Of course I'm aware of myself. Are you sure? Often life gets so busy we run around making decisions, trying to get one last thing accomplished before the next thing on the agenda, that we really don't realize what is going on inside. We go and go until all of a sudden we notice we are anxious, worried, stressed, hurt, frustrated, upset, or even angry, Then we either blame the last thing that happen or the last person who was in our path. We wrongly assume it's our bad day and all the things that went wrong that are making our lives miserable.
A better way is to recognized what is going on before our minds retaliate from the pressure with an emotional outburst. There are 5 secrets to self-awareness, each with a particular purpose to guide you to be intune with your own thoughts and what is going on around you to affect how you feel. They are:
- Learn your symptoms.
- Know your triggers.
- Be conscious of your physical health.
- Pause for cause or mindfulness.
- Analyze your thoughts.
Learn your symptoms when you are feeling overwhelmed or not coping well with what life is throwing at you. What are the warning signs you notice? We each have different ones, but some of the common ones friends have shared with me are:
- feeling rushed or actually rushing around.
- self-talk such as "I can't take one more thing", "How many things will go wrong today", "I can't believe this keeps happening to me", "It's so unfair", or other messages you tell yourself.
- pre-emotions or the start of negative emotions slowly creeping in.
Know your triggers. What tends to get your goat? What makes you less likely to cope? What sets you off? Again, these will vary from person to person. For me, it's little things that I do wrong or forget to do. As a recovering perfectionist, I am very hard on myself and when the cake is not as fluffy as I like, then the vegan butter is gone and I only have regular so I have to invite a substitute, then the dog tracks mud onto the floor I just washed and I don't have time to fix it, then... you get the idea. For others it's when a certain person repeatedly does or says a particular thing, or when the boss asks for a particular task to be done. Think about what are your triggers?
Be conscious of your physical health. Are you hungry, tired, or hurting? Adding a negative physical symptom can push us over the edge sooner than at times where we are feeling on top of the world. Sometimes physical symptoms warn us we are doing too much or we are not coping well with life events. Do you get headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain? Are you tired today, or more tired than usual? Have you skipped a meal? Being aware of your physical body helps to be aware of what is going on in your mind.
You may have heard the term 'mindfulness' around these days. This is a state of being mindful or aware of what is going on right now. When you notice you are not coping well, or you see a trigger coming, pause to see how it's affecting you. You can even pause for cause. Just take a time out once in awhile through the day to check in with yourself. Is anything causing you to be thinking negatively, do you have any physical symptoms, are you starting to feel one of your symptoms. Taking 30 seconds will not affect your schedule. Well, actually maybe it will. Maybe if you take that 30 seconds now you'll prevent an emotional system crash that will ruin an hour or two, or even the rest of your day.
Analyze your thoughts is our last of the 5 secrets of self-awareness. Just like it takes time to get to know a new person, we need time to learn about ourselves. In fact, meeting a new person is sometimes easier because we have questions we often ask to get to know them, where are you from, how long have you lived here, etc. We can also ask ourselves questions to know what state we are in right now. How am I feeling right now? Is there something I need to let go of or deal with? What am I thinking about? The more you talk to yourself, the more you get to know yourself.
Being self-aware can prevent you from having a meltdown or getting burned out. It can help you to see the bus coming before you get run over so you can get out of your own way and have a happy day.