Self-confidence is built on self-awareness. I have discovered – many times over – that clients who develop their interceptive skills live powerfully authentic lives. It is this internal self-awareness that allows you to consider whether you:
- follow your heart;
- listen to your gut; or
- sit with your thoughts.
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Your sense of self is much greater than just your brain and mind, and you are not your thoughts, emotions, or even your actions. If you delve into this, you will notice you are the thinker, feeler and doer!
Tony Robbins and many other proponents of mindset work will promise that mindset is 80% of the formula to success. I disagree simply because it fails to overlook the essence of being. Suppose you have already aligned your heart (desires & values), mind (your thoughts, creativity, beliefs, and perceptions), and gut (identity, boundaries, and motivation). In that case, mindset work will take you so far.
But as Covey would say: the first step is to make sure that you are leaning the ladder against the right wall. There is no point in chasing someone else’s dream for you: it can be the most incredible idea in the world for someone else.
Self-awareness allows you to own it! Is this mine: do I desire this completely to make the commitment to this?
Trusting yourself: first, you must know yourself!
Being self-aware results in better decision-making, self-control and interaction with others. There is more to this than just knowing your favourite colour and your preferences.
Scientists typically agree that there are two types of self-awareness, which are not necessarily related:
This is the ability to monitor your “inner world”:
- values, priorities and what is truly important;
- passions and desires;
- emotional reactions;
- relationships – how do you relate to yourself and others;
- thoughts and your way of processing the world;
- Seeing your perspectives: what is the lens that I am looking through in the world?
- How do I analyse and rationalise in my mind?
- What is my sense of self and identity?
- What are my boundaries?
- Am I risk-averse or willing to go beyond my comfort zone?
These elements make up your inner world, and when you truly know yourself, you build an authentic life of satisfaction and happiness.
This ability is looking back at yourself through the eyes of others: the ability to perceive how others see you. It is both a strength and a weakness. At its best, it makes for a great leader who builds excellent relationships with those around you. At its worst, you become a people-pleaser, living up to everyone else’s expectations and abandoning yourself.
This external self-awareness harnesses the powers of empathy, allowing you to see yourself through their eyes. You then choose how you relate to others effectively by interacting with them from their perspective. It is immensely powerful (or crippling).
Self-awareness for change:
When you are mindful and self-aware, you tap into your gut instinct and more readily follow your heart. It is this ability to notice your thoughts, feelings and how they become actions that propel change. When you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your habits, you choose where to interrupt the loop most effectively.
This mindfulness requires a level of inner balance and inner mastery:
- What do you think about the issue at hand?
- How do you feel at this moment?
- Can you express yourself openly with those around you, or do you clam up? What is required for you to feel safe in this setting?
- Do you stand up regularly for your values, standards and priorities?
- What do you regularly notice about your standards of self-care?
- Does your mindfulness encompass the pursuit of your goals?
If you are merely self-aware and mindful but don’t use this insight to make changes, what growth are you noticing in your life?
Self-awareness is powerful because it allows for better decision-making: how would I like to respond in the future when faced with this similar situation? It provides you with more confidence: you know your mind and trust your gut. Rather than getting caught up in overthinking, are you trusting your feelings – knowing what lies below the surface and allowing it to pass?
Inner peace fosters inner wisdom.
If you want inner peace, self-awareness is a great tool to use. It will allow you to filter out the “noise” of the chatter in your mind. It also helps in releasing emotions more efficiently, as you notice what gets stuck.
You also experience the inner peace of living aligned with your passions and purpose, rather than pleasing other people. Self-awareness opens up opportunities for learning and growth because you are kind to yourself and yet striving to change.
Wherever you focus your self-awareness, you will create more clarity. And clarity makes things easier! You notice when you’re clinging to an old, outdated version of yourself and gently let go without judgement.
Inner wisdom gently arises when you are calm and tap into your inner peace.
Building trust through self-awareness:
I invite you to build trust in your head, heart, and gut from this state of inner peace. There is a unique emotional intelligence when your heart leads, aligned with the power of your mind.
I don’t want you to choose one over the other. I want you to find that satisficing place where you can be authentically you: leading from your heart with the highest expression of compassion. Trusting yourself – living with authenticity – is based on these simple four factors:
- communication, and
They are the same four factors that build trust with others: but it applies equally within.
If you remember the golden rule, it mentions loving your neighbour as yourself. So, let’s start with the self-awareness of self-compassion.
One of the ways I like to visualise compassion is much like breathing: you can’t breathe out more than what you breathe in!
So, if you wish to be compassionate to others, start with inhaling compassion for yourself! Breathe it in, fully and deeply. Let it flood every cell of your body as your heart pumps self-love through your arteries and revitalises all of you with loving-kindness.
Sit with that for a moment.
Notice how compassionate you are:
- Are your thoughts toward yourself compassionate? Or is your inner critic constantly judging and harsh? Perhaps your loving-kindness in your mind is only available for others? What if you extended this caring and kindness to yourself?
- Do you look for different perspectives, finding compassionate views?
- Consider how you relate to yourself: are you loving and caring?
- Are you gentle and patient with yourself when emotions are running high, or are you quick to shut emotions down? What would it mean to be compassionate when you are sad or grieving?
- Also, consider how kind you are to yourself when you are successful: do you push harder or celebrate?
- When you are fearful, can you be compassionately courageous? What would it mean to face your fear with compassion and courage?
- How do you treat yourself when you are tired or worn down?
Self-awareness is taking note of how you think, feel, and act throughout the day, applying mindfulness to your inner state of being and how you respond to that state.
Could you consistently be mindful of your inner life?
