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Awareness is the foundation for change. Without it is impossible to initiate any type of conscious change. When we have low or no awareness we go through life like zombies, marionettes, or a leaf blown by the wind.
Awareness is the knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. One of the characteristics of awareness is that it cannot be undone: once we become aware of something or someone, we cannot be unaware anymore.
The Law of Being says that who you are being is based on your level of conscious awareness of who you really are. For us to ‘be’, we need to increase our awareness. Only then, we can determine what and who we are going to attract and choose what kind of life we want for ourselves.
One of the main aspects of my work as a coach is to create awareness for my clients through thought-provoking questions and observations.
Increasing our awareness has many advantages such as enhancing our emotional intelligence, managing stress, reducing judgment and fear, and taking back control of any situation.
“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” Deepak Chopra
How can we increase our awareness?
1) Know thyself
Self-awareness is knowing your belief system, values, thoughts, feelings, emotional responses, etc. Realizing what is happening within and around you at any given point is crucial. This includes understanding what causes you stress as well as influencers and obstacles that may block your energy.
When we have this knowledge or awareness, we can make a conscious choice to continue doing what we are doing or to try something new. We decide how we are going to respond to each situation – we can even choose a different reaction to events similar to past ones.
My client Harold was promoted to lead a new group within his function at his company. One of his goals is to become a strategic thinker and planner. Having a new team and book of work presented him with a unique opportunity to learn this skill. During our session, through a series of questions, we discovered that Harold did not feel in control of his own destiny – life had thrown him many curve balls resulting in conditioning him to not dare to plan for the future. Once he had this realization about himself, Harold now had a choice: would he continue to be afraid of planning for the future or would he use his past experience to create stronger plans with multiple contingencies?
Another way to increase self-awareness is to take stock of what we are feeling physically, what emotions we are experiencing, or what thoughts are popping into our heads during a specific event or interaction with other people.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – C.G. Jung
2) Distinguish between true and Truth
One important component of awareness is awareness of reality, which is the ability to discern what is actually happening from our mind’s interpretation of what is occurring.
When we describe an event and include stories and explanations to what is happening, we are creating what is true for us, and not the Truth (i.e., the facts of what took place).
I love an anecdote about Mariano Rivera, New York Yankee baseball player and World Series Most Valuable Player. In describing his job, he said ‘I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower.’ I think we can all agree this description is absolutely factual.
The next time you are analyzing an event, pay attention to the words you are using such as good, bad, should have, etc., which are associated with judgment. Try to recount the event following Mariano Rivera’s job description and stick only to the facts, which do not have ego, emotion, or judgment attached to them.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin
3) Go deep
As part of increasing our awareness, we want to analyze a situation and consider both what we are and are not seeing.
For example, if one of your co-workers is curt with you during a meeting, we can perceive their behavior (facial expression, words they use, tone of voice, etc.). There are considerations we are not seeing such as what may have happened to them on their way to work, or at home. Perhaps they are preoccupied about something completely unrelated to the topic at hand.
When we are not performing to the best of our ability, we brainstorm on what might be off. There could be big factors such as receiving questions we did not expect, having issues with the Internet connection, or not having enough time or information to properly prepare for a big meeting.
There are also small factors that may seem unrelated and that we may discount as not important. If we did not have a proper breakfast, we may not have enough physical energy to conduct a performance review. If our new shoes are not as comfortable as we thought they were, it may be challenging to stand and deliver an awesome presentation to a new customer.
“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Increasing our awareness takes practice and it is the base for any personal and professional development goals we have. By making conscious choices to move past judgment, stories, and explanations we will pivot faster, create different outcomes, and see many more options at our disposal.
How do you go about increasing your awareness? Which of these tools will you try first? Please, let us know in the comments. You can write in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.
My mission is to help women transition from mid to senior level leadership positions by creating awareness, increasing emotional intelligence, and unveiling the tools and choices available to them so they can confidently realize and fulfill their potential.
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