What’s Blocking Your Happiness: Self-Awareness
Happy February, everyone! I love this month, it’s always so full of luuurvvv (sorry, love, I just like to say it weirdly sometimes). I always say that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day because we should be spreading the love around every day, but I guess it is nice to make one day extra special. Just be sure to keep on lovin’ the rest of the year too, especially yourself! 😉 Ok, so self-awareness, let’s talk about it and how a lack of it will majorly block your happiness, yo (and I def don’t want that for you!).
I’ve been wanting to do a series of blog posts on what I feel are the most common factors that limit our happiness and hold us back from living our best life because if we can pinpoint what it is that’s holding us back, we can take the necessary steps to change it. What limits our happiness is different from person to person, however, there are definitely a few themes that we all seem to struggle with and I want to talk about them so we can kick those things to the curb. First up, is self-awareness.
Self-Awareness…What exactly does it mean?
I really like good ol’ Wikipedia’s definition. It’s simple and to the point but clearly differentiates it from other similar terms that people might confuse it with: “Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. It is not to be confused with consciousness… consciousness is a term given to being aware of one’s environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that awareness.”
Self-awareness isn’t something I was really even aware of two years ago. Sure, I’d heard the word before, but I never cared to understand what it meant or how it affected me. Not going to lie, I thought self-awareness was just for people who were super into yoga, meditation and spirituality – like “enlightened” people, you know? While I’ve definitely become more into these topics myself over the past year, I’ve come to realize that you don’t have to be an enlightened yogi to appreciate self-awareness. Becoming self-aware is something that benefits every single person, no matter your passions or lifestyle. Personally, I find it so important that it should be taught in school.
People like to get all philosophical and spiritual when talking about self-awareness and how to actually practice it, but really it’s quite simple. Being self-aware just means paying attention. That’s it. It means you’re making a conscious effort, or purposefully, paying attention to your thoughts, actions, reactions, emotions, general mood, etc. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Related Post: What’s Blocking Your Happiness: Self Confidence
How a lack of self-awareness limits your happiness
What I’ve come to realize after starting to practice my own self-awareness is that when you’re not self-aware, you don’t feel in control of your life. At least, looking back that’s how I feel. I remember feeling out of control, like a passenger in my own life, not the pilot. I remember feeling like life was flying by so fast and I had no way of knowing how to slow it down or make it flow the way I wanted it to. And as you can imagine, those feelings were limiting my happiness.
At the time though, I just thought it was standard for everyone to feel that way. I thought that my level of happiness was just normal – that it was normal to feel pretty happy but also know at the same time that there was more happiness out there that was just out of my reach because I didn’t know how to get there. And the truth is, it is normal. It is average to feel average about your happiness. But why, WHY, would you want your level of happiness to be average?
I read somewhere recently that in a study about happiness (I’ll have to find this and post the link, sorry I didn’t save it!) when participants were asked how happy they were overall, the average answer was 7 out of 10. That seems pretty good, pretty normal right? I think that’s where I was, a 6 or 7 out of 10. That’s not bad! BUT, BUT – it could be a 10. There are people out there, plenty of them, living at a level of 10! Why wouldn’t you want to strive for that? How much better would life be at a 10?? Seriously, I want you to stop and think about it for a moment. Just give yourself one minute to imagine what life at a level 10 happiness would be like for you.
Since becoming more self-aware and just starting this inner reflection, soul-alignment process, I would rate my overall happiness as a 9 out of 10. And I have to tell you, it feels amazing (not to like brag or anything!). I’m just really happy – and I haven’t even reached my goals yet. I’m just able to enjoy my journey and process towards my goals so much more than I was before. The great thing is, you are closer to this than you might realize. It might seem far off, it might seem impossible to get to right now, but I promise, it’s not. It was just one year ago that I started to practice self-awareness so it’s closer than you think and you don’t have to go on any long spiritual retreats to get there.
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To sum it up, when you are self-aware, you are in control of your life. Not only are you in control, but you feel in control and with that feeling of control you can do anything you want. You can change something you don’t like about your life, you can decide not to do things that don’t make you feel good, you can choose to participate more in things that do make you happy and you will know exactly why you are making these decisions.
