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20. Self-awareness what it is, it’s benefits and 5 suggestions to begin your self-awareness journey

Listen on Apple Podcasts here.

Listen on Spotify here.

In this episode, I discuss:

  • what self-awareness is

  • the three kinds of self-awareness

  • how self-awareness has and can change lives (personal & evidence based)

  • the three guidelines to self-awareness work

  • five suggestions to begin your self-awareness journey

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Mindful Soul Collective Podcast, a safe space for your healing.

I'm your host Shorina, a counsellor, well-being coach, multi-bus owner and mum.

I'm here to talk all things mind, body and soul.

You can expect conversations on mental health, mindfulness, mindset, healing and whole body wellness.

I've completely redefined my relationship to myself and to my life.

And now it's your turn.

Hello and welcome back to the podcast.

In today's episode, I'm going to be speaking to self-awareness, which is something that

I really believe we should all be prioritising and, honestly, deep from deep, deep, deep

in my heart, it's something we should all be doing every single day.

Self-awareness, if you're not sure what that means, it's having the ability to recognise

and understand our own thoughts, our emotions and our behaviours. It's being conscious and aware of our feelings, our biases, our beliefs, but also understanding how those internal processes and feelings and thoughts and beliefs and all the things are going to affect other parts of our lives too, so in things like making decisions, in our behaviour, in our work and in our relationships.

Self-awareness is also foundation for discovering what your personal purpose and many life is, which, let's be honest, we all are looking for that, we all want that.

Nobody's ever going to be 110% self-aware, and I want to make that super, super clear.

We are always going to have new things to discover, to learn, to understand about ourselves, which I think is a beautiful part of the journey. But when we're prioritising that self-awareness and doing that self-awareness work, our lives are going to change dramatically, and I think that my entire life is evidence of that.

I used to be in such a dark, lonely, sad, honestly depressing place. I had zero self-awareness, clueless. I didn't know anything about myself, about the person I was, the life I was living, I didn't know anything about my emotions, my beliefs, anything about my life.

I had no clue. But when I really started my self-awareness work, my life started to improve in every single area.

My mental health improved, my relationships improved, my relationship with myself improved, my work improved, finances improved, my physical health improved.

Every part of my life got better. I went from living in such an incredibly dark place to living in a light-filled place where I now get to do this for my work. I get to shine the light for other people too now.

This has been life-changing for me, it's been life-changing for my family, friends,

my clients, you guys, my whole audience, everyone around me.

Self-awareness is really one of the most important parts of our mental health and wellbeing journey, and I wanted to share a few reasons why I believe it's so important.

I've obviously shared how it's impacted my life, but there are a few main benefits

that I kind of put down in bullet points that I wanted to mention again.

The first is it leads to better mental health, which is what I'm all about. It's why I'm here, it's why I work with people. That is my purpose. Self-awareness helps us to notice, manage, and usually even eliminate any negative or perceived negative thoughts and emotions that we're experiencing.

It increases our empathy and our compassion. When we can understand our own experiences and emotions, we're naturally going to be more compassionate and have more empathy for other people because of that understanding that we hold.

It improves our relationships. Self-awareness, it's going to help us communicate more effectively, whether that's with friends, kids, family, colleagues, loved ones, fill in the blank anyone. And that's because if we're not self-aware of our own emotions, strengths, biases, beliefs, and everything else, we're going to find it difficult to connect with other people. But when we are self-aware and we do know those things about ourselves, we can communicate our needs and our desires better, which makes our relationships stronger, healthier, and again, better. Loving that word today.

And the last benefit is its impact on personal growth and development, which is a bit of

what I've mentioned already anyway. When we're actively self-aware and doing self-awareness work, we're able to find the parts of us that need improvement, always with love, of course. But when we can identify and find those parts of us that maybe need a bit of tweaking, then we have the opportunity to work on it and then become the better version of ourselves.

