This week we dive deeper into being AWARE of ourselves and we talk about WHY awareness is key to our growth.
WHAT IS REACTION AWARENESS?
Reaction awareness is understanding how you naturally react to failure, stress, or any unwanted situation and recognizing the ways you act or think as mechanisms of the story you are telling yourself. You have the ability to gain awareness of those reactions and, therefore, gain power over difficult emotions tired to difficult situations.
Listen to this audio note and learn more about Reaction Awareness in the next lesson:
Why You Need It?
REASON 1: There is power in owning the fact that you control your reactions to situations. You have a choice in how you respond.
REASON 2: If you believe your reactions are a direct effect of a situation you’ll be on a roller coaster of emotions your entire life. Feeling more in control can improve the quality of your life.
REASON 3: Being aware of your typical gut reaction to failure can help you disassociate it from “who you are” and label it as “something you do.”
REASON 4: Being aware allows you to change something you see. If you can’t see it, you can’t change it.
What It Has Done For Others
Reaction awareness is the first step in a journey to change for many people. In a lot of cases, the need for change comes from experiencing the “bad times” first. Fitness expert, Amber Dodzweit, realized that she was striving to look a certain way on the outside while remaining broken on the inside. Se had everything she thought she wanted- magazine covers, people recognizing her on the street, and asking her how she does it. Even with all of this “good” on the outside, she experienced extreme guilt, anger, and sadness in reaction to any threat to her physical appearance.
Her reactions to gaining weight or to eating outside of her strict diet sent her into tailspins of guilt. She slowly started to realize that those were her way of knowing that things had to change. When she starting to recognize her self-destructive behavior, she was able to do the work to change her whole outlook on what she should be aiming for and teaching other women to strive for.
What It Can Do For You?
Being aware of your reactions can help you change the patterns that keep you in your rut you feel accustomed to.
Awareness not only can get to you to see what has escaped your attention, but being specifically focused on your reactions can move you from feeling like things happen to you and you have little control into a place where you feel that no matter what happens- you control how you feel about them.
Sounds easy when you say it, right?
"All I have to do is pay more attention to what I do after a failure and take responsibility for how I choose to think and respond? Right, Ok. Totally doable."
But what about the feelings we can’t really control? What about when we can't get perspective because we are lost in the moment?
PRACTICING AWARENESS CAN SAVE US
Paul Ekman recognizes how hard (and sometimes impossible) it is to control our emotions. The rut you are in is happening because you are emotionally tied to it. Creating more awareness for how you are letting this process go on will help you to break free.
The point here is not to suppress what we feel, because we have little control over what makes us emotional.
The goal is to know when we are acting based on emotion, and to make sure those reactions are able to communicate how we feel instead of lead us to act in a way that detrimental to our growth.
My research has shown that people would like to be able to choose what they become emotional about and how they behave when they are emotional. But we don't really have that choice. The key to both is having better awareness.
Usually we are not aware that we are emotional until afterwards, when we say something like, “Oh, I lost my head.” Well, you didn't lose your head; you just lost your awareness of what you were feeling at the moment. It is in the nature of emotions, I believe, that you shouldn't have that choice.
Your emotions should be running this show, not the rational decision-making part of you. [...] We have a mechanism that appraises what’s going on very quickly, senses danger, and responds without thought. And it saves our lives. But it also means that we sometimes react quite inappropriately. Like when there really is no danger, and the response we give isn’t the right response.
How To Gain Reaction Awareness
Complete week 2 journal entries.
Consequences of Not Having Awareness
Lack of self-awareness deters people from being close to you. If you lack the ability to see how you are reacting, you often also can’t see how your reactions affect others.
We all know people who have little self-awareness and it strikes us as obnoxious, among possibly other traits. Many of us crave being understood and the first step to that is grasping how the outside world might perceive us.
What Are Your Stories?
“The way we navigate our inner world – our everyday thoughts, emotions, and self-stories – is the single most important determinant of our life success. It drives our actions, careers, relationships, happiness, health; everything.” - Susan David
Awareness of our reactions may first start as noticing what we physically do following a failure, but we quickly realize that our thoughts, emotions, and self-stories, as Susan David says- are the REASONS for those reactions.
THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES
As we start becoming more aware of the patterns we see in our reactions, those reactions are likely tied to a narrative we believe about ourselves.
Whether we always take the perspective of the "victim" when our coach has advice for us or really believe that one of our teammates is the "favorite" and you won't ever start over her, those stories will 100% affect your thoughts RIGHT AFTER an event.