What is Self Awareness?
My definition of self awareness is as follows: Observing and Understanding ones own response to internal/external physical and emotional stimuli. Now this isn’t a definition I’ve been sitting with for years. In fact, I haven’t really come up with a finite definition of Self Awareness until creating this podcast. Keep that in mind as this will likely shift for me overtime.
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I’ve always said that the first step to change is self awareness. The reason many of us are stuck in the life we live isn’t because we don’t have the time, the money, know the right people, or aren’t good enough. The reason we are stuck or THINK that we are stuck is because we lack self awareness.
This isn’t a knock on anyone. We’re taught from a young age to not trust what our body tells us. Caregivers tell us we’re not smart, not to cry, not to be scared, do what we’re told, and the list goes on and on. And every time we hear that shaming language a little bit of our self awareness gets lost.
Soon we learn to rely on everything external to us to determine if everything inside is well.
The weather, how much money I make, my position in my company, my celebrity status, my Facebook likes and Twitter follows, whether or not our partner is happy, the economic status of our country, Fridays, Vacations, and on and on…
Some of us become so disconnected from who we are that when asked how we feel we’re completely numb. I’ve worked with many people who literally don’t know how they feel. Most everyone else has a sense of what they’re feeling but can’t quite describe it.
How many times have you responded to the question, “How are you feeling” with “fine”, “good” or “ok”? Sure, if you’re talking to a stranger you may not want to get into all the complications of your life. But we respond this way to close family, friends, and even our partners as well. Fine, Good, and OK are not feelings. They are judgements. On the surface you might ask me, “Josh, why are you acting so critical? You know what I mean when I say these things and after all it’s just semantics. I would argue that this isn’t the case at all.
How we feel often times dictates how we respond to life. We have a thought about something, we apply a meaning to that thought (often based on what’s happened in our past) and then we produce a feeling. From there we normally act upon it. If we’re feeling happy we often times laugh or smile and we’re more apt to be friendly. If we feel angry or frustrated we often act in accordance with those feelings too.
So you might wonder or others that are close to you might wonder why you respond to life the way you do. Consider the following scenarios where you might question why you respond the way you do:
1. Stuck at a job you don’t like.
2. Stuck in a relationship you don’t want to be in.
3. Seem to never have enough time in the day.
4. Constantly putting yourself last and others first.
5. Others might call you a perfectionist.
6. You can’t commit.
7. You can’t say No and when you say Yes, you rarely follow through.
8. Someone cuts you off while driving and you flip them off.
9. You become physically or emotionally abusive to others when “THEY” make you mad.
10. You’re constantly looking to “feel good” whether it’s in the form of drinking, drugs, sex, social media, buying things you can’t afford, eating unhealthy in the name of “it tastes good” and on and on…
Look, I find myself in many of these situations from time to time. Self Awareness isn’t a finite and concrete state of being. Once you learn to become self aware it takes daily practice and even then it can be difficult to have anything different than a conditioned response.
We all have areas in our life that need improvement and I believe that each of these areas point back to a lack of self awareness. Once we have the tools to become self aware we will have more opportunities for the change we seek.
I’m going to provide you with 5 Steps to becoming more Self Aware:
1. Pause – in any given situation pause long enough stay centered and grounded in your body. (Breathe)
2. Think – What thoughts are you having in that moment about the situation.
3. Meaning – What do your thoughts mean? That you are not enough? or that you are enough/matter/lovable, etc.
4. Feelings – What feelings are you having as a result of the meaning you applied to your thoughts?
5. Response – Respond based on your feelings ONLY WHEN they align to a meaning that you are good, lovable, etc.
Some guidelines to consider when putting these steps into place are:
Lots of Practice
Forgive Yourself not “if” but “when” you make a mistake in this process
Be Intentional and live on purpose!
This is about YOU becoming more self aware of YOURSELF not you trying to read, change, or fix other people in an attempt for them to become self aware. Remember, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Weekly ISA Challenge: Self Awareness
1. Practice the 5 steps to self awareness.
2. Journal what you observed about each of the steps in this process.
3. Start noticing patterns.
4. Don’t judge yourself, just notice and become an observer.