Self Awareness: The First Step to Improving Our Health
What does it mean to be self-aware?
Self-awareness is the process of understanding one’s own beliefs, thoughts, motivations, and actions. It is the practice of consciously recognizing and reflecting on what we think, how we feel, what we believe, and how we behave at any specific moment in time.
Why is self-awareness important so important?
As humans, we are imperfect and it is impossible for use to be satisfied with everything in our lives. We desire to learn, to change, to grow, and to improve in order to elevate our lives in different ways. We strive to adopt new practices that bring us joy and inspiration. Self-awareness can guide and assist us in this process. Self-awareness is the foundation of change. Understanding the effects of our beliefs, thoughts, motivations, interpretations, and actions allow us to get a better understanding of ourselves and our lives. This attention and focus gives us knowledge that empowers us to shape and determine our world.
Let's say we have a dream job in mind and have a positive outlook about obtaining this dream job. We picture our dream job and everyday, we imagine it manifesting in our lives. What happens? We believe that we can get that dream job, which gives us hope, determination, and confidence. This makes us happy and maybe even causes us to work even harder. Eventually it allows us to actually have that dream job.
In the end, we got the dream job! Do you see how that worked? Lets consider how we did this. We didn't do it because our thoughts somehow magically manifested themselves into our lives. However, because of how our thoughts and beliefs made us feel, this affected all of the little action steps that landed us our dream job.
Okay, now lets look at it from another perspective. Say we are thinking negatively. We have that picture of our dream job and everyday we envision how it is not a possibility for us. What happens? We start to believe that we will never get that dream job, so we lose hope, determination, and confidence. This makes us sad and we stop trying, believing it is not possible. So, we never do get that dream job.
See how that worked? In the end we never got the job. We didn’t get it because our thoughts and feelings made us believe that it wasn’t possible and this caused us to not take action preventing us from getting our dream job. What a bummer.
Having self awareness allows us to see where our thoughts and emotions are taking us. It also allows us to take control of them and to then make the changes we want to make. Until we are aware of these emotions, thoughts, behaviors, etc, it is hard to make changes accordingly. How do we change what we don’t know?Well, the answer is…we can’t.
How can we become more self-aware?
With patience, time, and practice, we can learn to become more self aware. Below are 4 self-awareness practicesthat you can start incorporating into your life today!
Recognize your emotions.
Recognizing our emotions helps us to understand why we are having them and in turn, how to regulate them. When we are feeling a certain emotion, we should be asking ourselves:
- Where is this feeling coming from?
- What happened?
- How did it make me feel emotionally, physically, mentally?
- How does this feeling make me feel like reacting?
- What did I do or say or do following this emotion?
- How will this affect me and others later?
We are enjoying the day with a loved one. We say something and our partner reacts. We find that they don't react in the way you were hoping and so you become sad. The sadness carries into the rest of your day, causing you to not enjoy your time with that person. How could this have gone differently if we were aware of how our emotions and how our reactions to these emotions affect us…and in turn affect our lives?
Recognize your self-talk.
Self- talk is the dialogue we have with ourselves on a daily basis. The key to this is to simply start listening to what we say to ourself. Self-talk is forever occurring, even when we are not paying attention to what it is saying. There are many kinds of self talk from self-limiting self-talk, jumping to conclusions, habits of speech, and others’ thoughts becoming our own. Paying attention to these help us to understand the dialogues we have with ourselves and the affect it takes.
Paying attention to self-talk allows us to change that negative self-talk, we all have as humans, to positive self-talk. Changing self-talk helps to transform our physical, mental, and emotional health.
(Self-talk is a topic near and dear to my heart and it definably deserves it’s own blog post. Stay tuned for when I will be addressing self-talk further in in my ebook coming soon to the website. Woohoo!)
2. Practice Self-Evaluation/Self Analysis.
We can gain a lot of insight through analyzing ourselves, without judgement. Recognizing and becoming aware of our weaknesses, strengths, habits, practices, relationships, goals, plans, values, and priorities helps guide us in the right direction.
Every morning we get up, start the coffee, and turn on the morning news. We become upset as we leave for work. Through evaluation of our habits, we find that we start our day by filling our mind with negative thoughts of the sad current events that were shown on the news. This allows us to recognize that we may benefit from a new habit. So the next day, we wake up, grab our coffee, turn on our favorite music, and stretch it out. We leave for work happier and excited for the day.
Reflection allows us to notice patterns and understand our inner sate.After adopting the first practice of recognizing, we can then start to reflect on what we recognized. Reflection can be practiced in many ways. One way to reflect is through journaling. Writing helps us process our thoughts and can also create more headspace as we put our thoughts onto paper.
Personally, I do not gravitate to journaling. However, that doesn't mean that I don't practice reflection quite often. Other ways in which you can practice reflection are by simply being still and finding a quiet space where you can be alone with your thoughts, thorough meditation, through yoga, and so much more. My favorite way to reflect is by taking a nice long walk. When I come back from my walk, I feel clear headed and much more aware. As of lately, I also have been finding that I like to practice self-awareness in a creative way, in a way that is fun for me, like blogging, creating a fun video, or expressing myself through an Instagram post. Find a reflection practice that works best for you and encourages you to keep practicing.
Create that space for yourself. Leave yourself some time every day to connect with yourself, wether it is journaling with your morning coffee or during a planned yoga session.
4. Practice Mindfulness
The practice of paying attention to the present moment that is being experienced, on purpose and without judgement is called mindfulness.It is the practice of being where we are to observe what’s going on inside and around us. Mindfulness can be done anytime, anywhere, and in a variety of ways. It may come in the form of noticing our footsteps we take, to savoring each bite of our meal, to an intentional guided meditation session.
Now we understand the definition of self-awareness as well as the practices that can be used to improve our own self-awareness. However, earlier I said that self-awareness can help us to actually change different aspects of our life, but why should you take my word for it? How do we know this to be true?
Neuroplasticity is the process in which your brain's neural synapses and pathways are altered as an effect of environmental, behavioral, and neural changes. New research in the latter half of 20th century, showed that many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood. Your brain makeup changes as you experience new thoughts and new behaviors. The brain actually reorganizes synaptic connections, changing your brain! I don’t want to get into all of the specifics here, but I think you get the idea…self-awareness is powerful!
I leave you with this.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”