When you were a kid, did anyone ever ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? What did you answer? Firefighter? CSI Investigator? Marine biologist? Teacher?
Now that you are a grown up, what are you? Or, a better question, who are you?
You may be able to list some roles you fill in your life: mom, grandpa, employee, volunteer, neighbor, homemaker. But who are you inside? What are your thoughts, feelings, and emotions? Do you even know?
Adults often go through the daily grind mindlessly. Every now and then our mind may shake us awake and ask what am I doing with my life? Who am I?
When might this question pop up?
Sometimes this question is defined as a mid-life crisis.
Or you may not be at mid-life yet, but you are bored and looking for something new and some way to grow as a person.
You may be going through a life transition such as a move, death of a loved one, or a new season of life.
Cathy had been in mom-mode for a long time.
She loved cooking big meals for her five children and making sure they were packing healthy lunches. She knew what everyone liked and didn’t like and made sure that at each meal each child liked at least one thing. She never considered herself in the menu plan, however. It was complicated enough to just get the kid’s taste bud’s satisfied. But now her youngest had left for college and her dinner table has gone down to just two-Cathy and her husband. At first she thought the menu planning would be easier without anyone else’s taste preferences to consider, but when she sat down to make her first menu, she tried to think of a meal that she liked and realized she had no idea what SHE liked to eat. She had considered everyone else’s tastes for so long she had lost touch of her own self. Cathy decided she needed to take some time to develop her self-awareness.
What are some common practices that develop self-awareness?
- Journaling. This could be journaling about your past. Who and what has shaped who we are today? Journaling can also be about the present, a daily ritual. Acknowledging and recording our emotions can help us understand who we are today and where our strengths and weaknesses lie.
- Learning more “feelings” words. Move beyond happy and sad and add to your vocabulary a wide range of emotions. Use these words to pinpoint more exactly your emotional state.
- Walking or jogging outside. Leave the headphones at home so you can give your mind a chance to just be.
- Asking for feedback from others. Choose someone who knows you well, but will be honest and kind. Ask them who you are. Be ready to listen with humility and without offense.
- Getting rid of multitasking. Pay attention to what is right in front of you. Put down the phone, close the laptop, turn off the music, and be willing to sit in silence.
- Practicing martial arts. Many who practice martial arts see long term benefits in personal growth and understanding of who they are. This has happened time and again to adults who join our aikido classes at Emerald City Aikido. Even those who practice for a short time experience long term benefits in the development of self-awareness.
What about you? What one practice will you implement this week to develop your self-awareness? What other practices have helped you that were not mentioned here? We look forward to sharing the path to self-awareness with you at Emerald City Aikido.