Have you ever been in a really crowded Subway/Metro or a packed elevator at quitting time?
Your awareness is heightened in these extremely close quarters. You may notice your elbow touching someone, or your bag bumping awkwardly around you. You may notice the silence, or the noise, the whirr of the machine, the clanking, the quiet conversations, a burst of laughter, maybe even your own breathing? You may notice the scent of freshly washed hair, or aroma of someone overdue for a shower. “Trapped” in this moment, you may even begin to notice your own thoughts, as you shift internally into self-awareness.
Shifting to Self-Awareness Improves Your Life
Your ability to shift from “simple” external awareness to internal self-awareness can improve your life. And simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple only means being able to readily notice life as it is happening around you. Many people live life totally unaware, they don’t experience the crowded Subway/Elevator scene. Many are consumed by their thoughts, not aware of their surroundings, or self in the least. However, for those of you who do notice life happening – a stunning sunset, or cherry blossoms in bloom, a child who needs a wink, or a stranger who smiles back, this article is for you. Learning to notice your thoughts is big. Learning to recognize how your thoughts impact you, and those around, you that’s really big. Learning to shift from external awareness to internal self-awareness will help you improve your effectiveness, your happiness, your success, and your life.
Self-Awareness in Daily Life
Your thinking, including your attitude and mood, shape how you show up in the world. Think about this…
- It’s been one of those days. You don’t have the energy to deal with anything else. Arriving home, you find your kids making a lot of noise (playing, or arguing?). How you are thinking in that moment will impact what you do next.
- Take an event, like an upcoming visit with your mother-in-law. Are you looking forward to it, or do you dread it? Will your feelings impact how you act, react or interact with her?
- What happens to your thinking when meeting your daughter’s new boyfriend, who has a large tattoo. How might you act or react? Do you think your daughter will notice? How will that impact your relationship with her?
Your ability to recognize your thinking, as well as your attitude, mood or feelings in the moment, impacts you and those around you.
Son – 1, Mom – 0
A mom shared this discussion with her teenage son: “We were talking about a class in which he was struggling, and might even fail, although the semester was only at the half-way point. My automatic ‘judgmental’ thinking was triggered and I completely lost my sense of ‘self’, reacting without thinking. Instead of encouraging, I responded with ‘hard work and effort are the solution’. Instead of listening, I talked about consequences. And instead of connecting – he blurted out – I can feel the disappointment in your voice. It stopped me cold. My lack of self-awareness in the moment had stopped our communication completely and prevented me from having a real conversation with my son.” The mom went on to say, “This is not the person I aspire to be.”
Another person shared their insights about how being more self-aware helped them handle life situations better. He told me, “It’s difficult being the guy with the most experience and having to train young new managers. It’s not easy to admit it, but I made it hard on them. Harder than it had to be. But, once I began to hear myself, I realized I was my own worst enemy, and everything changed. I now walk into meetings thinking about listening and supporting, instead of talking. It’s made all the difference.”
Self-Awareness Takes Practice
It’s great when a person realizes their lack of self-awareness in the moment. It’s even better when they recognize how it may be impacting their relationships. But improving self-awareness isn’t easy. There are a lot of distractions competing for our time and attention. It takes effort to tune in to our thinking, to reflect on how we are impacting others, and to take the next step by doing something about it. Like learning any new skill, becoming more self-aware takes practice. It’s like going to the gym to build muscles. Slowly over time, by paying more attention to your thoughts, feelings, and reactions, you will begin to strengthen your self-awareness muscles. And little by little, you will begin to see the benefits. Practicing the healthy skill of self-awareness is not only good for you, but it will improve your relationship with others, and will help you become the person you want to be.
Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach. She guides individuals, and organizations in Cognitive Self-Leadership to think better, work smarter, stress less, achieve more, succeed higher, and love greater, by unlocking their potential to achieve whatever matters most. Please SHARE and FOLLOW Kristin for more insights, ideas, updates and articles at: www.YourInsightCoach.com/blog.