Today’s better person principle is that raising your awareness is nearly always the first step in being better. Awareness is a long word with a lot of syllables, but all it really means is seeing without judgment.
Even though it’s a simple concept, awareness is a pretty rare and wonderful thing, like an orchid in a sea of carnations. Because it’s a lot more convenient to not pay attention to stuff–particularly your own stuff. Maybe you’re just too busy to slow down and notice what’s really going on with you. Maybe you’re trying to protect yourself, because the act of seeing how we’re not living up to our potential can be painful. Or maybe you’ve just never learned how to be present to your own experience. And it’s so easy to distract yourself with other things, whether it’s screens, drama, alcohol, what have you.
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
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Raising your awareness of your own thoughts and behaviors might seem scary, but really, it’s a relief.
Being able to see things clearly is how you start to make better choices. It’s also an easy and effective way to wade into change.
Maybe you realize that you are continually doing something that is contributing to feeling like a not-great person. Could be little, like you’re continually running late and making people wait. Or something big, like you pick fights with your partner when you’re anxious because it feels safer to be angry than to be scared. The first step in both of those instances is to take a step back and just let yourself see what there is to be seen about this particular thing that you subconsciously do. You get curious, and ask yourself, what’s really going on here? Kind of the way a parent looks at a child to assess how they’re feeling. What do you notice? What do you sense?
Here’s something about raising your awareness that’s kinda sneaky…
Sometimes, you raise your awareness, and you don’t like what you see.
I mean, it’s very natural to turn your attention away from something about yourself and/or your life that you don’t like. So maybe, when you start observing what’s really going on with you, there might be some stuff that’s surprising, and maybe even upsetting.
That is so natural and common and OK.
My best advice is to remember this other truth about awareness, which is that often times, just raising your awareness helps the thing you don’t like start to shift. It’s a scientific principle that the outcome of any experiment is impacted simply through the act of observation. Turning your attention to something shifts the energy. It’s sort of like when you’re driving on the highway, and you find yourself looking at someone in the car next to you. Somehow, that person can feel your eyes on them, and will turn to look at you.
(I’m not the only one who looks at people in their cars, am I?)
So, after raising your awareness of something, what you see doesn’t feel all that good, resist the urge to go back to your unseeing ways. And know that just being present to whatever is going on will help it shift.
Here’s your take away: You can’t change a habit you don’t know you have.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to practice your powers of observation when it comes to your own behavior. If you get ticked off about something today, ask, what is really upsetting me here? If you feel the urge to do something, whether it’s get up from your desk to have a snack or plop on the couch and watch a show, ask yourself, what are the possible reasons I feel like doing this right now? Maybe you’ll find that you’re not hungry, really, but you’re trying to put off doing some kind of work that you don’t want to do. (Um, I do this all the time!)
Maybe you really need to just chill the heck out and be transported by a show, but maybe you’re just doing it out of habit and there’s something else that might make you feel better. Just see what there is to see. You don’t have to fix it, or change course. You just have to be curious enough to notice what’s really happening.
And be sure to come back tomorrow, when I’m covering better person principle #3–there’s an opportunity inside every challenge.