We’re all busy in our routines nowadays that we hardly get time to even grab a healthy bite with a free mind. When was the last time you afforded yourself the luxury of reflecting, meditating, or self-assessing? It’s much more likely that you spend your time thinking about the next job, the expenses, the deadline, relationships, the goal, and the best way to make it through the day. We tend to do “anything but” think of self awareness and yet it’s one of the most powerful things we can do peak performance and for a life that works.
What is self-awareness?
1. Self-awareness is a process of self-reflection that leads to the discovery of our personality by monitoring our thoughts, reviewing our beliefs, understanding our motives and embracing our emotions. Self awareness allows us to observe how we think, speak and act and that observation provides clues as to where we can create gains in life.
2. Self awareness is a survival mechanism by it’s very nature and it supports us in adapting to change and succeeding in life. A powerful context for our life’s experiences is to see them as learning ground, opportunities, and places to inquire. This way, no matter what comes at us in life, we can embrace it and be aware of how it impacts us.
3. Self-awareness is about understanding ourselves – essentially what makes us tick. For example, we may find ourselves attracted to certain topics or causes. We may look at what can’t be done, rather than what can be done. We may be open to others views, rather than closed minded to them. We may be more creative, and less scientific. We may stay safe rather than risk. Knowing our tendencies, actions and reactions, is important because they hold the key to our outcomes.
4. Self-awareness, comes from knowing that how we think, leads to how we speak, and how we act. With self awareness start to identify patterns of thinking that can lead us into hot water or turn us into a peak performance, Olympic athlete. With self reflection, we realize that we are the source of our own successes based on how we think and react to the day to day, minute by minute situations of our lives.
Experiences are portals for reflection
5. We live in a sea of experiences. Sometimes we think experiences are great, other times we think they are bad. We coined the term “bad luck” to describe those experiences that happen “to us” that we don’t like. Self-awareness shines the light on those experiences and removes the good and bad, the right and wrong, and the like and dislike.
Life comes at us point blank with a range of experiences some of which we don’t have control over. What we do have control over, however, is how we act and react to them and this gives way to future days filled with happiness or anxiety, demise or success. We have the ability-to-respond to situations, therefore, “responsibility” is more about acting in ways that can respond to a situation.
6. Not being self aware, limits the range in which we live because we operate “unaware” of our emotions and what they signify. Emotions can be compared to a compass, they support us in moving to new and often healthier directions for our lives. For example, frustration can often signify that you are on the verge of a breakthrough. Confusion can mean you are about to learn something new. When we realize these emotions are bridges to new positive outcomes, we are more likely to embrace them rather than repress or deny them.
7. When we become aware of the direct correlation between how our thoughts and actions impact our results, that’s when we can take control of the direction that life goes. When life is great and easy, it is great and easy. But as soon as there is turmoil people crumble. Emotionally charged situations are what most people deny, avoid, and repress. We don’t want to go there. But not going there only delays the inevitable, that something has to change or invariably that issue will rise and rise again until it’s resolved. These days people may resolve issues by getting divorced, firing, the courts, etc., when some of this could be avoided with both parties becoming self aware and realizing how they contributed to the situation and its demise and act accordingly to correct it. So the good news is, self awareness offers a natural course of correction in troubled times.
Illness can be a powerful teacher
A person dealing with the challenge of an illness has options for healing. The body itself is a relentless healer. One only has to cut a finger to know that the body will heal that cut in a few days. It’s our natural tendency to heal. Given this how does illness occur for each of us? Do we take on illness as a challenge that can be overcome or become defeated? Do we react to illness with new possibilities and a healing attitude that may lead to eating well, being in nature, laughing a lot, and exercising or alternatively do we go into a state of depression and isolate ourselves from those who could support? Is illness met with curiosity and a will to understand it’s meaning and growth potential?
Stress related illnesses result in body reactions that often request a change. Stress may indicate that we need to take responsibility for a situation and modifications may be required. When we change the conditions that cause stress or change how we relate to things that make us “stressed” we can discover a new way. Without self reflection, we are more likely to work harder, force, push and dominate situations that feel out of control – which ultimately doesn’t solve the issue or relieve the stress. William James said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”.
Not all illnesses can be cured by assessing thoughts and modifying behaviours, but some can. Medical conditions require doctors who are qualified to assess medical situations however every person knows their own life’s conditions and assessing how we operate in life will support overall well-being.
We won the battle but we lost the war
We all want healthy, happy families and to be a contribution to the world. Our own awareness falls short when we focus on short-term gains at the expense of long-term goals. History allows us to look back and see that we are constantly evolving and growing. At one point we didn’t wear seat belts, smoked cigarettes in public buildings and women didn’t vote. Once we realized it was not a sustainable way of thinking and living, we evolved and we changed it.
How we think, leads to how we act, and the outcomes we have. There is a very clear correlation. Communication is the vehicle of thought and it is the bridge to actions. So communication is key. Our lives are made up of a network of conversations. How we communicate with each other and to the masses will either add to the difficulties in our lives or mitigate them.
Take for example the media and the six o’clock news. The media engages masses of people in the good news but more often than not, it also engages people in fear, and negativity. The thirst for public drama leaves us in a precarious position as we satiate appetites for drama, at the expense of our people and healthy communities. Essentially we are winning the battle but we are losing the war.
We can choose to communicate in ways that support each other in reaching common goals or we can rip each other to shreds in the media. True change takes place with an acute understanding that we are all in this together. Life is difficult enough as it is, therefore, being responsible for what and how we communicate is the key to a society that works or doesn’t. Ultimately it’s the consumers of media that are responsible, because newspapers, television stations, online, and social media, will respond directly to what people buy and engage with. What would happen if we used the media to elevate thinking and actions toward prosperity and a sustainable future? That would be an incredible mission.
Whatever we focus on expands
Articulated or not, fundamentally every one of us knows that the more we focus on negativity, what doesn’t work, what’s wrong, and demise, the further down we spiral. We experience this in our own lives and yet we most often don’t have the words to describe how it works. Abraham Maslow said, “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”.
Life improves with self-awareness. The benefits include increased self-confidence, heightened appreciation, better connections and communication with others, love of yourself and others, self esteem, higher productivity, and ultimately living a passionate life that serves us. In contrast, negative patterns, bad habits, drama, demise, are all indicators of change and most often they are opportunity disguised as misfortune. The things that daunt us and trigger us can be the window’s into new worlds of change. We can take a look through the window or we can close the drapes and go back to sleep.
Dan Millman, a former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor, college professor and world-leading author said, “It is better for you to take responsibility for your life as it is, instead of blaming others or your circumstances, for your predicament. As your eyes open you’ll see that your health, happiness and every circumstance in your life, in large part, has been arranged by you – consciously or unconsciously.
Stephen Covey is a master of human potential and had a global following of readers with his best-selling book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Stephen said, “Every human has four endowments. Self awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom, the power to choose, to respond, to change.”
Having the wisdom to “know thyself” is written in the bible as a human virtue. I would assert that the underlying ability to grasp the importance of emotional self-transparency is essential to life itself. I can only imagine the limitless possibilities that would be available for our people by taking personal responsibility for the challenges that each day presents. United as people, we can solve just about anything. With self awareness, we can create everything!
Tina Olivero is an enthusiastic author, international speaker, and entrepreneur. With a passion for human potential and business success she has built: TheOGM.com and TransformWithTina.com with the goal of enhancing personal and professional lives.
To speak more with Tina on this topic please email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
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