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Self-Awareness

Self Awareness

 

Self Awareness is one of those ‘things’ that seems pretty simple, but in practice is actually somewhat difficult. Some people like Gary Vaynerchuk (he’s just more vocal about it) seem to have an innate ability to sense where they are internally and know how to steer themselves without hesitation. Most of us have difficulty staying focused on a task never mind having a refined internal compass that points true north!

I’ve been a respiratory therapist for 7 years. Throughout that time I’ve been confronted with challenges that have pushed me into some very interesting places. I remember the first time I realized the importance of what I was about to do. I called my mom, I was 19 at the time, and remember saying “Mom! I’m only 19 and I’m about to have someone’s life in my hands! They could be my grandmother!!”

It was pretty intense as a young man to have that epiphany. Yet that would not be possible without Self Awareness. Think of it as your internal navigation of thoughts and feelings that highlight certain pathways in your brain.

Example: You are walking along day dreaming, and a friend comes up to you. They’re the infamous ‘close talker’. It’s a hot day and their breath smells as they talk 2 inches from your face. Your internal navigation aka Self Awareness is sending off alarms to back away or end this conversation!! You may or may not be aware this is how you are feeling or acting but you wiggle your way away from close talker friend and continue your day.

Cultivation.

That’s easy! Be aware! Of yourself!!

See, that wasn’t so hard was it?

… bad joke… sorry.

Here it is, no steps just a process. Think of it as a daily practice that you can do in a few minutes at your desk, practice with your kids, sit on a bench in a park. Or do it when you wake up. I’ll be honest, it’s somewhat based on a meditative process called mindfulness. This was first brought to light by Buddha, a long long time ago. #Starwarsreference!

This was then taught to the healthcare community by Jon Kabat-Zinn. His background is too long to communicate here (follow the link) but basically self awareness is based on being mindful and non-judgemental about the way you feel in a given moment. You pay specific attention, on purpose, in the present moment to your thoughts and feelings.

Ok I’ve beaten that horse.

Interpretation.

Noticing how you feel is one thing. Interpreting those thoughts and feelings is another, and that, in my opinion, is where most of the practice comes in. If you feel sad and you’re doing the self awareness thingy you may not know why you are feeling sad. For me if I have a blue feeling I might need vitamin D, I might need sleep, I might need to exercise or get off the computer, I may just need to talk about something.

You get it? Just because you recognize the thought/feeling doesn’t mean you know how to deal with it.

Practice.

This is where you’ll start to shine. When you start to practice being mindful aka Self Aware you can then practice understanding the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. A good way to clarify is by writing them down or maybe trying something that you think will help. Example, me being sad I take a vitamin D supplement. If I feel better I know what to associate that particular sad feeling with.

The best way to continue to grow is by continuing to practice, and dive into the thoughts and feelings. Do some research behind your brain, be curious about what your body is doing. Be aware of the situations that trigger the thoughts and feelings you are inspecting. That’s another level of awareness but very worth the pursuit.

Frustration.

If you aren’t IMMEDIATELY understanding and noticing your thoughts, feelings, and what’s triggering and how to fix them situation don’t be frustrated! Some people are more sensitive to this process than others.

It DOES NOT!! I repeat DOES NOT mean you can’t do it. You just have to work harder and find others to help you understand the process that’s best for you.

 

As always I’ll be here!

Your Guide – Jay

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