The benefits I've just mentioned are based on my own personal experience, but I did also

want to mention a study I found in its results and self-awareness because we all know I love the evidence and the studies. I know you guys do too.

So a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology had the goal to explore the connection between self-awareness and life satisfaction. The study came back with two key findings that I wanted to mention to you guys today. When people do self-awareness work and become more self-aware, they are going to have a more positive outlook and greater fulfillment. That's based on the study. Also personal experience.

So the study found a positive correlation between self-awareness and having a more optimistic outlook on life. So when people were more in tune with their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, they viewed life through a more positive lens.

The research from this study also indicated that higher levels of self-awareness were

connected with greater fulfillment in both personal and professional parts of lives.

So there are so many studies and research based on why self-awareness is positive for

our mental health and wellbeing, but I thought that this particular one worked well at being short and sweet to explain, so there you have it. Personal and research based evidence that you should be doing self-awareness work.

Now before getting into how to do it and how to practice self-awareness, I did think it

was important to mention that there are three components to self-awareness. Internal, external, and relational.

Internal self-awareness refers to the ability to recognize our own thoughts, feelings, and

emotions. So everything inside us. This is being able to identify and maybe even label, usually label, our internal experiences, which could be our beliefs, values, and attitudes.

When we're high in internal self-awareness, we're usually better at regulating our own

emotions and managing stress because we're more attuned to our internal experiences.

So we know what's going on inside, we understand what's going on inside.

External self-awareness refers to the ability to understand how other people perceive us

and our behavior. This is being open to feedback and actively seeking out other people's perspective.

When we're high in external self-awareness, we're usually better communicators because we can adapt our behavior based on others' expectations.

And then lastly, relational self-awareness is the ability to understand our role in relationships with others.

So it's really about recognizing how our behavior impacts other people as well as understanding that person's needs and maybe even how they see things, so their perspective.

When we're high in relational self-awareness, we're usually a lot better at navigating

social situations and we build stronger relationships and a lot of the time we can end up being a better leader.

When we're able to incorporate all forms of self-awareness, we're really in the best

place possible because we're going to understand ourselves, we're going to understand others, and we're going to understand the world around us.

So I thought about whether I wanted to give tips on each component of self-awareness

separately, but I thought that might have been a bit much, so I'm just going to share

it just overall tips and ideas. But in saying that, if you would like me to do an episode diving into each of them further with more information, individual tips, please send me a message on Instagram, let me know, love hearing from you, and I love your suggestions.

Before I explain how to do self-awareness work, there are three rules or guidelines,

depending which way you do like to use better, that I want to encourage you to implement first.

First is to create a safe environment with unlimited time. The reason I say this is because you don't want to be rushing through your thoughts and rushing through your emotions when you've just got five minutes before you have to pick up the kids or go to work. You really want to have the time and give yourself the time to let those emotions rise up properly, feel them entirely, witness them fully, and then work through them. You can't do that when you have limited time. And I know we're all busy, I get that, I honor that, I respect that, I understand that. But you cannot rush it.

The second is to connect with yourself daily. Self-awareness is something you're going to need to practice for the rest of your life. So by having this as a rule or a guideline, you know that it's just part of your everyday life. I think that it's amazing that we have the opportunity to continue deepening our relationship to ourselves every single day.

So I also don't say this in a way to scare you or think it's just another thing for you to do list. It's not about that. It's just about connecting to yourself every day.

The last rule, guideline, whatever you're calling them is to always practice self-compassion. When we offer ourselves a little compassion, we will have a deeper sense of self-awareness because we're allowing ourselves to recognize and accept our feelings even when they're uncomfortable. Instead of trying to push your emotions away, you can then acknowledge them and explore what they're trying to tell you.

If you can understand the underlying causes of your emotions, you can learn to take a

step back to observe, to reflect, all without getting swept away by them.

Okay, now that that's all out of the way, let's talk about how the heck we can be more

self-aware. I'm going to share the things, practices and tools I use, recommend, suggest to clients, but there are so many out there, hundreds, thousands. Please take what you like from this episode, leave what you don't, as always, you need to find what works for you.

