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More than 80 percent of our actions are unconscious.
When we’re truly aware of our feelings and why we feel this way, only then can we truly understand and take charge of the challenges and desires in our lives.
We’re on this planet to grow and thrive. Moreover, our level of awareness is at the heart of our ability to flourish. As we become more aware, we expand the consciousness, understanding, compassion, and acceptance for the world. The best part of this growth is the freedom of being able to experience and embrace life exactly as it is.
What is awareness anyway?
We typically think of being aware through our human senses—touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, and smelling. And while each of these is important to our perception of the world and our relationships in it, awareness also includes the thoughts and feelings we experience from one moment to the next. When we’re aware of (and telling the truth about) how we’re feeling and what we’re doing, we can choose better responses.
As Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Having awareness about conscious and unconscious “fate” also provides better insights into others, and that’s good for our mental health. With this understanding, we see others acting out of their own pain. From that place of understanding, we may be inspired to rise above feelings of abandonment, rejection, jealousy, and despair, understanding that their actions or inactions aren’t personal.
Armed with awareness, you no longer have to take Aunt Maude’s sh*tty behavior personally because you understand she’s projecting her pain onto you, and you know it actually has nothing to do with you. From a place of understanding, you decrease your stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Self-awareness allows you to understand your own needs, desires, motivations, and why you do what you do. Here are four ideas to increase awareness:
1. Meditation: I really like author Dan Brule’s perspective: “Awareness allows us to get outside of our mind and observe it in action.” Meditation is observation that helps quiet and clear the mind, and it supports in connecting with a deep inner peace and understanding. During meditation, the goal is to silence the mental chatter that occurs all day long as well as quieting the external events or influences around you. Awareness goes within, increasing self-understanding of your true nature.
2. Doing your inner work: This means truly facing fears and transforming them to create space and freedom to live your life. In doing this, you release those fears and change negative thought patterns. To do that successfully, it’s essential to become aware of held emotions that have kept you imprisoned in pain and struggle within an old, worn-out story from your past. When you do your work, you get to keep the lesson and be free of the pain forever. You also release any blocks to truly loving yourself. Stories of, “I’m not good enough,” “My life should be different from what it is,” or “My life will be better when…” all keep you from being happy today.
3. Letting go of attachments: Whether they’re to people, material things, or to outcomes of desired things, letting go frees you from plummeting into unhappiness when life doesn’t go as planned.
4. Stop worrying about what other people think of you: Focus internally on what makes your heart happy. Too much attention on what other people think of you is a distraction from true awareness. When you rely on others to make you happy or confirm your worth, you’re giving away your power.
Awareness is a gradual process, as there are many things to learn about ourselves and the world we live in. Simply allowing life to unfold without trying to force it is a good way to go. In fact, we greatly accelerate our ability to grow and thrive when we don’t get attached to what our lives should look like. The real power lies in being a lover of truth.
Pay more attention to feelings than thoughts.
The more self-awareness we have, the easier it is to make choices that serve our highest good.
Yes, the truths we unearth may lead to hard choices, like ending an abusive relationship. On the other hand, leaving a relationship may be running from personal issues, while staying and facing challenges presents the real opportunity for growth. It’s important to pay attention to our feelings because our emotions are the real indicators of what’s up for us to heal.
I stayed in a disconnected relationship with my ex-husband for years. Finally, I decided to take personal responsibility for my own happiness. I realized I could no longer use his unhappiness as a reason for mine. In awareness, I learned a ton about myself, including letting go of pleasing others in an attempt to feel worthy.
The more we pay attention to our emotions and how we move through life, the more deeply we understand why we do the things we do. Only with awareness can we begin to make new choices that take us to where we want to be.
Here are some additional ways to increase and use awareness for effective decision making.
Moment to moment, take an inventory—of your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, habits, and behaviors while moving through your day. Take note of what feels right, what doesn’t feel right, what works, and what doesn’t.
Release thoughts of, “I have to change this now.” Instead, focus on seeing life as it is, including relationships, work, family, friends, and home. Reflect on how you came to make these choices or how you got to this place in your life. Release judgment of what life should or shouldn’t look like. Simply view the choices and outcomes as if watching a movie on a screen.
Take a deep breath, and feel into these words: “Even though I haven’t known how, I am opening to accept my life exactly as it is.” Through acceptance, we open to making new choices that are often internal before they get reflected in the external world.
Try on the following:
“I am opening to love, value and respect myself, even though ________ doesn’t love, value or respect me. I realize that as I am on my own path of authenticity, I will not be able to please everyone else. I am opening to know it is not my job to make others happy or to like me. I surrender and release the need for them to do so.”
Living with awareness doesn’t mean having all the answers or being free of challenges. Life is a process and will offer exactly what is needed to learn and grow along the way. Trusting the process means knowing life is offering us exactly what is needed to learn and grow.
I often ask clients questions to help them become more aware of their thoughts and feelings.
Here are three of my favorite questions to gauge self-awareness.
>> “How do I feel?”
>> “If I’m feeling tension, where is it in my body?”
>> “What is being triggered in me to feel this way?”
Having the courage to honestly answer these questions leads to greater self-understanding.
Awareness is essential for our growth and evolution. It will inevitably take us to places of discomfort, but let’s face it, comfort and happiness are not the same things. Awareness anchors us into a place of peace and understanding yourself. Commitment to doing our work and taking a deep dive into greater awareness, leads us to living a more courageous, expansive and juicy life. And that just feels good.