The Top 3 Practice Points for Gaining Self Awareness

A couple of years ago I went to a one day meditation retreat with Cheri Huber. One of the guided meditations centered on practice. She said that everything in life is practice. And she meant EVERYTHING!

At first, I was skeptical. I know that as a musician, the way I practice is the way I perform. For example, I insist that my music students focus on their breathing technique – even when goofing off and playing for their friends. Why? The more they breathe correctly in “fun play,” the more likely they are to breathe correctly when on stage. What about the students who ignore my advice? They are the very ones who have a difficult time on stage and perform below their ability.

The way I carry myself, view myself, beliefs I hold about myself, my actions, my repetitive is all practice. All of these things prepare me for my day and ingrain a pattern of behavior that repeats – exactly as I practice it.

There are three evaluation points that we must pay attention to, in order to gain self awareness. They include thoughts, actions, and beliefs. Here are the top three questions to ask yourself:

What beliefs do I practice?
What thoughts and feelings go through my mind daily to prepare me for the kind of life I am living?
What automatic actions do I take on a regular basis? What actions are instant reactions instead of decisions?

First, lets take a look at your thoughts. If I could record all of the thoughts that go through your mind every day, what would I hear? What kind of things do you talk to yourself about? What do you wish you could say to other people? What thoughts are you practicing, mindlessly? I call this mind chatter. Everyone does it. The quality of it is what makes a difference in your day.

Is your mind chatter sarcastic? Defensive? Explanatory? Pleading? Having a pity party? Pay attention to what your mind is telling you – pay close attention to how your mind is telling you these things.

After you have the gist of your thought patterns, turn your attention to your actions. What behaviors do you repeat and practice without even noticing? Do you bite your fingernails? Do you exercise excessively? Overeat? Pace in worry? Talk fast? Feel like you are in a hurry? Sleep too much? Repetitive actions are usually a signal to yourself that there is an unexpressed emotion.

For example, I was acting very competitively over the past month or so. My body felt like it was in competition, even when it wasn't. Why? Because I neglected that part of me. That emotional trait had been deprived for a couple of months. If I had not paid attention to the small signs – the small repetitive actions – I could have gotten myself into a sticky and unnecessary situation. Because of this awareness evaluation, I noticed them, and am now taking care of it. I found a gym where I felt comfortable, with people who will push me to my limit – and allow me to push back. Problem solved.

Take some time to think about your actions. What repetitive actions do you take? What actions do you respond to automatically? Just take note.

Last, what about our beliefs? Our beliefs shape who we are and how we see the world around us. This one is worth spending some time with.

What kind of person are you? What things are you good or bad at? What struggles do you face? What things do you dread or look forward to? Why? Jot down your thoughts as they come up. No judgment, just facts.

The practice of your beliefs creates your reality. Your brain will begin to believe the beliefs to be true; it will then scan your environment for evidence that they are true. For example, if you believe you are weak, and you practice that belief in your mind, your brain will look for examples to prove that it is true.

The heavy trash can you have trouble taking to the street? Proof that you are weak. The car door that seems heavier than normal? Proof that you are weak. The workout that did not go very well? More proof that you are weak. Then, your body will begin to react to your environment as if you are truly weak. You will unconsciously begin to avoid heavy objects and perform below ability in your work outs.

The unfortunate part of this story is that you are actually strong. The trash can is heavier this week because someone dumped an old steel wheel in it while you were not looking. And the car door? It was a friend's car that needs its hinges greased. Remember the workout that did not work out. Your brain “forgot” that you were sick the night before from the 24 hour flu that was going around. Your body was still in its recovery stage.

The brain does not pick up on these logical explanations because it is too busy looking for confirming evidence that you are weak.

This is why it is a good idea to spend a great deal of time evaluating your belief systems. Make sure they are factually true.

Author's Bio: 

Sybil R Smith is a life coach and expressive arts therapist. She has a wide range of expertise, including music therapy, hospice, child psychotherapy, EMDR, and a M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy. She has helped clients deal with a range of issues including anxiety and panic disorders, life transitions, depression, and grief. Her mission is to show people how to live empowered lives so they can move past therapy and into forward motion. Sybil R Smith uses her training as a musician and performer to present creative ways to help move people through anxiety, depression, and grief to create smooth and joy-filled transitions. You can sign up for her thought-provoking EZine and meet her at