Practising Self-Awareness

An Intuitive Guide to Being Okay

Written by Tom Tran

Image by Rod Sot

Be sure to check out Tom's previous article, TIP 1: Being Present as well!

TIP 2: Practice Self-Awareness

I believe the first step in confronting any problem in life and what it takes to be okay is being self-aware. When it comes to negative emotions, there is a saying:

“People will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure” - Tony Robbins 

I believe that this statement is a reflection of modern society and the way we function. We often put our negative emotions aside, instead of confronting them head-on. We, as a society, have been conditioned to favour immediate satisfaction over delayed gratification. So, as we begin on that journey to being okay, becoming more present and aware of your thoughts is key.

Confronting your “negative” emotions sounds a lot easier said than done. I still struggle with this daily, simply because we live in a world with an abundance of information and stimuli to distract us from our emotions. The prevalence of smartphones acts as an “escape” tool for us to momentarily set aside our negative emotions and replace them with temporary pleasure. 

A perfect display of what happens when you continuously hide and push away your negative emotions is vividly portrayed in the Disney film, Inside Out. The more our protagonist avoided sadness, the more her mental and physical state suffered, accentuating the previous quote. The more we bury our emotions, the more we overfill the bottle. Eventually, it will leak, spill, and then shatter… 

In saying this, we can’t expect ourselves to be present 100% of the time. But, I believe that if you improve your presence by at least 1% each day, you will see major changes in your life. 

As a start, I recommend that you try and briefly separate yourself from your thoughts and emotions. It would help if you attempted to observe yourself objectively, as if from a third-person perspective. I remember trying this for the first time and was shocked by my brain and thoughts spewing the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard spoken. In this moment, I realised that sometimes your brain isn’t always right. It will often overthink and project unrealistic thoughts. When you feel that negative emotion enter you, breathe slowly, close your eyes and allow it to enter and leave. This doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge it, but instead, try and understand that most of your negative emotions stem from you not being okay, be it from past mistakes or the fear of the future.

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