As a counselor and a well-being coach, of course, the first thing I'm going to share

is to work with a counselor or a coach. I know, it sounds by us, but I do my own self-awareness work. I see my own counselor and coach continually, and I have done so for more than 10 years, and both of those spaces are safe and supportive for me.

They're a safe and supportive environment where I can go and explore my own thoughts

and my own emotions without judgment. Your counselor or coach is going to be able to help support you through whatever comes up. They're going to encourage you to reflect on experiences and emotions on a much deeper level, and usually on a much deeper level than what you could do on your own as well. I work in this field, and yet my own counselor and my own coach identify many different blind spots I have. That's because when you're the one in it, when you're going through it, when you're experiencing it, you have tunnel vision. Your counselor and coach don't have tunnel vision. They're looking with a bird's eye view, and they can push, encourage, support you with the whole picture and experience. So I highly recommend working with a counselor or a coach.

The second is to practice mindfulness. When we're in a mindful state, we are more aware of our thoughts, our emotions, our sensations in our body and our environment in the present moment. By practicing mindfulness and being in the present moment, you are going to be more aware of your internal experiences. You're going to be a better observer of yourself and of your life, and you're going to be able to stay calm and focused, which then leads to more balance later. If you'd like more information on mindfulness, head back to episode 15. I dove deep. I gave lots of suggestions there.

The third is to journal, which I guess would kind of come under mindfulness, but I did

want to mention it separately. Journaling gives you a time and a space to identify, to work through and accept or process any thoughts or feelings you're having. It's really just about giving you that safe space again. It's giving you a place to actually name and talk about your emotions, experiences, or maybe even triggers in your everyday life. So highly recommend journaling. There's no wrong way to do it.

The fourth suggestion is to meditate, which again, I guess could come hand in hand with

mindfulness, but I wanted to mention it separately too, because it has so many benefits.

But when we're talking about self awareness, meditation specifically helps you to calm

your mind. It provides clarity. And again, offers a safe space for you to assess your emotions, experiences, and thoughts.

The fifth and final suggestion is to pay attention to your body. Our bodies can tell us so, so, so much. It can reveal a lot about our emotional and mental state. Remember that our emotions manifest physically within our body. So if you're feeling anxious, you might notice that your heart's racing, your palms are getting sweaty, your muscles might even tense up. And then on the flip side, if you're excited, you may notice a lightness in your body.

If you pay attention to the physical sensations that arise, you can then match the mob or

notice what emotions are coming up for them. And then you can use the tools and techniques to address it. For example, say you were noticing your heart racing, your palms start to get sweaty. You're not sure what's going on. You take a second, think about, okay, heart's racing, palm sweaty. What does that mean for me? You can then associate those physical symptoms you're experiencing because you're noticing them, because you're paying attention to your body. So you connect those physical symptoms with being anxious. Then you use the tools and techniques that work for you to alleviate that anxiety. So that could be deep breathing or butterfly tapping or whatever it is.

Our bodies have almost all of the answers. We just need to be willing to listen.

As a recap, my five suggestions are to work with a counselor or coach, practice mindfulness, journal, meditate and pay attention to your body.

Finding things that are going to support and encourage yourself awareness journey is incredibly important. Please, again, if these things don't feel right, then great. That's totally fine. Find some that do. Find the things that do feel good for you. But these suggestions are a really beautiful, simple and easy way to get started if you're not sure where to go and where to start.

Practicing self awareness is going to be an ongoing process. It's going to take time and patience, but it is one of the most important investments you will ever make in yourself.

I say that both from a professional sense, but also a personal sense.

I hope that this has landed.

I hope you are feeling overloaded.

I hope you've got some great information today.

And as always, I'm sending you lots of love and lots of support.

And I'll talk to you next week.


With love & support,

Shorina | Mindful Soul Collective

Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach


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