Self-awareness is arguably the holy grail of inner peace, expressly when you’re under pressure. But what is it? How do you unzip it?
As a teacher of self-awareness, I’ll be the first to shoehorn that it does not unchangingly come easy. Given our human instinct to resist whatever challenges us to grow and change, the journey to self-awareness often involves a struggle. I know mine sometimes does.
To be increasingly self-aware, I’ve had to cultivate a willingness to shoehorn I don’t have it all figured out and that I might not unchangingly be right, expressly when I finger really strongly that I am. I’ve had to make a point to squint at my reality increasingly objectively and shoehorn when the way I’m doing something is just not working for me anymore.
These admissions never come easily. But I will say that addressing my emotional reactivity has been essential to getting me to a place of greater self-awareness.
When I was a young mother, I spent years trying to protect my kids from the impact of the dysfunction virtually them. Outwardly, we looked like the perfect family who had it all. My husband and I were pretty skilled at managing the family’s image, but the real story unfolding inside the four walls of our home was a marriage buckling under the weight of inauthentic emotional reactions like shame, blame, and guilt.
We lived like this for decades. If you could undeniability it living.
For the longest time, I let my emotions run the show, relying on what felt like a satisfying reaction rather than reflecting on what was or wasn’t unquestionably working.
Firing off a sarcastic remark felt like I was stuff heard.
Pushing the vituperation on others felt like a solution.
Launching impulsively into action felt like the surest and fastest way to get the problem overdue me!
In the heat of the moment, a full-blown emotional reaction felt like it was protecting me. Ironically, all it unquestionably protected me from was self-awareness, and the transpiration and personal growth that depend on it!
Unaware that I was making the nomination to act out my reactions, I couldn’t see the lack of wisdom in it. Without the pebbles settled and the smoke cleared, the end result was nearly unchangingly the same: a truckload of pain, confusion, and an plane worthier mess.
By the time I mustered the valiance to seek a divorce, my children were adults. I knew it was time for a massive change, and I thought my newfound valiance would empower me to tropical the door on the powerful and rabble-rousing reactive emotions I had been running on for so long.
But it wasn’t easy.
As I gained increasingly and increasingly clarity, it became obvious to me: the reactivity I had make-believe out during my marriage was still surfacing plane without my divorce. As Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “Wherever you go, there you are!” Needless to say, this was a nonflexible fact to face.
By separating myself from an untenable situation, I thought my shame and guilt would disappear with it. Boy, was I wrong!
I still had a debilitating fear of uncertainty and faced enormous self-doubt well-nigh moving into the world on my own. I struggled with guilt and shame well-nigh my past life choices.
I had been vicarial out some very specific patterns for decades, and over that long stretch those patterns had become habitual. So, whenever I faced a stressful situation, I fell right when into those same old patterns.
The nonflexible truth was that, like the deep and gnarled roots of an old tree, these emotional patterns of reactivity weren’t coming out without real effort and determination.
A New Approach: The Practice
Eventually, it became well-spoken to me that if I wanted real transpiration in my life, I needed a new approach. And that new tideway became the fundamental practice of my program, the Inner Peace Blueprint, backed by a key Harvard study on the benefits of mindfulness.
Researchers found that when practitioners of mindfulness focused sensation on their physiological state, it led to improved emotional regulation, which led to an empowered sense of self.
So here is what I did:
Every time I felt myself getting hijacked by shame, guilt, self-pity, insecurity, or fear, I interrupted those reactions by relaxing my physical tension and focusing on my breathing. This is the most vital technique I used—the practice of posture and breath.
When I felt I couldn’t trust myself (or others), I would do the practice.
When insecurity hit me as I imagined stuff on my own without thirty-six years of marriage, I would do the practice.
When fear and guilt washed over me as I listened to my children talk well-nigh their own reactions to the divorce, I would do the practice.
Remembering to do the practice took a lot of discipline, which was really not that surprising given the fact I had been reacting emotionally for my unshortened life, getting stuck in my throne and going nowhere fast. My reactions were so familiar to me that they felt like who I was. They had wilt a tightly ingrained habit and really nonflexible to break.
Not challenging this habit, however, was simply no longer an option. And the practice was the weightier way I could see to get the job done, so I stuck with it. Every time I paused to relax my soul and breathe, I experienced myself calming down, plane if just a little. Over time, I started to see how all the little shit of wifely were subtracting up to a lot increasingly calm.
What I Learned Well-nigh Self-Awareness
With greater calm, greater self-awareness (which I pinpoint as “being worldly-wise to see what I’m really up to”) came pretty naturally.
I paid tropical sustentation to what I said when I was under pressure and asked myself: Was it constructive or not?
Whenever I did something to get the pressure overdue me and “make it stop!” I stopped to evaluate if what I did unquestionably helped. Or did it just dig the slum I was in that much deeper?
The practice afforded me the self-awareness to stop and consider my emotional state surpassing I opened my mouth. It moreover gave me the self-awareness to make sure I waited until I was wifely and well-spoken well-nigh what to do (or not do) surpassing proceeding.
Today, the practice is still my primary self-awareness tool considering it unchangingly brings me when to the now-moment. When I can focus my sustentation on my physical tension and release it through breath, I wilt increasingly enlightened of my emotional state and can largest regulate what I do and say as a result. This, to me, is the definition of self-empowerment.
Even when I lose sight of how my reaction is impacting and distorting my perception, behavior, and choices, I can be pretty sure that it is and that staying focused on calming lanugo surpassing I respond is unchangingly my weightier bet.
This new way of responding to my reactions with the practice helped me unravel the habit of vicarial out my reactivity and making things worse as a result. And this is what keeps me on a trajectory toward sustainable, lasting transformation.
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About Meg Coyle
Meg Coyle is a pioneer in the field of body-centered mindfulness, offering wisdom, tools, and practices that help midlife women reuse their conviction and restore inner peace. Her signature system, the Inner Peace Blueprint, changes the way the mind and emotions work, offering women a new set of responses to stress that truly support mental clarity and emotional calm, no matter what is happening in their lives. Access her free stress-mastery matriculation here.
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