One of the greatest practices for enhancing self-awareness is OBSERVATION.
We may think that we have no choice but to observe the way we act, the things we say, the things we do, the things we are “triggered” by. That is observation on a surface level and we generally chalk that up to “The Way I Am…”. Most of the time we are on autopilot running the same old programs and conditioning that we have run for years and these states of being seem like “who we are”.
Listen to today's intentional session below:
To evolve as consciousness and become more self-aware we need to become very observant as we travel on this journey. We need to become “The Watcher” as Eckhart Tolle says.
Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.
– Eckhart Tolle
Today, let's practice becoming “The Watcher”.
The good news is that, with practice, you begin to become aware of the voices in your head and what happens internally when you hear them. Instead of reacting from the script you have always used, or judging yourself or someone else, you find yourself present, focused and curious about what is happening. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns especially when a person or experience “triggers” a change in your emotional state. This is where a journal can come in handy. Document patterns in as much detail as possible or just write down experiences that caused an emotionally charged reaction. Do so without analysis, judgment or trying to change anything.
What are your voices saying?
Which conversation (between your body, emotions and those voices) causes you to want to react rather than know more?
Psychological “triggers” can be tricky, they can be deep and hidden in our subconscious.
We have accepted them as ourselves, when actually they were conditioning that we adopted (usually in childhood) as a protection and coping tool. As adults, they are soundtracks and patterns of behavior that in most cases no longer serve us and in many cases are causing us higher stress. A “trigger” can manifest by any sense reaction. A smell, a taste, a word or phrase or perception. Many small and seemingly insignificant or unrelated manifestations that cause us to react in a patterned way. But is there any way to alter these triggers?
1) Learn your “stress signature”.
According to what science currently knows when we experience a trigger, our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) kicks off a complex process of self-protection that readies us for three possible actions: fight, flight or freeze. Our adrenaline spikes, and stress hormones like cortisol course throughout our bodies and brain. Once these stress hormones are released, anxiety soars, and we often lose touch with our healthy coping skills and succumb to reactions like lashing out or running away.
Learning to recognize that you are being triggered as soon as the signs start in your body is the first step. Each one of us has a unique “stress signature”. One of three things usually throws us into the fight, flight or freeze response: increased heart rate, sweating or muscle tension. Pay close attention the next time you feel triggered, and see which of these is most prominent for you.
2) Pause, calm your body and focus on your breath and what you are feeling.
Document your findings. All of this information can lead us to greater self awareness.
3) Practice tuning into your body and what it is trying to tell you several times a day-triggered or not.
As stress levels arise our tendency is to tune into what is happening outside ourselves. We have become so conditioned to that feeling place that we have become disconnected from the wisdom our body holds. There are several great meditations that focus on our connection to our body. Try one. Document your findings.
It is very important that when you listen to that voice you do not judge. Just note the particulars until you can see the patterns. Once you begin to observe yourself in action, in the moment, without judgment, you become accountable for creating the life you want. There is so much power in that. You gain a whole new level of self-awareness.
What about you? What inspired you during today's intention on observation?
Feel free to share in the comments below or in the Self-Awareness Activity Feed.