Take time out to quiet your mind and listen in every single day.
We come face to face with challenging situations that are out of our control quite regularly. A flight gets cancelled and your return date has to change. Temperatures drop drastically and your car won’t start. A friend passes away suddenly, leaving you shocked and devastated. However, with self-awareness we can shape and change the course of our lives, as we hone in on our ability to control what we can control: our thoughts, words and actions.
Your words create your world, and so do your beliefs and behaviours. If you can learn to be an observer of yourself-a fly on the wall, if you will- you can recognize patterns of thought, words and behaviours that do and don’t serve you. I’ve always been introspective, even as a little girl. Psychologically speaking, since about age 10, I’ve been curious about my brain and how it dictates my life. More recently, in the last couple of years, I’ve become spiritually introspective through yoga and meditation, looking more closely at the beat of my heart and soul.
Self-awareness has given me the gift of space: space between my thoughts and responses, space in my mind for peace and quite, and space in my body for faith in the workings of the universe. Meditation has been the most effective for me, in terms of helping me to identify limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns and default behaviours.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve been developing the self-awareness superpower since I was a cool kid.
I’ve become aware of stories in my head that serve no purpose, other than to keep me stuck in my comfort zone and feeling like I’m missing something. For example, a story that seems to sometimes surface when I meet professional success (ie: a promotion) is that I’m not good enough for it. In love, this self-worth story sometimes rears its ugly head, too. This is a lie that my ego’s attached to, but my heart is ready to purge.
Because I am self-aware and usually catch negative beliefs in my head when they surface I’m able to let them go and maintain my inner peace. Sometimes, though, the story is so insidious and deep-rooted that I won’t notice it’s motivating my thoughts or actions–at least not right away. When I’m not able to immediately catch myself in a mental downward spiral, anxiety, stress, depression and self-hatred tend to re-enter the picture. When I get to that low point I back-track a bit and ask myself what’s behind it all.
Steps to Develop Self-Awareness
So, how do YOU develop this power or stoke the self-awareness fire if it has dimmed in recent months or years? Priority number one is to make yourself a priority. Set aside 5-10 minutes a day to remove yourself from your tasks and obligations and listen in on yourself. Close your eyes, focus on the sensation and sound of breath in your body and notice the thoughts that surface.
Priority number two is to commit to being a non-judgmental observer of your thoughts. Drop analyzing or criticizing yourself for what comes up in your head and just approach each observation with interest. Instead of getting angry with yourself for having a negative thought, notice it and then let it go.
Priority number three is to write down or document what came up for you in these quiet moments. Don’t trust your memory to store the insights you’ve gained into your working mind. Put paper to pen or finger to keyboard and jot down what you’re noticing and would or would not like to change. Repeat number one to three every day or as often as you can for the rest of your life.
With self-awareness you begin responding to daily stressors and situations, rather than reacting to them. You choose your thoughts, words and actions more deliberately and consciously. You notice how much you do have control over in your life and shape your world according to your beliefs and goals. Basically, self-awarenss = freedom. Are you taking time out to develop this powerful tool? The time to start is right now.
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