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  • Writer's pictureMatt Schubert

7 Steps to Become a Master at Self-Awareness

This article is written from a cognitive behavioral perspective. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the primary modality I use in my private practice as a counselor in the Boise area


In the realm of mental health, it's important to acknowledge that experiencing a wide range of emotions is a natural and healthy part of being human. From joy and excitement to sadness and frustration, emotions provide us with valuable insights into our inner world. However, it is critical to note that being aware of your emotions is not necessarily self-awareness. The much more important part of awareness is to identify the thoughts that cause these emotions. This is where you can not only become a master at self-awareness but also make life-long changes to how you think



gaining self awareness


What is self-awareness?


Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your own thoughts and how they affect your behaviors. It involves being conscious of your internal experiences and understanding you biases, values, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations


Self-awareness is best cultivated through reflection and introspection of one’s own thoughts. It involves being mindful and present in the moment, actively paying attention to your internal thoughts and external reactions


7 Steps to gain self-awareness


1. Acknowledge and validate thoughts – When a stimulus presents itself into our lives we have “automatic thoughts” that pop into our minds about the stimulus. We often see these thoughts as truth and do not question them. In turn, we have behavioral and emotional reactions to these thoughts. If you take two people and expose them to the same stimulus you will most likely get two different thoughts and in turn two different responses. It is important to learn to identify these automatic thoughts and to start questioning the validity of them


2. Developing emotional awareness - Cultivating emotional awareness allows us to identify and understand our emotions more effectively. Once we understand our emotions we can then go back in time to explore what thought triggered those emotions and how they manifested in your body and mind. By developing this self-awareness, we can respond to our emotions (and thoughts) in healthier and more constructive ways


3. Practicing mindfulness - Mindfulness is a powerful tool for embracing emotions and cultivating resilience. Through mindful practices such as meditation and breathwork, we can create a sense of calm and presence amidst the ebb and flow of emotions. Mindfulness helps us observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment, fostering a more resilient and optimistic mindset. Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean sitting still and doing meditation and breathwork though. Think of an athlete “in the zone” as peak mindfulness. Meditation not working for you? Try to be mindful by going on a run instead. I wrote an article on how to incorporate these mindfulness approaches into parenting


4. Building resilience: Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from adversity. It's not about suppressing or avoiding difficult emotions but rather about developing the capacity to navigate them effectively. Building resilience involves nurturing self-care practices, fostering social connections, setting realistic goals, and embracing a growth mindset. Resilience enables us to face life's challenges with greater optimism and confidence. A great way to build resilience is by advocating for your autonomy and the autonomy of those around you


5. Shifting perspectives: Positive thinking plays a vital role in mental well-being, allowing us to view challenging situations through a more positive lens. By reframing negative thoughts and practicing a more hopeful outlook, we can reduce stress, enhance problem-solving skills, and maintain a sense of agency in our lives. Even is the thought can’t be changed to positive, it can still have positive associations attached to it. Look for those when all else fails


6. Practicing gratitude: Practicing gratitude has been linked to improved mental health and well-being. Regularly expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of our lives shifts our focus from what's lacking to what we appreciate. A great exercise is a daily gratitude journal. In addition, you can visualize taking your internal gratitude and giving it to someone else. This visualization fosters forgiveness, understanding, and selflessness


7. Seeking support: Remember, resilience and optimism do not mean facing challenges alone. Seeking support from trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals is a crucial aspect of maintaining well-being. A counselor trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help teach you the necessary tools to be equipped for anything life will throw at you next


In Conclusion


Understanding our thoughts and embracing the behavioral and emotional reactions that come from them is an empowering journey toward self-awareness. By questioning the validity of our thoughts, practicing mindfulness, and developing emotional awareness, we can navigate life's challenges with greater ease. Remember, it is our thoughts that trigger our emotions, not the other way around. Become a master at identifying your thoughts and you will become a master at self-awareness



increase self awareness

Matthew Schubert is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) who owns and operates Gem State Wellness


Gem State Wellness offers mental health counseling in Boise and throughout Idaho via telehealth

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