As babies, our sense of self is the first thing we grow. A young child first understands the world through him/her self.
This egocentric approach is essential for a baby as a survival mechanism.
On this initial layer of self is then added how the primary caregivers interact with the baby. The kind of attachment they form plays an essential role in the child’s sense of identity.
The reason I began with infancy is to emphasize the fact on how our sense of self starts when we are born and continues to be with us through life.
When anyone speaks of change, the first thing they need to focus on is themselves. Intrinsic change is a product of a change in thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives.
But how do we create internal and everlasting change? Through Self-Awareness
And how do we evolve through positive affirming change? Through Self-Awareness
Self Awareness is the continuous examination of our intentions, scrutiny of our beliefs, and inspection of our perspectives that lead us on a path of growth, peace, and fulfillment.
This ‘check’ must be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
It can be done when you are feeling unhappy, starting something new, getting overwhelmed, or even while celebrating success.
Checking ourselves and reflecting on thoughts, beliefs, and emotions helps us to be grateful for happy moments and find a path through difficult ones.
Below are 5 steps to perform this ‘check’ :
1. Clear Your Mind
Find a quiet place to sit and think. For those who love nature, sitting by the window or going outside for a walk can help.
Collect your thoughts and breathe deeply.
As you breathe deeply, your body and mind will unwind. The thoughts and feelings will rush but indulge in them one at a time. Take your time with your thoughts.
Make them freeze in your mind and go deeper. Ask them questions:
- What is your intention?
- Will this matter in 5 years?
- Is this a battle I want to fight?
- Is this important to me?
- Where did this belief come from?
- Why am I reacting like this?
- Where did this thought actually origin from?
A lot of the time, I have realized the situation is happening now but the reasons originate from my childhood experiences. Since these experiences form our core beliefs and sense of self – a lot of uncovering needs to be done.
Every past experience will unearth deep emotions and unmet needs. We need to witness them. Here witnessing means feeling and accepting.
Seeing and hearing our own feelings so they feel validated. That is the basic nature of emotions. They want to be heard and understood.
Accept yourself in ways others did not. Nurture yourself in ways your caregivers did not or loved ones do not.
Understanding and accepting our feelings makes us go from reacting to acting purposefully.Prachi Bansal
4. Mind Map
Now that we have plowed through our feelings and struck the core, it is time to plant the root idea and grow its many branches.
Brew on the intention behind your action. Imagine clearly your desired situation.
Here journalling helps to untangle current feelings, prune out non – essential ones, and string together the purposeful ones.
Below is an example of my mind map for starting reading again. A similar one can be made for any impending problem to be solved or a decision to be made.
5. Pros and Cons
The mind map displays the purpose/need behind the action, now we again need to reconsider the outcomes of the said action.
Every action has a reaction by others. Are we prepared to face them?
Do a SWOT like the one below to measure if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The opportunities outweigh the threats.
And then it is time to decide.
Listed below are a few reasons why self-awareness helps in steering ourselves and keeping us on our chosen path:
- The decisions made are aligned with our values
- Understanding the WHY helps to be clear in our intentions
- Reframing the narrative helps to avoid blame and anger
- We take responsibility for our actions
- A clearer path is simulated
- It helps in enhancing gratitude
And being grateful is the shortcut to happiness. All the above-listed reasons help us to stay on the path of peace, fulfillment, and happiness.
Because happiness is not a destination but a journey filled with self-checks and balances.