The other night, I had a meltdown when my husband got angry with me. It was something so small and silly, but for some reason, it set me off. As tears began to pour down my cheeks, I found it in me to remind myself to be mindful. I made sure that I was aware of what I was feeling, but most importantly I paused and analyzed why I felt this way. I have come to realize that finding balance between the emotional side of my brain and the logical side of my brain is something that I struggle with.
“Each time we make a choice, it is my belief that our left-brain arm-wrestles with our right. The left (and more pragmatic side) tells us to act logically while our right puts up a dramatic fight for following the heart’s content.”
In fact, for most people, a large percentage of the time emotion wins this ever-going arm wrestle. It is observed that 80% of choices are driven by emotions while practicality and objectivity only represent about 20% of decision-making. The more I entertain the thought of this, the more I consider the fact that life is shaped around the decisions we make… So I better start learning to make some goods ones!
“Forget about making a decision when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. The acronym “HALT” is exactly the point here: DON’T DO IT! If you make a decision while feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (or God-forbid some combination of more than one of the above) emotion wins 100% of the time and will likely push you in the wrong direction.”
I know most of us have heard about, or experienced getting ‘hangry.’ So hungry you get angry… It’s real. But back to the point, I am determined to grow more self aware of the fact that I am a very emotional person (especially when depressed and my self confidence is almost nonexistent). I tend to base my decisions, and my reactions to situations, off of subjectivity.
“This may mean you will look for harmony and dislike conflict but it also means you will spot the nuances and see things that would be lost on those who focus only on the logic of the decision.”
Being the ‘feelings type,’ I experience situations completely differently than my husband, who is more of the ‘thinking type.’ He is one to value truth and logical analysis over emotion. He is always the one to be rational, while I am the one upset that he doesn’t pickup on my verbal (or non-verbal) cues about how I am feeling. Because of this, he usually ends up feeling like I am being illogical, overemotional, irrational, and inconsistent. While I end up concluding that he is being inconsiderate, harsh, and uncaring. Do you see how this can be an obstacle in a relationship? 🙂 Becoming more self aware has been crucial in improving our relationship.
Self awareness isn’t just important in relationships though. As you develop self awareness you gain more power to make changes in the thoughts and interpretations you make in your mind. When you have the ability to change the interpretation in your mind of what you think, you can change your emotions. See the significance? This kind of self awareness makes it almost impossible for your emotions to rule you, unless you choose to give them the upper hand. I don’t know about anyone else but having the ability to change my emotions sounds extraordinary!! Where do I sign up?!?
“Think of learning to be mindful and self aware as learning to dance. When learning to dance we have to pay attention to how and where our feet move, our hands and body motion, what our partner is doing, music, beat, floor space, and other dancers. Dancing isn’t learned from books and Self Awareness isn’t either. A dancer needs awareness of their body movements. Self awareness is what you develop when you pay attention to your expressions of thought, emotions, and behavior.”
Changing an emotional reaction, behavior, or belief can be challenging. It is uncomfortable at first and requires a lot of practice. After a while, with awareness it simply becomes a matter of common sense not to believe negative thoughts or unconsciously follow old patterns of emotions. So which would you rather do, challenge yourself to develop skills that you will reap the benefits of for the rest of your life, or live the rest of your life with limiting emotional reactions and destructive behaviors? Just something to think about…
I have a history of emotional reactions and destructive behaviors. I have become conscious of it and I have finally decided that I am going to do what I can to change it. I am starting my journey to self awareness by learning to decrease my subjectivity, and increase my objectivity. I am focusing on seeing and accepting things as they are without projecting my fears, mental models, and past experiences onto them, and responding thoughtfully and deliberately to the people, challenges and opportunities in my life.
What would your first step in becoming more self aware be? Are you more of an emotional thinker or logical thinker? Share your thoughts!