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Attuned Self-Awareness: Integrating your inner and outer worlds.

5 months ago · · 3 comments

Attuned Self-Awareness: Integrating your inner and outer worlds.

Imagine if you could be truly free and awake in today’s complex, pressured and evolving world?

What if you could flexibly manage yourself and your environment with a well-developed capacity for self-awareness? What if you could process your emotions, so that you consciously choose your response in any given situation and experience real self-mastery? Even (and especially) when you are stressed, triggered and fatigued?

This may sound too good to be true, but with focused and consistent work, it is possible to live this way and doing so will significantly enrich your life.

When you become attuned to the unconscious internal forces driving your behaviour, you break free from the shackles of your automatic and repetitive response patterns. Such habitual pathways of reacting are like deeply ingrained ‘software-programs’ creating frustration in your life without you noticing them.

The great psychologist Carl Jung called these blind spots the ‘shadow’ realm, because we can’t see them. They hide stubbornly in the background and trip up our decisions and relationships.

As human beings, our limitations are mostly self-imposed and self-perpetuated. So how then can we change ourselves?

Ironically, people often misunderstand EQ (Emotional Intelligence) as the ‘fluffy’ stuff. But the truth is that EQ – which has self-awareness lying at its core – is central to getting results.

In fact, EQ is directly linked to ‘response-ability’: flexibly increasing your repertoire of behavioural choices so you can respond in the most appropriate way and create your desired outcome.

The truth is that when you are triggered or in a reactive mode, you only need to build in a tiny window of time and reflection to create some space that will open up a lot more possibility in your responses. As David Rock (author of ‘Your Brain at Work’) wisely said: “Subtle, internal changes, which happen within a fraction of a second and may not be noticeable to the outside world, can sometimes change everything.”

But this is no easy task at all. It will be unnatural and very challenging to break your deeply embedded response patterns. Ultimately, however, response-able and adaptable choices are far more likely to achieve your intended goal in a way that best serves you and others.

And this is vital for leaders who need to make critical decisions with high impact and leverage relationships.

To live as an excellent leader, a conscious leader, the most vital relationship is really with yourself…

Think about it: all leadership is essentially self-leadership. If you can’t manage yourself, how can you ever expect to manage others? And expect them to respect you as a leader?

True self-leadership will require sustained effort, courage and commitment. Self-awareness is one of the most difficult things to develop, and yet it is also one of the most enriching and rewarding pathways in the journey of becoming more fully human.

There is a general principle at play here: what we struggle with most is usually our greatest teacher and source of growth, balance and integration.

To illustrate this principle, consider the following: The word ‘Psyche’ is Greek for ‘Soul’. Now think how often the Psyche unconsciously seeks a ‘soul partner’ with very different or even opposite personality qualities (as the saying goes ‘opposites attract…’). Why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to choose someone similar to us for a partner, resulting in much less struggle and tension?

To answer this, we need to appreciate that we can only really understand who we are (and what we need to work on) when we discover ourselves through the mirror of relationship. Only then are we challenged to confront and own our unconscious patterns that distort our capacity to engage effectively with others.

But the problem is that we usually don’t make self-reflection and working on ourselves a priority. In addition to the challenge of slowing down, it requires being vulnerable and open to feedback –and acknowledging that we aren’t ‘perfect’. For a leader, this can be immensely hard. And the research around the ‘imposter syndrome’ prevalent in many leaders attests to this. Yet, the most effective leaders always make sure to ask the right questions and then listen very carefully to the responses to maximise their learning and adaptability.

Whether you’re a leader or not, when you start to develop Attuned Mindfulness, you anchor and embed a mode of being where listening, openness and growing are valued, practiced and lived to the degree that they eventually become fully embodied and integrated.

And this is what true mindfulness is. It’s an overarching attitude to life, not just a tool or a discipline.

So in summary: If you want to be more fully connected with the world around you, then you first need to become attuned and connected to the world within you!

Categories: Life tips

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3 Comments

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