20 Jan 7 Steps to Self-Awareness
As part of the 28 day “I’m Possible” non-challenge challenge, we have asked you to decide what it is you want to achieve in these 28 days and for the rest of 2016. Our aim is to help you form habits to make this a reality. (If you haven’t thought about where you’d like to be at the end of 2016, take a moment to think about it now.)
We then encourage you to write down and share your goals. Share them with your friends and family and stick them somewhere visible – so that you will be reminded of them every day.
Thirdly, become accountable. You can read Jonno’s three-tiered approach to setting goals here. At the end of the day, if you aren’t accountable to anyone for your goals, you will find every excuse to get out of them. That’s why we suggest sharing them with us and as many people as possible – so that it will be easier to follow through with them.
Our fourth request is that you share a picture of your goals. The more people that are aware of your goals the better it will be for you.
The next task we have for you is that you start to become aware. Being self-aware, aware-of-self, is probably the most important thing you can do as an individual.
To know yourself is the only way you will understand who you are, what you want to achieve from life and to see a clear path to get where you want to go.
All of our life experiences program who we are. This includes our personality, our fears, our thoughts, our actions and the way we see ourselves. If we want to be the best person that we can be, we have to be willing to unlearn everything that we have already learnt and be open to new possibilities and ways of thinking and doing.
To unlearn is a tall ask. You’re possibly thinking that you already know everything you need to know about yourself, but you are probably wrong. Thinking and knowing are very different. You are reading this because you have made the choice to change. Change can be uncomfortable. But, choose to stay open to the possibility of change.
In order to become self-aware, we have to delve deep into ourselves to figure out where our emotional triggers, habits, self-beliefs and thought patterns have come from. This can be tough because we will more than likely come faceto face with our flaws.
Who we are already begins to be shaped in the womb. Each situation from the womb onwards has helped to mould the people we are today. Each individual we have come into contact with has been there to teach us something. But sometimes, what we learn might not be the real truth – it is only our perceived truth, from the experiences that have shaped us. Likewise, most of our self-beliefs and self-talk might not even be real. The only reason that they are programed within us is because of years of conditioning – repeatedly doing the same thing and saying the same things to ourselves, over and over again.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Unknown
Most of us seem to have far more negative thoughts and beliefs than positive ones. The real task is to try and undo these negative patterns and to replace them with positive ones. As much repetition as it took to form the negative thought or belief is how much repetition it will take to replace it with a positive one.
A busy mind doesn’t mean a happy mind. When we are constantly berating ourselves for our actions or trying to justify why we have done something or when we analyse each situation – we become our own worst enemies. By the same token, when we do everything in our power to numb the pain and avoid the feeling, we are not being true to ourselves and we land up becoming miserable.
It’s easier to blame external factors than it is to accept that our reality is our own making. When we react negatively to a situation it is our ego being bruised. Each situation that triggers a negative response within us is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. We are the only ones who can change something and learn from our mistakes. Taking a step back from the situation and looking at it at with fresh eyes is important in understanding why we act the way we do.
The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “For a person who is not aware that he is doing anything wrong has no desire to be put right. You have to catch yourself doing it before you can reform.”
Being self-aware means owning who we are, the good and the bad. Accepting ourselves the way we are, but knowing that there is room for improvement. It is deciding where we want to go in life and taking the necessary step to get there, no matter how daunting.
The benefits of being self-aware include:
Being able to accept yourself for who you are
Being able to interact better with people without reacting negatively to situations
Forming deeper connections with people
Becoming more self-loving
Becoming a happier person
Achieving your goals
Replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones
The ability to live in, and appreciate, the moment without planning ahead or wanting to be somewhere else
Letting go of fears
Living a less stressed life
Making wiser decisions
Becoming self-aware isn’t going to happen overnight. It is an ongoing process to undo old habits and to form new ones that will lead you closer to your true self.
These seven steps below can help you achieve self-awareness:
Get in touch with your emotions.
Start to become aware of how you react in situations. If you react negatively in a situation, make a note. Keeping a journal can be helpful to document your emotions as you will have a reference to look back on. It is important to get to the root of the emotional triggers. If someone does something to make you angry, you can slowly start to unravel the reason by writing down each instance that this occurs. The trigger can lead you all the way back to childhood, so don’t expect this to happen overnight. It’s also important to take note of how you deal with that anger – do you immediately attack or do you keep quiet and then eat an entire chocolate cake to make you feel better? Your reaction is equally as important to finding out more about yourself as the emotion is. Sometimes, we are unable to see things for ourselves. It might help to speak to someone close to you about this point and ask them to gently call you out when you react negatively in a situation. It can be uncomfortable because in the heated moment you will have to examine your flaws, but it will be a good observational lesson.
Seek to understand, not to be right.
Leading on from the above, you owe it to yourself to put your ego aside and to understand what you can learn in each trying situation. As soon as you feel a negative emotion arise or you want to argue your point, decide to remove yourself from the situation and become an observer of yourself or choose to sit in the feeling for a moment and then let it go. Becoming less attached to an emotional trigger will allow you to react differently in a situation. Circumstances will keep arising to provide you with opportunities to either learn or to put into practice what you have learned.
Replace negative self-talk with positive talk. Find a mantra.
Each time you speak negatively to yourself, try and replace it with something positive. When you look at yourself in the mirror and immediately fixate on something you don’t like, rather try and look for something that will make you feel good about yourself, no matter how small it is.
Find a mantra that you can repeat to yourself all the time. This will start to form a positive thought pattern.
Examples of mantras include:
I accept myself for who I am
I choose to let go of everything that is out of my control
Today I choose to live with positivity and love
But, think about something that is important to you. Choose a mantra that will make you feel good each time you say it.
Treat yourself with kindness.
Be compassionate with yourself and don’t become frustrated when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. This process is a long one. It isn’t a simple task to override beliefs and habits that you have been carrying for many years. Just know that each step is a step closer to forming good, healthy habits that will help shape the new you.
Become more self-loving.
Instead of rewarding yourself with an alcoholic beverage after a tough day or a chocolate if you are feeling sad, choose a more self-loving option like a bubble bath, a massage or time out with a good book.
It’s easy to focus on the negative, we all know that. But, by setting aside some time each day to count your blessings and to be grateful for what you have in your life, it will make it easier to let go of the negative and begin to live a life of fulfilment.
Take a moment at the end of each day to reflect. Ask yourself questions like: Did I treat myself and others with kindness? Why did I react in a certain situation? What did I learn that was useful? How could I have handled the situation better? What did I do better today than I did yesterday? By doing this you will be able to evaluate you progress and decide what to be more aware of tomorrow.
Doing all seven of these steps might be a bit overwhelming at first, start small and focus on one a day and then build up gradually as you go along.
As a parting thought, remember to practice forgiveness. When we forgive others, and ourselves, we release so much of what weighs us down. The process of forgiveness is letting go of the past, making space for the new and positively moving on with our lives. “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie.