The term ‘self awareness’ has really been on my mind lately. It is something that I have wanted to understand on a deeper level, because I believe authenticity is becoming increasingly important in a world where we have the ability to ‘portray’ an idealistic or curated life very easily. It makes me wonder about what is going to be important in the future. ‘Pretty images’ are becoming boring, and ‘real, honest, truthful content’ is becoming what everyone is seeking to relate and connect. The beauty of this, is that we are being challenged to actually be vulnerable, let walls down, and face our own shadows.
Where this leads me to is self awareness, and how we can deeper cultivate our own sense of character, emotion and identity, in a world that is hyper ‘image’ focused, and hasn’t allowed us to feel safe in these ‘real and honest’ places before. For our own emotional health, we need to be able to really understand ourselves on this level, so we have the resilience to deal with challenging situations. If we aren’t taught how to feel strong and safe within ourselves, over time we let challenges define who we are, rather than having the capacity to deal with challenges from a place of understanding and resilience. Self awareness is important as it expands our capacity to deal with situations, without being a victim of circumstance. We are able to take a step back from situation and see it for what it is, take the lessons and leave the rest, without the overwhelm or discomfort controlling us.
Stay with me here. ‘Self awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognise oneself as an individual separate from the environment, situation and from other individuals.’ - Merriam Webster. It is the space between the situation we see in front of us ‘stimulus’ and our response (fear or love based reaction). The space between these two places, is the observer, where we dwell in a space of choice and perspective. In this in-between space, our subconscious mind wants to automatically respond from similar past events, in order to keep us feeling safe or protected. For example, if we are at a work meeting and our presentation doesn’t get the positive feedback we were hoping for, the subconscious immediately offers a fear-based reaction, we experience this situation as ‘rejection’ and the correlating emotions are released; pain, sadness, fight or flight response. The subconscious mind related this experience to the ‘rejection’ when your Father didn’t congratulate your prize in primary school, and the same emotions were released in order to keep you small and safe – a survival mechanism that we have hardwired into us.
Learning how to cultivate and expand self awareness, gives the power back to the observer, where we can choose our reaction from a place of confidence, truth and identity rather than past subconscious conditionings.
1. Breathwork (Pranayama), Wim Hof or Conscious Breathing
Breath as a tool is by far the most powerful way to bring self awareness and space to the conscious mind. It is also the fastest way to gain control over the ‘monkey chatter’ and gives the power back to the observer. From creating this space we can it, notice, and over time subtleties become more prominent. Subtleties in our emotional mind and our physical, external environment. Our minds can be our best friend, and also our worst enemy. From my experience, building a connection with our mind through breath can be life changing, especially with a long term commitment. Committing to a small, regular practice is key.
Check out this 5 minute Nadi Shodana practice to balance left and right hemispheres of the brain.
2. Meditation (Silent retreat, Guided Practice, Yoga Nidra practice)
Choose the meditation that you are most drawn to. My favourite way to connect back in after a busy day is the following; Sit in a quiet space, set timer for 10 minutes, and just notice what comes up. Don’t force thoughts out or in, just observe and let go. When you simply notice what clutter wants to be released, it lets us know what is sitting under the surface of the mind. Let the mind rinse out pressing matters, and sit and indulge with the silence when it comes. The more silence there is, the most space you are creating for self awareness.
3. Observation, notice yourself, catch yourself before responding and notice where your mind goes
In situations that you know are challenging, for example; Family dinner with in-laws, a challenging work dynamic or a tricky friend situation. Go into it with an open mind of challenging what your subconscious reactions are. Notice if your response is from love or fear, and notice if you are choosing your reaction. Are you letting past pains direct your current engagements? Are you letting your subconscious rule your mind? Just observe, and ask what your confident, safe and happy self would respond with.
4. Switch off, have space
Turn off everything. TV, phone, music, activities. Stop doing and talking. If possible, have complete silence from people and stimulus. Just sit in the space, be with yourself, and honour that this time is sacred. It is a form of meditation, don’t let yourself overthink or ruminate, just observe what comes up. Journal, lie in the sun, watch the rain, connect with nature. This time is a beautiful way to connect with yourself, to build self-awareness.
5. Self worth: Notice where do you self sabotage, and where does your confidence lie? Is your subconscious mind tricking you into thinking you need to play it small?
Often we are confident in some areas, and over compensate in areas that we feel are lacking. We don’t like people seeing our weak spots, so we build facades around that parts that are vulnerable, and pretend things are great, but it only takes a little poke to that sore spot to trigger a fear based reaction. Take time to notice where you are vulnerable. What parts of yourself are tender or lacking in love? Where do you avoid confrontation, where do you pretend things are okay? And what childhood situations are triggered? On the flipside, where are you confident? Notice how you show up in these areas too.
This leads to the next questions; ‘Ok, so if I start becoming the observer, build self awareness, and create space between the stimulus and my reaction, how do I raise my confidence? How does this lead to a greater sense of self and empowerment?
Where we dwell in consciousness, is where truly dwell. When we create mental capacity, we give ourself (the creator) the power to choose from a place of authenticity and self-worth. It allows our truth and identity to be in control, rather than our subconscious. When we combine this practice of self awareness and space, with boundaries, self care and leaning into what makes us happy, we create new neural patterns of natural confidence and expand what we are worthy of. We attract experiences from where feel truly worthy, and raise our vibration.
Would love to hear how you experience self awareness and what works for you, comment below.
Stay tuned for my next blog post: 5 Ways to Raise Self Worth.