In last week’s blog, The Power of Pause, I focused on pausing, instead of reacting when faced with a difficult situation; taking that step back to evaluate what you need to do or say to mitigate the situation. Today I’ll define and explain how to start practicing awareness.
Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look. Marcus Aurelius
How often do you take time to look inside yourself – to be the observer in your own life? You work, take care of others, run kids here and there, shop, etc., but you spend little or no time figuring out what’s important to you.
Have you lost site of what excites you, gives you joy, or what you’re passionate about? Have you decided what you want and need isn’t important anymore? Or do you think about those things, but you don’t know where to begin or how to get in touch with them?
Before I knew about awareness…
I remember in my abusive marriage how desperate I felt. I reacted at the slightest provocation from my husband which was a protective response. I’d start the fight before he could accuse me of some ridiculous lie, or criticize me. It was hell on earth and I always looked like the trouble maker. I didn’t know how to get out of this vicious cycle.
If I’d had the tools on how to pause before a difficult situation, how to be aware of my own feelings and frustrations and nurture them, I wouldn’t have acted that way. Since there was so much dysfunction, it seemed impossible to get out of the situation.
Do you react quickly to your marriage or relationship difficulties and you can’t understand why? I’ve been there and I felt hopeless. Practice self-awareness, and it will help you get back to you. Paying attention to your emotions and pausing before responding will improve your life. You will get clarity and be in a better space to decide what right actions to take.
Where to begin
Where to begin can seem overwhelming in your busy and chaotic life. That’s why I’m going to give you a few simple practices to get back to the real you.
Let’s define awareness
Awareness starts when you wake up to yourself. You stop, pause, and become an observer of your life. You take time to discover what your emotions are. Maybe you’ve turned them down so low you barely recognize your frustration, sadness, insecurities and even joy and happiness. You have to take time to reflect and get to know yourself.
I love this definition from an article called What is Awareness? Awareness is “Be alert and have another look!” That’s it. This is all we need to focus on. We are alert that there are illusions that cloud our awareness and we take another look to investigate them. Sounds simple, but you may be out of practice and so I’m giving you some tools to help get you started.
I found a great way to start practicing awareness in a book called High Performance Habits, by Brendon Burchard. He said simply to find a quiet place and take a 2-5 minute break in between activities at work, home or wherever. This allows you to decompress from the last task and prepare for the next.
When I worked for the state and took time for these mini “pauses” throughout my day, I felt calm and relaxed. I also had feelings pop up that I didn’t even realize I had. Maybe someone had upset me, or maybe they paid me a compliment, or maybe I was stressed about a deadline. These were things that would have gone unnoticed and would have popped up later in some unhealthy way if I hadn’t taken a time out.
At times, when my days were hectic and I didn’t get those mini pauses, I decided on the drive home I’d turn off the radio, or any other “listening” distraction and examine my day. The same thing happened. This gave me time to examine my feelings about how the day went, the things I needed to do the next day or maybe even a personal conversation that had affected me in some way. This helped release the day and focus on my after work plans.
Taking time to observe your feelings and reactions gives you clarity and when you are clear on what is happening inside, you can make decisions that are good for you instead of letting circumstances, or other people do it for you.
Meditating helps you develop awareness
Meditation helps you develop awareness. I’ve been meditating off and on for years, but since I started working from home, on my blog, I take two to three meditation breaks a day. I’ve mentioned this before, but Insight Timer is a FREE app with over 45,000 FREE meditations. You can select any amount of time and meditate your heart out. Meditating has taught me to realize when I need to take a break and get refocused. I also feel sharper mentally and the bonus – it can help slow aging, help with depression and improve brain and immune function, according to an article called: Can Meditation Slow the Aging Process
Simply put, take a step back from your busy life, take time to observe what is happening and get to know yourself better. You can ask yourself who are you really? What do you like? What do you not like? How do you feel? Do you ever take stock of your emotions? Do you ever take time to observe how you feel physically? Jot them down in a journal which also helps you observe and discover more about the real you. These are things you can become aware of when you: “be alert and take another look.” Become a participant in your own life now that you know how to start practicing awareness.
Define yourself! Examine your life and start the path to embracing your authentic self. It will be the most exciting journey ever! And you have only one life to live so get started now!
I have a cancer treatment doctor who I absolutely adore. She really is interested in me as a human being and my health. She was asking me about my blog, and I said it was going great, but I wished I’d started sooner. She said: Kathy, I talk to people who never started living their life and now they deeply regret it. After I left, I reflected on her job, treating cancer she sees patients who are at the end of their lives – getting cancer unexpectedly perhaps. That made me think how lucky I truly am to have even started living the life I want. This article could be your wake up call.
If you saw the movie Lady Bird you may recognize this conversation. When I heard it, it touched my heart. Paying attention to who you are is learning to love yourself.
- Sister Sarah Joan: You clearly love Sacramento.
- Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson: I do?
- Sister Sarah Joan: You write about Sacramento so affectionately and with such care.
- Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson: I was just describing it.
- Sister Sarah Joan: Well it comes across as love.
- Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson: Sure, I guess I pay attention.
- Sister Sarah Joan : Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?
- From the IMDb website
Pay attention to you! Take mini pauses throughout your day, get Insight Timer where they have mediations starting from 2 minutes through hours if you like. They have a 7 day beginning mediation class and it’s so awesome. It can get you started in as little as 12 minutes a day. And get a journal -write your thoughts and emotions down – get to know the real authentic you!
See you next Thursday for more authenticity tools and news. Leave a comment below or send me an email and tell me about your authenticity journey.