Aug 192007

I’d argue the average person doesn’t know themselves very well at all. And that’s a real problem, because without self-awareness, you’re essentially flying blind.

Let me explain what I mean: Say you want to change something. Unless you’re aware of how the situation is right now, you’re probably not going to be able to make strong headway. Take the goal of losing weight. If you don’t know exactly how much you weigh now and how much you want to lose, then there’s a very small chance of that particular goal becoming reality. This is about knowing some general, essentially biographical details about yourself.

Another thing that many PD gurus espouse is to catch your thoughts and change them. So, if you think, “I’m never going to be able to do this” you should change it. But there’s problems with that: very few people actually have that level of moment-to-moment self-awareness of their thoughts. Another problem is that very often there’s no actual thought that sounds like that, and when there is, it is so quick that its barely noticeable.

However, being able to catch your thoughts and select more empowering ones is an important skill to have, so it’d be useful to be able to have that level of moment-to-moment self-awareness. Here’s a few ways I’ve found to increase my moment-to-moment awareness:

1. Meditate

Regular meditation enhances mindfulness and moment-to-moment awareness of your own thoughts. And it doesn’t have to be long, start off with 5 minutes every day. Just sit down somewhere and try counting your breaths. Or try to “listen” to your thoughts and try to see how they “feel” in your own head.

Besides all the other benefits of regular meditation, I’ve found that I have a better awareness of what’s going on inside my head (including my thoughts and states) even when I’m not meditating.

2. “Feel” your thoughts

Each thought you have, like everything you say, has a certain feeling. There are some thoughts that feel “egoic” in my own head, especially when I start to feel prideful or petty. Other thoughts feel “angry” in my head. Seeing as how the point of choosing thoughts is to be able to select better feeling and more empowering thoughts, its a safe bet that thoughts that feel better are probably better to think.

So, instead of trying to follow your individual thoughts and trying to judge whether you are more empowering or less, you can just go by how they feel in your head. This one is a bit tricky because it takes practice. I setup sort of “flags” in my head that basically bring my bad feelings to my mind. I consciously know pretty quickly when I’m starting to feel bad and then I try to figure out why I’m feeling bad and change that state.

3. Maintain your state

You’d be surprised how many of your thoughts are not really your thoughts. I mean, they are not consciously chosen, but instead arise from various sources including your environment, your beliefs, your current emotional and physical state, your previous thought patterns, your general attitudes about the topics or events currently happening, and so on.

You can control some of these elements. Get the right amount of sleep consistently, for example. Eat right and excersize your body. Hang around with positive people. Read positive stories, books and articles. That kinda stuff.

I hope this helps.

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