which as it states as always on ourselves and does the evaluation and comparison of the internal behaviors we possess, as well as the values and standards we align with them.

Theories of development

The scientific view of self-awareness seeks the objective evaluation of oneself. This affects our emotional states and if on the negative can be destructive. Those who are helped to become self-aware are more likely to conform to their standards. Some people may also escape from failures through destructive means that include the use of drugs, detrimental to their further development. Self-awareness has been observed to develop systematically as one grows from childhood to adulthood and greatly influences the growth of the common inferential processes. Among the several theories of development, are those proposed by a Psychologist and psychoanalyst, Erikson; He believed in epigenetic principle as a factor of personality in development (Abbot, 2001, pp. 121-130).

The theories, also referred to as psychosocial stages, include Trust versus mistrust, which emphasizes the virtue of hope, is seen in children of one year and below. Autonomy versus doubt/shame stresses the virtue of willpower and is predominant among ages ranging from one year to three. The others include guilt and initiative, which has a virtue of purpose and is mostly seen in those between the ages of three and six; inferiority and Industry which has a virtue of competence and is predominant in those between the ages six and twelve. Further theories incorporate role confusion versus identity, with a virtue of fidelity and mostly lay with those between the ages twelve and eighteen; Isolation versus intimacy, which is dominant in young adults of, ages twenties to thirties and presents the virtue of love. More of the same are stagnation and generativity, which is considered to exist in ages between the thirties to fifties and presents the virtue of care; and despair versus integrity and ego, which brings out the virtue of wisdom and is dominant in ages beyond from fifties and beyond (Abbot, 2001, pp. 121-130).

I will not be very optimistic in relating my life as a toddler within the ages less than one because I was not aware of myself then, but I have seen several experiences in other young kids who trust so much in their parents and grow up to develop the virtue of hope. Reflecting on this, I would say that since I always held hope and confidence in my parents and anything, they told me, I believe I was able to balance the first theory as a toddler of Trust versus mistrust. This has helped build my personality in defining who to trust and who not to as well as why (Abbot, 2001, p. 121-130).

I can fairly remember my time as a two to three-year-old when I used to be allowed to play with other kids of my age, although it’s not quite clear in my mind, but from experiences of other children like my brother who was given the same treatment. I could see that my problem-solving ability has been drawn from this second theory of shame/doubt versus autonomy. During these times, I could identify the different types of general things as well as know their use. I could play with my toy cars, be able to distinguish between the wrestlers using their songs when they come to the ring, although my mother told me that I did not really care whether I was naked at the time (Abbot, 2001, pp. 121-130).

I can however remember the periods when I was about five years old, and during these moments I was ever busy. Watching movies, playing games, or fixing my toys as well as competing with other kids in my neighborhood are some of the activities I was involved in as a child. I was so involved that days seemed short, and I believe this has helped nurture my creativity skills and innovation as well as critical thinking. I used to wonder how a vehicle was made and critically assess how I could easily make a homemade alternative from locally available materials, I even made my own toys by 6 years and was really bothered by my failures to make a vehicle that could at least carry me and my family. My parents were supportive and even made closer contacts in helping nurture our relationships during these times. I believe this stage helped me develop the focus and purpose for life that I now possess. The stage or theory is referred to by Erikson as that of guilt and initiative (Abbot, 2001, pp. 121-130).

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My role as an industrious child with the purpose to achieve a lot at a tender age continued into ages seven through to my teens. This is when I was actively involved in learning, and taken through schooling. I still used my skills from school to improve my toys, giving them different colors, trying to imitate the battery-powered toys by making similar ones from cardboards. This built my self-esteem even among my peers who looked much older but were fathomed by the things I made myself. I could give them some to play with and this, in turn, helped strengthen my confidence. Some of the achievements during these times were improved academic performance and gave me the power over my peer as I influenced much of their decision and this was critical since I was able to escape bad influences and instead give better examples to my friends. However, I still felt I was continuing to fail in my attempt to make a functional car from wood. This stage has helped me continue pursuing different things even when I fail at the beginning periods. I never a loose expectation, and this has made me hold to the hope of forming an integral part of my country’s counsel initiative (Abbot, 2001, pp. 121-130).


The life experiences from childhood are essential in building adulthood life and the way they face the challenges before them. Through my industrious work, I was able to consolidate my peers strongly behind me in admiration of my works, which helped me pass what I learned from my parents and the environment to them, which they amicably received. This fostered our friendships and ensured focus in our lives. No wonder most of my friends from childhood are presently pursuing their education in top institutions of higher learning, in the U.S. and other parts of Europe (Turner, 1986, p.145). I am therefore quite convinced that self-awareness is of great significance in the development of a child and can contribute to behavior transfer between peers, which eventually leads to higher productivity, and intellectual capacity of the individuals.

Reference List

  1. Hutchison, E.D. (Ed.) (2008). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course. 3rd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  2. Turner J. F. (1986) Social Work Treatment Interlocking Theoretical Approaches (3rd Ed.). New York: Free Press.
  3. Abbot, T. (2001). Social and Personality Development: Development Psychology. London: Routledge.

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