Self-awareness can mean all the difference between effectively managing your mental illness and being consumed by it.
Developing self-awareness can help you understand what causes anxiety, sadness, and even the craving to drink or use drugs. Once you identify what causes you to sink deeper into your mental illness, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or substance abuse, you can approach your problem with an informed mindset and position yourself above it when you feel yourself slipping.
So how do you develop self-awareness?
Develop Self-Awareness Through Meditation
It takes time and energy to develop self-awareness.
And it often comes with a healing practice. For instance, mindfulness is a great way to become more aware. When you are mindful, you are intentionally present of your inner and outer experience. When you are present (versus thinking about something that happened in the past or worrying about something that is going to happen in the future) you have the ability to greater manage the feelings and thoughts that are arising. When you are present you are in touch with what’s going on within and around you.
When you are present, you can pick up on connections. For instance, let’s say you’re intentionally staying present. You know it’s good for your healing process and so you’re working on trying to be more mindful. You’re getting into your car one morning and you have the thought, “You’re never going to amount to anything.” Normally, you would believe that thought because it’s so familiar to you. It’s a phrase that your mother used to say to you over and over. And now as an adult it shows up in your head all the time.
But this time, you realize, “Hey, this is just a thought I keep having because I heard it so often as a kid.” With mindfulness and awareness, you were able to gain a bit of distance from the thought. In other words, you didn’t believe it this time. You recognized the thought as a mere appearance in your mind, a mere reflection of what you used to hear as a child. Now, in your healing process, you can work on continuing to avoid believing in those negative thoughts. And you can also work on changing those negative thoughts to positive ones.
Becoming more aware is a pivotal skill in recovery from addiction or another psychological illness. If you want to develop more self-awareness to have the sort of insights described above, then one step to take is to slow down. By slowing the pace of your life, you have more time to be reflective. You have more time to think about your healing process.
5 Ways to Develop Self-Awareness
Here are suggestions for slowing down the pace of your life:
- Take time in the morning or end of day to meditate.
- Practice yoga in the evening or mid-day.
- Journal about your healing experiences.
- Leave time in your day to eat slowly, walk slowly, and tend to your responsibilities in a non-hurried way.
- See a therapist or drug counselor on a regular basis.
These are suggestions for slowing down so that you can continue to gain awareness on your healing path.
Over to You
We’d love to hear how you’re working on developing self-awareness in the comments section below. Let us know what’s working for you and what’s not.