This article is the first in a series of nine that focus on areas that I explore with my health coaching clients. Our health and well-being are so much more than just what we eat and how active we are, even though that is certainly part of it. What changes would you like to see in your life? Whether its nutrition, being physically active, reducing stress, being more in-tune with your mind body connection, or something else, it all starts by building self-awareness. And by practicing compassion with ourselves! Compassionate self-awareness is at the center of everything else, so it’s a great place to start with this series of articles.
What is self-awareness? Self-awareness is a self-conscious state where you’re focused on yourself and your well-being. It is often said, “We cannot change what we will not see.” Self-awareness is the process of acknowledging not only our strengths, but our weaknesses as well. Becoming self-aware entails listening to your body and feelings and taking action based on what you hear your body saying. If you’re in tune with your body, you’ll know when to say no to that extra piece of cake or say no to staying up late or when to say yes to taking needed time to rest. You’ll become more in tune with your body the more often you respect it. Self-awareness is not a one-time occurrence but is a process.
The more we do it, the better we become at it.
How do you become self-aware? Here are some tips to help you become more self-aware:
Reflect on who you are and who you’d like to become. While it’s important to notice your faults
and weaknesses, it’s equally important to acknowledge your strengths.
The better you understand yourself, the better you’re able to accept yourself as you are or change
the things you would like to be different. Self-awareness requires you to be honest with yourself
and to have the courage to change the things you can.
Looking within yourself, you’ll find the many character traits that make you unique and that make you the only you on this planet. Start by acknowledging the positive things first. This will strengthen and encourage you to face the less favorable character traits without abandoning your
On the other hand, when evaluating your strengths, don’t let your ego get the best of you. If you
magnify either your strengths or your weaknesses, you can’t possibly get a realistic picture of
Pay attention to your likes and dislikes. Far too often, people make life-changing choices
without acknowledging deeply rooted personal preferences. Before you embark on goals for your
future, have a full awareness of the things you especially enjoy and those you prefer not to have in your life.
Face your inner self. During your self-awareness process, think about your motivations, dreams,
fears and stressors. Think about why you feel the way you do, then begin to work towards
overcoming these inner battles.
Ask opinions of those you care about. Talk to people who know you best and really listen to what they see as your dominant character traits and motivations. Ask them to be completely honest with you and be prepared to hear their opinions. You may not be your own best judge of character. Accept the way your loved ones see you as part of this process. Consider their opinions along with your own analysis in order to see the full picture of who you are.
And where does the compassion part come in? Compassionate self-awareness combines the constructs of mindfulness and self-kindness. Mindful awareness centers on the moment-to-moment experience of body sensations, thoughts, feelings and our drive to act. Essentially, how words, sensations, thoughts and emotions arise in us, and how they bundle together to drive our behavior. Mindfulness also emphasizes the ability to be aware of the whole range of human experience, including painful experiences, with a particular attitude of acceptance. Self-kindness adds a deepening of the ability to be caring and understanding with ourselves, recognizing that we are all human, with blessings and imperfections. Compassionate self- awareness helps us to be conscious of what is important to us and to hold ourselves with kindness as we encounter life’s challenges and successes, which we all have.
So, a good place to start if you would like to make changes in any area of your life is with self-awareness. Begin with a complete and honest picture of who you are now, looking at strength and weaknesses. And remember self-kindness and mindfulness as part of the package. This total awareness will start your journey towards change no matter in what area of life that change may be.
Vanderbilt Health Coaching Program, Resources for Health and Wellness Coaches.
A Time to Bloom Health and Wellness Coaching, LLC