When you call yourself a teacher of self-awareness, it can feel a little paradoxical to admit that being self-aware does not come easy.
Self-awareness doesn’t come naturally to me or any of us human beings, given our natural instinct is to resist whatever challenges us to grow and change.
To be self-aware, you need willingness to admit you don’t have it all figured out. Click To Tweet
To be self-aware, you need willingness to admit you don’t have it all figured out. That you might not be right. That the way you’re doing things is just not working for you.
In my own life, I cannot think of a single time, when these admissions have come easily. But in the heat of the moment, full-blown emotional reactivity always feels like it’s protecting me.
Popping off with a sarcastic remark feels like I’m being heard.
Pushing the blame on others feels like the solution.
Launching impulsively into action feels like the surest way to get the problem behind me, pronto!
Emotional reactivity feels like the easy choice. But it’s certainly not the smart choice. Because when the dust settles and the smoke clears, the end result is nearly always the same: a truck load of pain and confusion, and an even bigger mess.
Let me explain.
When I was a young mother, I spent years trying to protect my kids from the impact of the dysfunction around them. Although their father was addicted to opioids, he and I were pretty skilled at managing the family image. Outwardly, we looked like the family that had it all. But the real story unfolding inside the four walls of our home was a family buckling under the weight of inauthentic emotional reactions like shame, blame and guilt.
And we lived like this for decades. If you could call it living.
By the time I mustered the courage to seek a divorce, my children were adults. By then, they had lived their entire lives watching me order my life through the lenses of shame and guilt. I knew it was time for a massive change, and I thought my newfound self-awareness would empower me to close the door on the powerful and damaging reactive emotions I had been running on for so long.
But it wasn’t that easy.
As I gained more and more clarity, it became obvious to me: What I had been excusing as survival mechanisms during my marriage continued to resurface as unacceptable emotional reactions after my divorce. I was flabbergasted.
I had separated myself from the stressful situation.
So I thought my shame and guilt would disappear with it. But I was wrong.
I still had debilitating fear of uncertainty.
I still faced insecurity over moving into the world on my own.
I still struggled with guilt and shame about my past choices.
I had been acting out some very specific patterns for decades and those patterns had become habitual. Whenever I faced a stressful situation, I fell right back into those same patterns. The hard truth was that…
Like the deep and gnarled roots of a tree, these emotional patterns of reactivity weren’t going to be easily eradicated.
It became clear to me that stress and all its emotionally reactivity were NOT going away without some real and determined effort. If I wanted real change in my life, I needed a new approach. And that new approach became the fundamental Practice of my program, the Inner Peace Blueprint™.
Here is what I did:
Every time I felt myself getting hijacked by shame, guilt, self-pity, insecurity or fear, I quelled those reactions by relaxing my physical tension and focusing on my breathing. This is the most basic technique I used – the Practice of posture and breath.
When I felt I couldn’t trust myself (or others), I would do the Practice.
When insecurity hit me as I imagined being on my own after 36 years of marriage, I would do the Practice.
When fear washed over me as I listened to my children talk about their own emotions surrounding the divorce, I would do the Practice.
Remembering to do the Practice required a lot of discipline, which was no surprise to me. For my entire life, I had been reacting emotionally, getting stuck in my head and getting nowhere fast. It was a deeply ingrained habit and really hard to break.
But not challenging this habit was simply no longer an option, so I stuck with the Practice. Every time I paused to relax my body and breathe, I was able to calm myself down a little. Eventually, all the little bits of calm started adding up to a lot more calm.
Think about it this way: The Practice requires discipline because it’s changing your emotional pattern in a fundamental way. It’s a simple tool that requires your intentional focus and promises sustainable, lasting transformation.
I’ve started a discussion over on Facebook, asking you to share one area where you feel you might benefit the most from a simple awareness practice like this one. Head there now and share your thoughts!
Take good care : )