It’s easy to say you desire to create a daily life you love, yet doing so often leaves folks feeling challenged around what they really desire. That challenge lies in the reality that we tend to live our lives on the surface, lost in our busyness and devoting our time to responsibilities. This leaves little time for the self-awareness, a process needed for diving into your heart and discovering what you most need for happiness and satisfaction.
The truth though is that the level of satisfaction around your life and your overall sense of happiness is fueled by how well you know yourself. Even if you aren’t actively seeking more self-awareness, your daily life is actually dictated by and informed by how well you do know yourself and your desires.
I’m not a fan of constant overlong navel gazing and excruciating self-analysis, because that can lend to the continued pursuit of perfection. But I can’t deny that your level of self-awareness will impact the choices you make. I’m talking both big and little choices, from how willing you are to pursue your goals, to how open to love and connection your will be, and how you respond to every up and down.
Confidence and happiness will stem from how well you know yourself. Yet, I know that many of the working pieces of your life feel dictated by your responsibilities, alarm clocks, and a growing list of have-to-dos. Stress, the demands of others, and overall busyness mean little downtime in your life. And when you have a smidgen of downtime – those fleeing moments of time to yourself – there’s always the lurking demands of text messages, emails, Facebook, Neflix, and more. And that’s not counting the real need to actually relax and spend some time pursuing a hobby or some sort of play.
Who, frankly, has time for diving into self-awareness?
No one has that kind of free time these days. But frankly, everyone can find a little time to gaze in the mirror and learn more about the person staring back at them.
I know that’s a bit of a oxymoron, yet I know from years of coaching and living my own life, the path to creating the kind of daily life you desire – and deserve – to live stems from carving out a bit of time to get to know the most important person in your life: yourself.
Because if you don’t find a way to dive into your own self-awareness, how can you answer those seemingly simple questions like:
- What do I want?
- Am I happy?
- What am I most passionate about?
- What would make my life feel more nourished?
Chances are, you have a quick response to all those big life questions. Yet, if you took a few moments to pause and check-in with your heart, you likely know that there is a deeper answer.
Is an epic quest the answer to real self-awareness?
I’m sure you’ve read a book or seen a movie where the main character goes on an epic journey to find themselves. It seems so glamorous, and despite some angst by that hero/heroine in the middle of the story, everything seems to draw to a happily ever after by the end. Purpose, passion, and deepest desires – often along with the perfect partner or job – arrive.
So, maybe you’re waiting to find yourself when you get time to take that epic dream trip to Paris or India or hiking through the wilderness. I can promise you that if you’re waiting for that magical trip so that the journey of self-awareness will be “easier” or more meaningful, then darling, you are wasting what precious time you have now. Because if you don’t think you have time to discover who you are because your life is so “busy” now, then I can promise you’ll likely never find the time to go on that epic adventure.
The time to live the kind of life you desire is now. Please don’t continue to waste the precious time and energy for living your life to the fullest by waiting for the perfect circumstances.
The answers aren’t hidden somewhere out there, though I admit that travel reveals who we are to ourselves. The answers also don’t depend on reading a bunch of self-help books or giving away everything you own or meditating for hours a day. Yes, all of these actions – meditation, clearing needless clutter, and books – can help you with the process, but there is a simpler way.
The best way I know to dig into that self-awareness of who you are and what you most desire is to dip your toes into the depths of yourself through an inquiry process. Sounds ominous in that way, but the core of the inquiry process is posing some bold, open-ended, and probing questions and answering them honestly.
Most of us tend to avoid vulnerability and tell ourselves a few little white lies. Yet, if I were to ask you how you can really get to know someone else, you’d say spending time with them, observing their habits, asking them questions, and listening to their answers. Answers that you hope are deeply honest.
The same goes for you. You have to be willing to be vulnerable and honest with yourself – to gaze into the mirror and see you for how you really are. I know from research – and experience – that vulnerability allows you to form a stronger connection with others and yourself.
And let’s not forget that other thing: honesty. It’s critical that you are honest with yourself. Even if you think your answers may sound selfish or greedy or materialistic, they aren’t. Because they are your truth.
“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off”
The answers you discover in your quest for self-awareness may make you angry, uncomfortable, or afraid. This is normal. This is why it’s important to be gentle. Just note, however, that it’s impossible to create the kind of lasting change you deeply desire without knowing exactly where you stand. the honestly.
Mini-Retreats for Self-Awareness
First let me say that you could do this by taking a weekend retreat at a local hotel. Or unplugging for a day at home. But honestly, the most gentle and effective approach is to pose a question or two to yourself a day. Or maybe every other day. Or maybe just once a week.
- Block off time. Like with all important meetings, consider this a sacred time for yourself. So I do recommend that you (a) decide how often you want to dig into your own self-awareness and then (b) block off a half-hour to an hour of time on your calendar each of those days to spend some quality time with YOU.
- Gather your supplies: a pen and some paper. You can choose a beautiful journal to write in or a plain old spiral notebook. I personally prefer the pen and paper method because this forces you to slow down, draws you into the moment, and helps you crystallize your answers. But if you must, you can choose do this in a Word document on your computer. (Just that you need to bring in more self-discipline in order to not flip over to Facebook to self-soothe or distract yourself with email or mindless surfing.)
- Choose support supplies – like a cup of coffee or tea, a favorite candle, or a favorite spot.
