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Friday, July 2,2021

Self Awareness

By Liz Sterling  
This month I was assigned the following topic: “How to Be Honest With Yourself and Develop Self Awareness.” “That’s a good topic,” I thought, and then realized it’s a BIG topic too.

Let’s start with selfawareness. Most of us have had to adapt throughout the pandemic. Zoom and other platforms have become our go to place to meet, socialize, gather, learn, study and grow. I both taught classes and took classes in many arenas.

A few months ago, I joined an online group, and we have evolved to practice the principles of self-awareness. It was born out of open, honest sharing about the influence of our inner domain… especially and specifically, our minds.

In many of the wisdom teachings, the mind is the culprit for unhappiness. Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Often in Buddhism, the term “monkey mind” is used referring to the swinging from thought to thought and the chattering and endless carrying on that happens in our minds.

This busyness begins upon awaking and ends with our last and final thoughts when we go to sleep. The monkey mind judges, condemns, critiques, holds biases and discriminates… all day long. It compares, it bolsters, it minimizes, it ridicules, it can even take on different intonations. I have a “Who do you think you are?” voice that reprimands me and sounds like my dad!

Every human being has had authority figures who did their best to guide us in life. These people probably said NO a hundred more times than they said yes, and lots of commands such as “don’t do this and don’t be that and don’t think this way and don’t try that.” These still live in our unconscious minds. They are referred to as internalized parental invalidation and activate shame, guilt, fear and unworthiness. Did you know this? Does it sound or feel familiar?

If you did not struggle with this input of information, you are truly blessed and have had a most unusual upbringing. If any part of you resonates with the scenario I have just described, you’re in luck, because once you are aware of what’s going on, you have the power to change your life and change your experiences.

Self-awareness is merely the ability to listen, observe and make grown up choices about how we conduct ourselves from the inside out. That’s it. I am not going to complicate this any further. If you want to start anew, watch your mind. You can begin right now, or better yet, make an agreement to catch your first morning thought when you wake up tomorrow. Look at that thought and ask yourself if it matches what you want the energy of your day to reflect.

I have a saying: “You can’t control your first thought but you can choose the second.” Give yourself the gift of making your thoughts match your desires and the outcomes you would like to experience. Think about your language. Eliminate negative phrasing and use positive, affirmative outcomerelated words that will create good intentions for you to manifest. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t remember things as easily as I used to,” you can say, “I am choosing to remember things easily and like how my brain is working.” These are some techniques of positive and affirmative self-talk. Try it, you’ll like it!!!

Finally, about being honest with ourselves, that is a task that requires dedication and commitment. The way into that realm is through selfinquiry. And the way to use self-inquiry is to access your feelings.

Start with identifying how you feel. There are five main feelings: Mad, Glad, Sad, Afraid or Ashamed. To be honest with oneself, we have to feel our feelings. There is a saying that I share with my clients and use for myself. “You’ve got to feel it to heal it.” Period. Feelings are the way to gain access to the underlying emotions that drive so much of our lives.

I’ve noticed since the pandemic began that there’s growing interest in working on trauma-related issues because we all went through this together. Some fared better than others, but we all were touched by this global upheaval. Many of us lost those we loved and cared about and old trauma seems to be bubbling up, giving us an unexpected opportunity to be honest with ourselves and each other.

Everyone in my new online group has made a commitment to be more honest and aware, and to bring our best selves into the world. We’ve adapted The Four Agreements, principles from a book of the same name authored by Don Miguel Ruiz. We’ve been working on the first agreement for weeks. It instructs the reader to “Be Impeccable With Your Word.” Think about that for a few, I was going say minutes, but the truth is it could take months to really get that practice down pat.

So here are the Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. I’ve referred to them for years. I’ve taught them, practiced them, revisited them and am working on them again today.

I’m confident that if you choose to be self-aware and honest with yourself and others, what I’ve offered is a good start.

Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word

Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally

Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions

Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

Independence Day is this month – imagine the freedom that comes with self-awareness and being honest with yourself!


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