Healthy Beginnings

Embracing self-awareness – what does it take to make a difference?

Tabor Griswold, program director for the UNR School of Medicine’s Nevada Health Workforce Research Center, participates in a Reno Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movements class. Photo: Carole Bucher

As a personal empowerment skill, experts agree there’s nothing more critical than self-awareness. Yet habit, ego, social pressures and even too few neural pathways prevent people from working on it consciously. They usually resort to it only when facing an inescapable need for change in themselves or their environment.

Below are certain qualities that self-awareness is known to improve. These characteristics accelerate personal growth, improve relationships with family and friends, and increase your ability to contribute effectively to community on every level, even politically. See what resonates:

  1. Being proactive instead of reactive — make better choices in what you say and do.
  2. Becoming more neutral in discussions — listen more carefully.
  3. Developing healthy boundaries — take things less personally.
  4. Understanding that mistakes (yours and others) are necessary to grow and learn.
  5. Transforming judgment into curiosity — be more interested in everything.
  6. Learning what makes you ‘tick’ so you can see yourself and others with more humanity, as thinking, feeling, conscious beings.

If these possibilities inspire you to explore, let’s deconstruct how lack of awareness can derail your possibilities; create negative, inauthentic behaviors; and generally disempower you. It goes like this:

  • Thoughts arise out of the blue (based on what you see/hear, your associations, memories, insights, even intuition).
  • Thoughts produce emotional responses that you are often not aware of.
  • Emotional responses can be felt/sensed in your body as physical feelings.
  • These feelings/sensations can evoke actions or reactions that you may carry out, consciously or unconsciously.

E.g., you see something that reminds you of a sad or violent movie; you get depressed or angry without noticing, argue with your colleagues or spouse, or worse, completely misunderstand someone’s behavior because you’re lost in an imaginary place having NOTHING to do with reality. You might even get into a physical fight based on “nothing,” although you think you’re right. Serious uh oh! Our thoughts aren’t trustworthy!

However, when you learn to feel more deeply in your body, you can pause and self-inquire, use the physical feelings as reminders to check in with yourself, and test the validity of your conclusions or judgments before you say or do anything.

You can track the physical and emotional feelings back to your thoughts and stop getting lost or dragged down an emotional rabbit-hole where distortion happens and bad choices loom. You can discover and assess the emotions underneath your reactions.

You’ll see that your perceptions are sometimes off base and/or disconnected from reality, especially about other people. Or, you may validate your perceptions. But you’ll avoid inaccurate conclusions and misunderstandings, large and small, because you are deciphering the feelings in your body intelligently.

The biggest, most mysterious benefit from self-awareness is your connection to the innate wisdom of your nervous system. Here, doors open to better physical, mental and emotional health. You get along better in the world, understand more, are less fearful and negative — an empowering payoff for your work.

Commit to learn about yourself — body and mind — and watch the transformation in your life — your gift to yourself and the world! Wishing you a wonderfully moving holiday!

Carole Bucher, BA, is a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais practitioner/teacher and owner of Reno Feldenkrais Integrative Movement. Visit renofeldenkrais.blogspot.com to learn more.