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3 Giant Steps to Become More Self-Aware

Woman sitting at an outdoor table with laptop computer and notebook.

Consider the Universal Growth Process model. You’ll see that the first step is: Awareness. There’s no question in my mind that awareness is the key to all future growth in our lives. The question for me, though, is this: How, exactly, do I help myself to become more self-aware?

In his many books and other publications, Dr. Joe Dispenza says, that our lives are all about “what we feel and how we think and how we act.” (Many others say that, too, although not always so succinctly.)

Based on those concepts, I’ve created a list of questions to answer in my journal to help become more self-aware. Here they are.

How can I change my patterns of thought?

I encounter some situation every day.

  • I recently got a call from a client who bought a course nearly a year ago, completed less than half of it, and is asking for a refund because the course wasn’t helpful to her.
  • This morning, I had an egg blow up in the microwave.
  • This afternoon, I called the healthcare insurance company to confirm a reimbursement.

What about these situations? What meaning do I assign to them? Are they “bad,” or “good”?

In The Daily Stoic, authors Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, say these situations — all of which I’d honestly rather not face — only have power over us when we think about them and label them “bad.”

What about negative self-talk? Wow. I’m a master at that.

After hearing some of my verbal self-talk, a friend once asked, “Marie, would you say that junk to me or to another friend? No? Of course you wouldn’t! Because those words are condescending and demeaning! Those accusations are unjust! So why are you saying those words to yourself?”

I was able to overcome some of my negative self-talk by reading Helmstetter’s book, What to Say When You Talk to Your Self.

What expectation do you hold in certain settings or with certain people?

What are your core beliefs, and how do they influence your thinking?

Naming, analyzing, and anticipating my patterns of emotion

I’m not always good at this, but I try to observe my own moods and emotions. To that end, I journal. Every night, in an attempt to become more self-aware, I force myself to write something about how I feel.

Do I always have the right words? Maybe not. I often revisit  the wheel of emotions for some clues.

Even after I name those emotions, am I always honest with myself? Well, um, maybe not.

And if I am honest with myself, do I understand what makes me happy? Or … more to the point … what pushes my buttons?

Can I anticipate what will set me off, and am I prepared to tone down my response? Or do I just rush in, headlong, and react impulsively?

Admittedly, I label some emotions as “bad.” I tell myself it’s “bad” to feel rejected or embarrassed or sad. I try to ignore those emotions, or tell myself that I shouldn’t feel that way, or just pretend I feel something else. If I could, I’d chuck those emotions into a trash can, because I don’t want to face them or handle them.

Meaning, I just push those “bad” emotions underground. But when I do that, it impedes my question to become more self-aware.

Are you aware of your patterns of emotions?

Beware of your patterns of behavior

On a regular basis, I snap at people who didn’t answer my question. This morning, I growled at the insurance guy, “Fifteen minutes ago, I asked you one question, and you still haven’t answered it.”

I ask myself: Why did that incident — and a million others like it — set me off?

Ah yes. I lashed out at the guy on the phone because he wasn’t listening to my question. The whole thing reminded me of my mother; having a uni-sation or a sine-sation but not a conversation.  

Until I can become aware of my triggers, chances are, I’ll continue that pattern of behavior.

What motivates me? Oh, thanks to Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile, and their book, The Road Back to You, I understand. I’m a classic Ennea 3. I’m looking for the applause.

People often mistake me for a perfectionist, but I’m not. I only try for perfection because mistakes usually result in disapproval, and conversely, a job well done results in approval. At some level, I equate approval with love.

When do I sabotage my own efforts? Oh, often. Very often. I can underrate, undersell, and underestimate myself all day long.

Developing self-awareness is a little bit like being naked.

You might not like what you see in the mirror, but at least you see yourself as you are. That gives you a shot at keeping what you want to keep and losing what you want to lose.  

When I stop for a few moments and look at my patterns of behavior, I ask myself: Why did I sit there and stuff my face with popcorn when I’m trying to lose weight? Well, because I’m bored, frustrated, frantically racing to beat a deadline … the list goes on.

When we become more self-aware, we can focus on improving our responses and be more productive.

How are you taking steps to become more self-aware? Share your own experiences!

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