In coaching and in achieving change, self-awareness is a key skill that requires constant honing and practice. Wikipedia defines self-awareness as
“the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.”
The capacity for introspection is the most important aspect for creating positive change. This is because the ability to know yourself, to know your idiosyncrasies and to know how you cope with situations enables conscious ‘pattern interruption’ to make better decisions for long-term health, or to respond to fear courageously, or to just say ’no.’
I’d add that this separateness enables recognising oneself as capable of changing the environment as well as changing yourself.
For example, I know that I really struggle with self-control on evenings when I get home from work at 8:30 or later. At these times, I’ve found myself eating half a jar of peanut butter, finishing a block of chocolate and eating tomorrow’s prepared meals. Obviously, this isn’t great!
Acknowledging it for what it is let me change the behaviour for the better. So first, the next time I went to the fridge door, I paused and reminded myself that I am a healthy person, and really, healthy people do not do this.
Naturally, this only half worked.
Maybe I had a tablespoon (or three) of peanut butter rather than half a jar. It’s a step in the right direction.
Now it was strategy time. I realised that this behaviour was often me misinterpreting dehydration as hunger and then wanting to reward myself after a long day at work. Then the inconvenience of cooking a proper meal was too big at that time.
Ah ha the insight!
So I began preparing a small meal I could have before leaving work such that I wasn’t grumpy, hungry or irritable. I ensured that good hydration habits were maintained all the way into evening sessions, and I placed a handful of dark chocolate bars in the fridge at home.
Hydrated, fed, happy, rewarded. It’s simple.
It would have been too easy for the days to roll into months, and the months to roll into years, where I continued to wolf down random collections of food every night before bed. Now though, I have taken control of the habit and made it work for me.
On the whole, it seems to me that this is the main reframe we need with our lives. Habits are habits, they will always be a part of us and how we live. Then they can help us or hinder us. Habits can also be reactionary or proactive – that is, we candesignour habits to improve our lives or our habits can rule us to despair and dis-ease.