When people come in for sport psychology coaching, one of the first things I tell my clients is that there is one skill that needs to be learned before anything else. Active awareness is the first skill that needs to be developed because without awareness you will have no ability to make the necessary changes. For example, if you are not aware of how frequently your negative self talk is, there is no way for you to alter that pattern of thinking.
Active awareness requires us to notice what is happening immediately inside us and around us. Most people are unaware of their inner dimension – the way they tend to think, the images they run, all the nuance of their being that are a product of their past and their current experiences. You are not your mind, you are not your body and you are not your feelings.
Each one of us is able to observe and be separate from our body, minds and feelings. You are able to observe your physical body, for example by getting messages telling you how strong, tired or healthy you are. You can go within yourself and observe what types of emotions you feel at any given moment. You can feel anger, sadness, joy and happiness. Feelings can change radically from moment to moment, which is why you are not them, as who you are does not change radically from one moment to the next.
Finally, you are distinct from your mind, you can “see” your thoughts and see them speaking to you but you are distinct from them. This is the most difficult one for people to grasp, but when you think of the times you have told your mind to do something, for example, to stop worrying about what you have to do tomorrow, it doesn’t listen. So “you” must be separate from your thoughts.
So who am “I”, then? “I” is the part of you that has the capacity to observe all of what is going on in and around you without becoming caught up in it. Each of us can move to a place within ourselves where we can observe what is happening at the mind/body/feeling level and remain unshaken by it. This position of observing, but not being dominated, by our inner state frees us to take the action we choose to take. Otherwise our anger, for example, might determine how we act, rather than our choosing how we want to respond.
Some tips on how to develop active awareness will be posted in next weeks blog.
For a little on self awareness check out this brief video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuf_X2E-Cqw