Good self awareness can guide you into happy territory as each day goes by. It doesn’t happen overnight but it can start today, right now. Simply knowing that my current behaviours are driven by my past experiences is a great head start to improved self-awareness & happiness.
What sort of future do you want for yourself?
Good self awareness can guide you into happy territory as each day goes by. It doesn’t happen overnight but it can start today, right now.
Simply knowing that my current behaviours are driven by my past experiences is a great head start to improved self-awareness & happiness.
So for improved self-awareness here’s a set of questions for you:
How does my past affect me?What are my beliefs and values?Can I let go of the past & move forward?What are my thinking patterns?What are my behaviour patterns?What are my relationship patterns?
1. How does my past affect me?
Once you have this understanding you can more quickly nip your reaction in the bud. So your heart rate increases, you feel hot and panicky… STOP! Breathe deeply and remind yourself that this is merely your body reacting to a situation in the past and it is not about what is happening now. Your body is releasing chemicals and it is not about what your boss or partner is doing right now. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
2. What are my beliefs and values?
If you know that, for example, ‘security’ and ‘wanting to be liked’ are important values for you it will help with number 1, as it will explain why your reaction feels so big. It is understandable and our values are important to us. If you know that you have unhelpful beliefs like ‘I am unlovable’, ‘people will leave me’ and ‘something bad will happen sooner or later’ your life script will be based on this and you will be looking out for things that reinforce these beliefs. Our brains are very busy all day long and will only see what it is looking for, filtering out the stuff that is no use to it (next time you dismiss a compliment have a think about why you just did that). Knowing you are doing this is a huge step because you will start to notice that you are doing it and the speed with which you notice increases. You will get to the point where you notice it in real time, as it happens and squash the negative feelings and thoughts before they take hold. Sure your body will still release the adrenaline- we’ll never match the speed of our brain. We can feel it, understand it and become calm and rational, with practice.
3. Can I let go of the past & move forward?
You don’t have to be religious to forgive. Letting go of the past is really fundamental here. Part of understanding our past is understanding that people/ adults make mistakes. The adults who were part of you forming your beliefs and values had their own complicated pasts to make sense of and they are far from perfect. It’s done now but it is stopping you living a happy and fulfilling life. Talk about it or just think it through. Whatever helps you accept the past and start looking forward is worth your time and energy, it really is.
4. What are my thinking patterns?
Our brains are filtering all day- throwing out stuff that is no use to you…. so ‘You did a great job’ enters your ears and in the millisecond it takes to get to your brain has turned into ‘What are they after?’ Start allowing the good stuff in! Take a compliment. Be brave and check with your friend does s/he really mean that? Ask for specifics if it helps. Equally start blocking some of the crap that you’re letting in. When you feel like the pair across the office are bitching about you because they looked you up and down and started talking, challenge your thinking and suggest to yourself that they may be checking out your shoes and wondering where you got them from. EVEN IF you’re not convinced of that, move away from thinking about it and focus on something else. If you get negative thoughts about yourself or you start mind-reading what others are thinking STOP again and consider other options. If you’re thinking ‘I’m useless’ remind yourself of examples in your life that prove the exact opposite.
5. What are my behaviour patterns?
Behaviour patterns are formed on the back of our thinking (and feeling) patterns. Negative thoughts often become negative actions. Challenging our negative or unhelpful thinking should reduce the number of unhelpful behaviours. Simply start noticing what you are doing and ask what is that about? Is this response in line with the stimuli? Am I responding or am I reacting?
6. What are my relationship patterns?
Our relationships are formed around our behaviours, values, beliefs, etc If someone thinks they are unlovable and useless, so their brain is filtering away the positive stuff and taking in the negative, what sort of relationships will they be forming? If being around people who are nice to them does not fit their ‘life script’ (the plan that is created by early experiences that we then continue to follow and adhere to) they may distrust the person’s intentions and move away from them. Equally if our being is reinforced with feeling like we are a victim in life and feel bad about ourselves we will be drawn to those that collude with this view of ourselves. Then after a stream of bad relationships we are satisfied that ‘Yes, indeed the world is a bad place and people will hurt and leave me’ and ‘I am weak and easily hurt’. We may not recognise that we ourselves are choosing partners who put us down and are sabotaging any good stuff to create the inevitable crappy ending. Our (negative) life script however is satisfied and fulfilled.
Self-Awareness is everything in the pursuit of happiness. If you are not aware that you are doing something how can you change it? If you don’t change things how will your future be different to how things are now.
THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.
What sort of future do you want for yourself?