Be led by your feelings, not your thoughts

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Deciding to be actively more self-aware can be really daunting. Very often we're scared we may uncover something we don't like, and presume that an 'ignorance is bliss' approach is the best way to go. The problem with this however, is that without committing to practices in self-awareness, we are at risk of not knowing how best to identify - and meet - our emotional needs. (Of course becoming more self aware can also help us be accountable for how our behaviour impacts on those around us as well). I find very often that clients will decide how they want to 'be' in a certain situation, and presume that their feelings will follow. For example, they may have a dinner coming up with old friends who are high achievers and so they decide they will present as being confident, capable and energetic, in an attempt to suppress feelings of inferiority or Impostor Syndrome. The problem is that if they happen not to feel that way when the event arrives, they can risk feeling really disconnected and unauthentic. As a first step towards increasing self awareness, I often ask clients to switch this around and let their thoughts and behaviours be led by their feelings. Just arrive, see how you feel in your body and respond accordingly. This is a lot easier than it sounds, particularly for the people pleasers! Another way to develop self awareness is to adopt practices used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which suggests that we are able to live fulfilled lives when our behaviour aligns with our valued life direction. A useful (and sometimes uncomfortable way) to get an idea of what you currently value is to look at where you're putting all your social, emotional and physical energy. Whatever you're getting out of your current activities is what you value most at the moment. The good news is, if you don't like what you discover, you can take an informed approach to developing behaviours which align with what's most important to you. Look at your weekly diary and consider how you are spending most of your time and energy. Then consider whether you'd like to play with the ratios!

What You'll Need

  • Pen and paper

What You'll Do

  • Let your thoughts and behaviours be led by your feelings
  • Adopt practices used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Keep a diary
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