- Place Matters.It needs to be a place that feels nourishing and safe. Maybe it’s a favorite chair. Maybe it’s a museum café. Maybe it’s a local coffee shop. Both the supplies and the space for your dive into self-awareness must be easy to access so you don’t let excuses (aka fear) stand in the way of you keeping some sacred appointments with yourself.
- Make it special in some way, so that you send your mind and soul a signal that the time spent focusing on growing your self-awareness is sacred. Wear a favorite blouse. Write with a favorite pen that flows just perfectly. Do buy that beautiful notebook you’ve been wanting. Fix a cup of that favorite tea you save for company. Indulge in a perfect pain au chocolat that reminds you of Paris. Actually burning that expensive candle you love but don’t want to “waste”.
- Turn off or silence your phone (hello, Airplane Mode!). Don’t open a browsing window or email program on your computer. Better yet, disconnect from the internet. Play some music if you must, but choose something without lyrics or in a language you don’t speak.
- Choose a Question for the Day. Prepare by pre-selecting a single question and writing it in your journal. When you begin, simply begin to answer it on the page. Don’t think, just write.
In some ways, you’re interviewing yourself. A good interviewer prepares quality questions for her subject while remaining open to serendipity. He may ask questions no one else has the courage to ask. She chases an unclear answer with more questions to have a clearer picture of the interviewee. He also accepts that some questions have short answers. She also knows that some questions and those short answers can be deepened with follow up questions such as “Why?” and “What would that give you?”
But wait, you may be saying. Where do you start? What questions should you ask? What questions do you ask yourself?
Questions for Self-Awareness
“When we have arrived at the question, the answer is already near.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here are thirty questions to help you prepare for exploration into yourself. They are ones I ask myself and my clients and I’ve found them valuable. Feel free to answer all of them or only a few. The more time you invest in your own self-awareness, the greater your results. Approach this process as play.
- What questions should I be asking myself right now?
- How can I make my daily life feel easier? Feel free to dig into a specific time of day (mornings, evenings)
- What gifts, talents, or passions have I been hiding from myself? How am I burying my gifts and hiding them from others? How can I begin to engage with them more often?
- Am I staying in an unhealthy situation – relationship, job, etc. – due to guilt or fear? What are the pros and cons of getting out or walking away from it?
- Other than time or money, what do I want more of in my life?
- What small tweaks can I make to make my mornings feel less stressful and more nourishing?
- You’ve just inherited $100,000,000. Now that money is no longer an issue, what do you do with your life? Bonus: how can you start doing that – even just a bit – today?
- Where can I invest in myself? How might I invest in my home, my life, my personal growth, or happiness?
- What can I celebrate?
- Other than weight, what do you want less of in your life?
- What relationships in my life feel toxic? What relationships feel nourishing? How can I better invest in the nourishing ones and spend less time / energy on the toxic ones?
- What am I most grateful for in my daily life?
- What am I avoiding? And, why?
- What is my body trying to tell me? Do I listen to my body when it’s tired/hungry/achy/begging for movement, etc?
- Am I happy? What do I need to be happy?
- Who do I desire to BE in the world?
- What’s the worst thing that can happen if I choose to pursue (insert a specific goal or dream)? What’s the best thing that can happen?
- What little white lies do I tell myself or other people? Why?
- What rule do I need to break?
- What do I desire to experience in my life?
- What would your perfect day look like? (I have a downloadable worksheet to help)
- Does success scare me? In what ways might I be sabotaging myself because I’m afraid of succeeding?
- In what areas of my life am I underestimating myself?
- What assumptions am I making about (insert person’s name , a situation, a goal)
- What do I need to let go of?
- The ways I keep myself silent are…
- What do you hope people say about you at your funeral?
- Am I making choices in my life from a place of love…or fear?
- What’s missing from my life? What can I do to get it?
- What physical things do I desire in my life? (Don’t worry about sounding materialistic)
As you read through the questions and ponder choosing some of them for your own self-awareness experiment, pay particular attention to the ones that excite you and the ones that make you nervous. This is your body’s signal that those questions will provide important insight.
Note, too, that as you go through this process, new questions will arise. Either answer them as they come up or add them to your growing list. And be willing to revisit questions and answers that feel incomplete or ripe for additional exploration.
Where do you go from here?
The next step: translate your insights into yourself into reality – aka taking action. You may end a couple of mini self-awareness sessions with the belief that you need to change everything. Now. I’ll admit that’s a seductive, but unrealistic. A better approach is to create a plan and then choose a small area of your life to work on. Slow and stead wins the race, as they say.
Remember that you’re in charge of your life, so it may be that a series of three or five mini-sessions and you discover that it’s time to take a break of a few weeks or even months from your self-awareness experiment. This gives you a breather – and an opportunity to begin taking some action around what you’ve discovered you desire to shift in your world.
Know that you are always growing and evolving. This process of inquiry for self-awareness is always within reach whenever you feel stuck, come up against some challenges, or simply desire to love your life more. Yes, I know that this may feel indulgent, but you, my darling, are worth getting to know.
Want to do a mini-dive into self-awareness once a month?
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What can draw you deeper into your own story? To flesh out your memories, push your edges, and remind yourself of the significance in your way of being? How can devotion to your life and your own creativity propel you towards becoming besotted with not just yourself, but your whole life.
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