With self-awareness you are an observer of your actions, thoughts and reactions and as an observer you get to choose how you respond to things. You get to choose if what you’re observing about yourself aligns with your true self, with the person you want to be, with your soul.
When you are self-aware, you have a much deeper understanding of your true self and can make decisions that reflect the person you want to be and truly are.
And that is some super powerful soul shit right there and I promise, it will bring you more happiness.
Signs you’re not self-aware
How do you know if you’re self-aware or not? I feel like this is another one of those, when you know, you know type answers. Like trust me, if you’re not sure if you’re self-aware or not, thennnn you’re probably not. But that’s ok! It’s just an opportunity for you to grow right now! 🙂
Here are a few signs that you’re not self-aware that I’m borrowing from TheSelfAwarenessGuy.com (who better, right?).
- You always feel off-balance
- You can’t seem to control your emotions: You’re angry, or sad, or scared a lot of the time
- You do things to not feel your emotions
- You have unresolved issues in your life that affect you and others adversely
- You feel like you’re living life as someone else
- You don’t know who you really are deep inside
- There is a lot of conflict in your life, within yourself and with others
- You feel like you’re not following your true path in life
- You’re unhappy with how your life is going
- You listen to others instead of listening to your inner voice
- You don’t feel in control of your life and the speed at which it’s moving
I bolded all the ones that I personally experienced and I added that last one at the end because it was a big one for me. Reading through these it’s amazing to realize that I’ve overcome all of these in less than a years time. Sure, there are still times that I feel off balance and I’m not saying I’m 100% self-aware all the time, far from it actually. But I do feel in control of my life, I do feel like I know who I am and what my path is. I feel happy with how my life is going and I listen to myself and my inner voice now much more instead of listening to other people.
Who knew that self-awareness could bring so much clarity and happiness into life!? I certainly didn’t…until I did it myself. I think self-awareness is something you can always improve upon and if I’m only at the beginning of my journey towards being self-aware, imagine what is going to come the better I get at it. Not going to lie here, I’m pretty excited.
How to increase your self-awareness
Ok, so all of this sounds great, but now you actually want to get started, right? Like, how the F do I actually become self-aware, Ali? In theory, it’s quite simple. As I mentioned, it’s just choosing to pay attention. That’s it. Start putting effort every day into paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, mood, actions, and reactions.
In practice, it’s more difficult – easier said than done, right? In a sense you have to actively retrain your mind not to do things it’s spent its whole life doing. That’s where it get’s difficult, because it takes practice, patience and yes, will power.
You have to retrain your mind to observe rather than run on autopilot.
You have to retrain your mind to stop and think “why am I feeling this emotion right now” before acting.
You have to retrain your mind to live in the present, not the past or future.
You have to be disciplined in a world and society that doesn’t value being present and being self-aware. You have to be different. Find people who are on a similar journey, either online or in person (hey, reach out to me even, I swear I’m nice!) because it will make your practice easier and you’ll feel more supported.
I’ll leave you with some wise words from Eckhart Tolle to help you better understand how you can become self-aware. And if you still want some help, be sure to download my printable Self-Awareness worksheet down below. I outline some helpful self-awareness tips and practices along with some areas you might get stuck.
Be present as the watcher of your mind — of your thoughts and emotions as well as your reactions in various situations. Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or person that causes you to react. Notice also how often your attention is in the past or future. Don’t judge or analyze what you observe. Watch the thought, feel the emotion, observe the reaction. Don’t make a personal problem out of them. You will then feel something more powerful than any of those things that you observe: the still, observing presence itself behind the content of your mind, the silent watcher. – Eckhart Tolle
Want to learn how to become more self-aware? Don’t leave without picking up a free copy of my Self-Awareness workbook! Get it right here:
Now tell me in the comments – What are some of the signs that you struggled with when you weren’t self-aware, or what are you struggling with right now? Let us know how you’ve overcome them with self-awareness! 🙂