“When we are capable of stopping, we begin to see, and if we can see, we understand. – Thich Nhat Hanh
The unknown is often a bit anxiety provoking. Generally, our natural inclination is to attempt to predict the future. Likewise, our brain is hardwired to draw upon previous experience when making predictions as it responds to our anxiety and works to keep us safe.
Unfortunately, this pattern can sometimes cause us to unknowingly gather evidence to support these expectations and get us stuck believing the same outcomes will occur. As we gather biased evidence, we grow more certain that our predictions are true, and we foreclose on other possibilities. Unknowingly, we close ourselves off to new possibilities and therefore opportunities for growth.
Awareness allows us to begin shifting away from this pattern by helping us to not panic or become driven by anxiety when presented with challenges or new information. Awareness allows us to slow down the entire process and observe, rather than react or become stuck.
As we practice developing our awareness, we can notice what is occurring inside of us. We can become aware of the sensory-perceptual information from within as we notice feelings, physical sensations, and thoughts. We can open space for the curiosity that is foundational for self-knowledge and the flexibility that is central to resilience.
Quieting ourselves and slowing down by focusing on awareness allows for greater possibilities to emerge. Furthermore, shifting towards awareness and curiosity often decreases our fears and creates space for the participant observer role as we reflect on our experiences in the here-and-now.
Practicing awareness takes effort and requires physically and mentally slowing down to registrar and track our inner experiences.
Tips for Practicing Awareness
Slow down and pay deliberate attention to your experience.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Develop a daily meditation practice.
Eat and drink more mindfully.
Take short breaks between tasks to observe your feelings and reactions.
Develop an attitude of curiosity about yourself and your reactions to others.
Ultimately, when we can make awareness an ongoing way of experiencing the world, we will likely improve our informed decision-making and experience greater creativity and flexibility in how we respond to challenges. Lastly, a practice of ongoing awareness will support our resilience by improving self-regulation and bolstering confidence as we respond to the world from an increasingly authentic place based on our expanded connection to ourselves and the world around us.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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