• Andrew Wien

How to identify when you are not at your best—the three components of awareness

Has this ever happened to you?

  • You spin unproductively at work for an hour

  • Someone tells you that you are stressed. You take a step back and realize you’ve been stressed all afternoon!

  • You say something to someone that you later regret. Or it’s in an email in written record.

We all want to avoid these situations, but how? If only someone could tap us on the shoulder at the right moment and snap us out of it.

Actually, someone can. And that person is you. The key is real time awareness. The more quickly we can be aware of what is happening, the more quickly we can do something about it.

At any one time, there are three things to be aware of about yourself.

  1. Your thoughts- what is happening in your head, composed of sound (e.g. self-talk) and visuals (e.g. imagine a pink elephant)

  2. Your emotions- what is happening in your body. Anger, sadness, joy, and all other emotions appear in your body with a unique physiological signature.

  3. Your actions—this is everything that is noticeable to everyone else. Facial expressions, body language, body movement, speech, etc.

If we can develop awareness of all three components, we can more rapidly catch ourselves in ineffective mental states.

For most of us, we do things that we later regret (i.e actions) because we lack awareness of our thoughts and / or emotions.

To increase awareness of thoughts: practice observing your thoughts with tools based in mindfulness. Focused attention or open awareness are good exercises.

To increase awareness of emotions: practice identifying and observing your emotions with tools based in emotional intelligence. A body scan and notice and name it are good options.

Better yet, find a training based in mindfulness and emotional intelligence that resonates with you.

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