UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 18 – SELF-AWARENESS
As soon as you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.
What is Self-Awareness?
In some ways, the question above makes little sense. It is like asking a bird about the air or a fish about water. Yet it is hardly surprising that one of the biggest selling books of the Twentieth Century was ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.
It would seem that in one way we have never been more connected and at the same never been more disconnected with our own selves. Surrounded by noise, multi-stimuli and busyness we are less and less able to hear ourselves and be aware of our own inner voice and wisdom.
Awareness is a conscious, resourced being in the present moment.
Why is it so important?
Awareness is vital if we are to become a truly universal man. A huge amount of energy goes into being reactive to what others say and do. We react to, we dump on, we are caught in traps and can’t get out of them, we are confused by what is happening to us and unaware of our own beliefs, biases, value-laden language, negative body language, our projection and more.
In this state, we are not in the driver’s seat. And we don’t like this feeling of living someone else’s life – personally or professionally.
Most of us have played some form of sport where we were constantly playing ‘catch-up’ football or the other was totally dictating the speed and the form of the game and we were not able to play ‘our game’! That is the price we pay for a lack of awareness. Awareness skills and equips us to play our game personally and professionally.
Awareness is a conscious, resourced being in the present moment.
Firstly, it is conscious;
You are alert to what is happening within and without and you are able to hear the inner voice, the intuition, the ‘gut feeling’. This means you are able to focus on what we choose to focus on and not be constantly (and automatically) kidnapped by other thoughts.
Things are not a blur of rushed thoughts and surface feelings which means you see and feel clearly. You are aware of your reactions, overreactions, projections, dumping and can name when you are being thrown out of the driver’s seat of your own life and someone else is behind the steering wheel.
You can actually hear the pure noise around you of birds or breeze or children’s laughter. Your inner engine over-revving has finally stopped OR at least you are aware that it has not stopped.
You feel more one, more whole, more complete.
Secondly, it is resourced;
You have developed an array of skills to help harness your ‘monkey mind’ – to focus it. Likely you have a life coach or mentor to assist you in more disciplined, creative and positive thinking. The professional supervisor / coach will help you name the ‘reaction’, the driver behind the behaviour, your inner tapes that set you off. A coach or mentor can help you become aware of your language, the questions you are asking (and the ones you could be asking), your patterns of behaviour and thinking.
As you become more ‘aware’ of the nature of your autopilot you will be more able to anticipate it and counter it. Much of our reactivity is linked to inner tapes that we have developed (unconsciously) from our childhood that kick in during times of stress, pressure and fear. As you begin to be more conscious of these tapes you can NAME THEM and gain a power over them. Examples might “I’m not good enough!”, “I have to work harder than everyone else to be valued”, “What I do must be perfect”
Another way of looking at this is to be aware of your egoic voice sitting there on your shoulder. The ego voice can whisper in your ear, “They are not listening to you …you must beat him …he is a threat to you …you can’t do this etc.” Even being aware of this voice – in itself helps defeat it. But don’t see the ego voice as a battle to win. It will love that and like the chameleon – will slide away but sneak back up on you in another disguise. Sometimes it helps to write down what the ego voice whispers. This can, in time, erase the inner tape and replace it with a more positive, constructive tape linked to your core values
Some form of awareness leading to ‘capturing’ assists in this area.
Firstly, you have to mine for the words of the inner tapes (often this will be better assisted by a professional coach or mentor) – but you can do it yourself. One technique is to just ‘gush’ your inner thinking (unfiltered and uninterrupted) onto sheets of paper.
Secondly, once mined sit back and see if you can identify patterns or beliefs beneath what you have written. Again each person has their own way of doing this. Some like to journal, some like to ‘talk things out’ with a trusted friend, some like to ‘mull it over’ while jogging or walking – whatever works for YOU.
Finally, it brings you into the present moment:
All we have is the present moment. Too many of us are trapped in the past full of regrets and missed opportunities. Too many of us live in the future, “One day I will be fit …” when all we have is the now.
It is in the present moment – the now – that we will become the best me I can be – we choose to do it NOW. And if we choose to do it in this NOW and then the next NOW and then the next NOW – we become it.
When we grow into a deep presence in the present moment – our life changes for the better immediately.
How do we grow into greater awareness?
Find your way of slowing down. Some examples might be;
- Instead of an extra cup of coffee during work time – go for a short walk outside (especially if you can get into nature in some way). During this time spend some time deliberately and slowly breathing in deeply OR focus totally on some element of nature – light bouncing off the water, a leaf, a flower etc.
- Begin your day with a time of meditation in some way. Key to this time will be deeply more aware breathing and focussed attention on the breathing – this disciplines our monkey mind.
- Do a weekend yoga session, long run or walk.
- Get into nature; it is a great teacher and healer. Go fishing, go hiking, walk the beach, go surfing.
- Have some quiet time each day alone – choose to catch a ferry to work, go for an early morning walk, have a twenty minute ‘sit’ to begin your day, for an afternoon jog, a gym session – whatever. But during this time either leave your mobile phone at home or turn it totally off. You will discover that you look forward to this time. Call it your ‘me-time’.
- On a more macro level – plan one day in your week where you ‘slow down’ – spend time playing golf, time in the garden, time reading, listening to music, playing with your children – but again – leave your phone at home or turn it totally off. Gift yourself with this time. Perhaps that one day a week will be complemented by a weekend each month when you and your partner go away for the weekend or go for a longer walk – do whatever helps you ‘drink from your well’ of stillness.
- Never put off the annual holiday away. The annual holiday does not need to be expensive. It will take you several days just to slow down – but we need it for our physical, psychological, spiritual and intellectual health.
- Discipline your monkey mind.
- Discover YOUR way to get a space – a break – between the stimulus and the response. At times this is not possible in the immediacy of the moment but the awareness will grow more skills in this area. But where you can – write a draft of the email and let it sit, don’t return the phone call immediately, go for a short walk ….whatever helps you get that space that brings back balance and perspective.
- Regularly step back and take a longer / macro view.
- Do the homework before the meeting or the encounter so that your ego is ‘in its place’ and the chameleon won’t surprise you.
- Identify positive proactive responses to your inner tapes – erase the old tapes and in a positive, practical way retape the messages you want to guide your personal and professional life.
- Affirm yourself when you have engaged in a non-reactive / autopilot way – celebrate it in some way
Awareness is one of the great challenges of modern life because everything around us is tempting us into the opposite. Universal Men are aware and present because this is where we are at our absolute best.
Dial up your awareness legends.
Grego and Pricey