One big game of self-awareness
By Celine Wallace
Wellness Expert and Founder of Sattva Soul Retreats
Life is one big game of self-awareness, but self-awareness is very rarely mentioned or encouraged to delve into daily. Trending in today’s health and wellness culture are more narcissistic methods of self-inquiry, such as self-care, self-love, and self-discovery, which are all extremely important, but sometimes they are over-sensationalized by social media and fixated on in an over-saturated self-help market. None of these paths to wellness are necessarily improving our attitudes or behaviors towards each other. This is where problems generate, because if we are continually focusing on improving ourselves, but not how we interact with the world, each other, and what we contribute to it, then we’re heading down a narcissistic path. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘whoa, self-care isn’t narcissism’ and you’re right, it's not - to a certain point. Think of it like this, we can take as much ‘me’ time in the world as we want, we can write down our goals, do yoga, eat plant-based diets (and we should, all of these things are great for us) but these efforts are purely focused on ourselves. And, unfortunately, making vision boards and doing yoga does not make us more compassionate, empathic, loving, kind or generous human beings.
That’s where self-awareness comes in; we can use our self-awareness to compliment our self-care, with our self-awareness helping us to control our external world by observing our emotions, behaviors and positively using our actions. It’s kind of crazy there isn’t a more significant emphasis on self-awareness, but in today’s trillion-dollar wellness industry if people are more self-aware then they’re less likely to buy into people’s nonsense, and for a trillion-dollar wellness industry they are not about to encourage any behavior that’s making it less profitable. Instead if companies motivate people to remain ignorant by selling whatever is the latest wellness fad, convincing them, they’ll live a better life if they drink a trending juice cleanse, instead of adjusting their thought process they’ll make more money. In most businesses money, not ethos, are unfortunately what is focused on and, the cold and hard truth is, most people would rather do a juice cleanse than adjust their mentality. So, businesses, social media, and advertising companies use this and tell the consumer that they can still saunter around with a bad attitude, but if they go to yoga, listen to an Oprah Soul Session podcast, skip morning coffee for their Matcha latte, and drink celery juice then they’re winning at life, because then they're ‘doing it right.’ And we all know we want to do it right, whether that’s our job, our relationships, or our wellness regime.
Let’s pause here for a moment and really take that into consideration, we want to do things ‘right’; come on, you know you do and thats normal; we all want to be good at what we’re doing on a subliminal level. But, if we want to do things right and create a rich and fulfilling life, why not impact not only ourselves but our loved ones and society with our actions? Have you ever surprised someone, whether that’s just showing up with a coffee, giving a stranger a smile, or bringing around a gift - it could be anything, but at that moment you’ve been so filled up with love just by making that person happy? You know what I’m talking about? It feels good! That’s kind of how self-awareness feels and it starts to fill your cup in unexpected ways that you could never imagine, but you have to decide to invest your time first. I like to look at life like a marathon, not a sprint, because then you’re not opposed to taking your time and letting the universe unfold naturally. This also offers fresh perspective, that if you’re in it life for marathon, the long run, then what's the harm in investing in a little self-study? You’ll gain a happier life with healthier relationships and who doesn’t want that? I know I do. Now, if you thought you were being self-aware, then I commend you, but I know some of us who aren’t quite sure and that’s okay too, so then here’s some basic principles to self-evaluate and see.
• What is self-awareness?
Self–awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them at the moment. Here’s an extreme, but relevant example, I’m sure once in your life you might have heard someone yelling at a cab driver, or being rude to a waitress and you can clearly tell they have lost control at that moment and therefore, all self-awareness. It’s very easy to quickly say ‘Oh, I would never do that’ and assume that we are self-aware, but it’s helpful to have a relative scale for awareness in any situation. You can also see examples of people’s level of self-awareness everywhere, just sit at a café or on a park bench for 10 minutes, and people watch. Within minutes you can tell peoples levels of consciousness, or unconsciousness, by their mannerisms, body language, the tone of voice and all of these things that we do to outwardly express ourselves.
• Why Develop Self-Awareness?
As you develop self-awareness, you can make changes to your thoughts and about the interpretations you make in your mind. Changing the arguments in your mind that allows you to change your emotions. Self-awareness is also one of the critical characteristics of Emotional Intelligence, which is basically essential if you’re hoping to achieve success in any area of your life. It’s also the first step in creating what you want and self-mastery because it allows you to focus your attention, your emotions, reactions, personality and behavior in the direction where you want to go in life. Once you have this knowledge about yourself and how you react it allows you to see where your thoughts and emotions are taking you, a rare quality most people don’t utilize, or are just too lazy to try. Whereas if you’re driven by emotions, you’ll likely have little to no control over the outcomes of your daily life and difficulty making decisions. No thanks!
• How does Self-Awareness affect my Relationships?
Relationships are easy until there’s some kind of negative emotional conflict to deal with. This is the same whether you are at work or in your personal life. When you can change the interpretation in your mind of what you think, then you can change your emotions and shift the emotional quality of your relationships and open up entirely new possibilities in your life. Having a clear understanding of your thought and, behavior patterns helps you understand other people in your life too. This ability to empathize then facilitates better personal and professional relationships. Sound simple? - It is.
• How to develop Self-Awareness?
To start becoming self-aware, you need to tap into a state of heightened awareness, which is when the observer becomes observed. Think of it like this, if you have ever been in a car accident (hopefully not), but you may have experienced everything happening in slow motion and noticed details of your thought process and the event. This is a state of heightened awareness, and with practice, we can learn to use these types of heightened states and see new opportunities for interpretations in our thoughts, emotions, and conversations. Basically, harnessing our sense of awareness creates the opportunity to make changes in behavior and beliefs, which will then alter the course of your life. It isn’t learned from reading a book – I wish it were that easy! When you read a book, you are focusing your attention on the conceptual ideas in the book. You can develop an understanding of the concepts of self-awareness from a book, but it’s not the same. With your attention in a book, you are practicing not paying attention to your own behavior, emotions and personality. Basically, self-awareness is something developed over time when you pay attention to your expressions of thought, feelings, and action.
• What will happen as I become more self-aware?
When you become more self-aware, you instinctively begin to see aspects of your personality and behavior that you didn’t notice before. If you have an emotional reaction where you feel angry or frustrated, you might notice a build up of thoughts and small triggers that led to those emotions. You’ll also discover moments when you can change the interpretations in your mind, or not believe what you are thinking. In this heightened awareness, you instinctively make better choices in your thought process long before an emotional reaction or destructive behavior. Try to be gentle with yourself through this phase and don’t judge yourself too harshly, as you’ll probably observe some behaviors or thoughts you don’t like. You may also start to become more sensitive to those around you, as you watch yourself you’ll begin noticing behaviors in others too. This can also be a massive wakeup call if you’re realizing if the person around you is healthy or toxic for you to be around. If you think they’re having a toxic impact then you can talk to them and work on the relationship or decide to move on, because let’s be honest, the last thing anyone needs is to have an unconscious triggering relationship in their lives.
Hopefully, with just a few of these basics you understand a bit more about self-awareness, how to incorporate more of it into your life, and potentially, see how life is really just one big game of self-awareness that you can choose to take control of at any moment. Honestly, it’s as simple as this saying; a reasonable man or woman adapts himself or herself to the world, an unreasonable man persists and tries to adjust the world to them. Are you adapting or going against the grain? Let’s take that bad attitude, walking around like the world hurt us and put a smile on our dial and decide today that the world is full of surprises and that we're going to be one of them. Bring on the random acts of kindness!