By Matt Hearnden
1. I live in reality. Sometimes I feel a nudge of jealousy when I’m reading about successful people. But that’s arrogance. They’re where they are because they’ve earned it. I haven’t. Not yet. And it’s not like they’ve even earned the right to be where they are. They’ve earned the privilege of being where they are. Living in reality is remembering that doing what I love and doing it with success is not my right. It is my privilege.
2. I remain calm. Last week I was writing in the kitchen and water started leaking from the ceiling. “Hmm,” I thought. “That’s not good.” If I’d panicked then I would’ve turned one problem into two problems. I would’ve had the water problem and I then I would’ve had a feelings problem. I’d rather just have the one problem and solve that as quickly as possible. Self-awareness is when you don’t turn one problem into two.
3. I’m more persistent. I’ve been emailing a guy for weeks now because I want to write for his Medium publication. It would’ve been easy to stop. It would’ve been easy to think “ah, he obviously doesn’t want me to write for his publication.” But neither of those things will help me write for his publication. I’m persistent because, and I know this is going to be almost impossible to believe, I’m not the most important person in his life. He might’ve totally forgotten about me. He might be getting 100 emails a day. And, yes, of course he might just think I’m not good enough to write for his publication. But, if so, what a valid excuse to persist.
4. I remember that other people want to feel important as much as I want to feel important. I’ve made more of an effort over the past few weeks to talk to my parents. To ask about their day, to open up when they ask me about mine, to listen when they want to vent. We all want to feel important. Of course we do. Who wouldn’t? But I think it’s easy to be invested in our own feelings of importance at the detriment of helping other people feel important. As much as we want to be listened to, and accepted, and loved, that’s how much other people want to be listened to and accepted and loved.
5. I stop participating in my thoughts and feelings. I stop participating and start noticing. That’s the only way to not be a slave to our thoughts and our feelings. That’s the only way to take control. That’s the only way to understand that, despite our thoughts and feelings, we always have a choice.
6. I move. It’s true self-awareness if we’re not taking action. It’s easy to say “I’m self-aware,” and know what makes you happy, know what pisses you off, know what you want. But actually taking action on what we know? That’s another level of self-awareness. That’s being self-aware enough to know that things only change when you change things.
7. I know I’m more than my fear. Think about the last time you didn’t do something because you were afraid or scared or worried about it. Ok. Now think about the last time you did do something even though you were afraid or scared or worried. Ok. You had fear both times. So what was the difference? You realised you were more than your fear.
8. I make myself a priority. I make myself a priority because it’s ok to make myself a priority. Because it’s ok to make myself the most important person in my life. When I’m kind to myself, it’s more fulfilling to be kind to others. If I’m not kind to myself, but I’m kind to others, then eventually I’ll start to resent it. What would happen if you made yourself a priority?
9. I laugh. Yesterday I was watching stand up comedy videos on YouTube and I laughed until I cried. Is it ever a bad day when you laugh until you cry?
10. I remember that there’s something between stimulus and response. And that something is choice. Just thinking about something doesn’t mean I have to do anything. Just feeling something doesn’t mean I have to do anything. Self-awareness is when you accept your thoughts and your feelings, and if you do what they’re telling you to do, it’s because you’ve made a choice to do so. Neither your thoughts nor your feelings have made the choice. You’ve made the choice.