The second factor in building trust in your heart, mind and gut is consistency: are you consistently mindful of your thoughts, perspectives, points of view, emotions, actions and reactions? Mindful daily practice will allow you to regularly hear the still, small voice within when you speak from the heart, and it lets you notice the gut instinct that kicks in when a boundary is in danger, alerting you to risks.
To build trust, you need to practise listening to the inner whispers of your heart. What are your hearts desires? Are you attuned to them? Do you honour them?
Alternatively, how consistently are you focused on the voice of the inner critic?
Or perhaps you prefer to avoid pain with regular distractions, staying in a continuous state of hustle and “busy”. Are you regularly stressed and anxious?
What are the patterns and habits that you are noticing that you practice consistently? You are either building trust or distrust with yourself.
The invitation you have today is to be mindful of your heart, gut and mind, individually and working together seamlessly.
There are many ways to raise our inner awareness and communicate with our heart, gut and mind. I want to suggest some of those ways, although this list is by no means exhaustive:
- How often do you allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts? Perhaps you have a daily walk for thinking and meditating.
Stethoscope for the heart:
- This is something I discovered recently with a mBraining course! What’s interesting with this exercise is that as you become attuned to your heart, moving the stethoscope around, you start to tune into different emotions. It takes practice, and you’ll need some 15 minutes or so to sit in silence, listening to your heart! You can play with the above exercise, thinking about different situations or people – either that make you angry, upset you or perhaps joy and happiness – and notice what you notice with your heart as you experience these different emotions.
- Journal – this is a great way to get in touch with thoughts, feelings and perspectives. As you write, especially if you take the time to write consistently, you’ll start to notice patterns of thoughts, understand your points of view, and look at different situations, relationships, & challenges.
- I particularly like an exercise – in the evening, I write down questions for my subconscious mind and gut to ponder overnight. Then, first thing in the morning, I sit down with my journal, look at my questions and then write down without “thinking” the answers to those questions. I am regularly amazed at what surfaces as I allow my subconscious and my gut to respond.
Meditation & Mindfulness:
- How often do you practice mindful noticing of your thoughts or emotions? Without judgement, just watching them as they pass through or by.
- Somatic awareness and body scan: I do a guided meditation of a body scan, from head to toe, and notice what I notice. It’s just a consistent practice of mindfully being present in my body.
- I will sometimes sit with my right hand on my heart and my left hand on my gut and sit in mindful silence. What do I notice from my heart? What does my belly want to communicate?
A conversation between ego & self:
- I particularly like to sit with my hands on my gut, in that place where I most feel my deep sense of self. My experience is that your sense of self sits in a different part of the gut: I hesitate to suggest where you might place your hands. But, what I do know is that my “self” is not “in my head”. But once I have my hands on my gut, connecting with that sense of self, I allow myself to connect and communicate with my ego, that built up image of myself created in my mind. The purpose of this communication is to align the image of myself that I have made in my mind to reflect better that deep sense of who I am, truly and deeply. It’s not about eradicating my ego, but rather aligning my ego!
Sometimes the communication from the heart or gut is more obvious: gut-wrenching responses, your heart skipping a beat, the tightening of your chest, and other physiological responses that you cannot ignore. But do you pay attention and notice what is being communicated?
This final point, for inner self-awareness, is a little more challenging to explain. But if you’ve understood communication, you will no doubt know that the head brain is not “competent” to emote. You don’t “feel your emotions” in your head, and in the same way, you don’t experience your “gut instinct” in your thoughts.
So, when it comes to building trust, I want to invite you to allow each part of your body and being to do its job to the best of its ability. Your brain (head) will make meaning and interpret all the signals from the body, letting you know what the messages are. But stop trying to tell yourself how you “should feel” and instead allow your heart to feel. That’s what it does. And your head then makes sense and interprets these feelings.
You then have choices about how you act on those emotions or feelings: do you want to build a thought-feeling loop, where you keep repeating that emotional state over and over? Or would you prefer to interrupt it so that you don’t spend time over-thinking and relive the moment?
You build trust when you let your mind think, analyse, plan, and analyse, directed and guided by the desires and values of your heart with wise compassion. Then, listen to your gut instinct – what does it have to say about safety and boundaries? Can you drum up courage from your gut to move forward?
You will build trust in yourself when each part of you does what it does best!
Wellbeing is an Inside Job:
Self-awareness of your feelings, thoughts and actions opens opportunities for change. As you build trust through compassionate communication with your head, heart and gut, you will consistently listen to all the messages of inner wisdom available to you. Your wellbeing depends on aligning the parts to work together in balance, as a single whole. No longer competing against each other, but instead working together to find solutions “outside the box”.
This is so much more than just working on your mindset, and it amplifies willpower through courageous action to a whole new level of possibilities.
Consider the benefits of allowing your heart to feel, especially showing you your values and priorities. Allow your heart to compassionately relate to yourself and others, rather than working out – in your head – how to act and interact. As you are aware of the inner voice of your heart, you’ll find a whole new way of relating to others and the world around you that is truly authentic.
Give your mind the gift of compassionate creativity: allow it to look at things from different points of view and perspectives and openly analyse, rationalise, and imagine. Take time to visualise what you might create, plan and schedule as you use your inner wisdom to guide your goals and dreams.
Finally, listen to your gut for that deep sense of self, aligning with who you deeply, truly are. When that gut instinct kicks in, letting you know you are uncomfortable with a risk or choice, listen. There might be a better way to achieve your goal without putting yourself at risk. Or you might find that you need to leave behind the old you that wasn’t ready to move forward. But listening will bring you the awareness of how to trust yourself in the decisions and choices you make deeply.
With self-awareness, you thrive from the inside out!