The inspiration for this blog post came to me after my conversation with my best friend Rita a few days ago, who is a mother to a 4 years old cutie. I asked her what are the positive changes she’s hoping to teach her son and the little one who’s due this August as they get older?
Self-awareness and patience, she said which surprised me since I was expecting the usual answers like being a good person, being kind…etc. I mean nothing is wrong with those answers, I was taken by surprise that was all.
So why those two elements?
Simply because patience gives us the aptitude to prevail over life’s difficulties and self-awareness gives us the strength to control what’s on the inside. Together, they make us calm, but fierce. Instead of fragile incompleteness, they empower us with inner wholeness. Beautifully put don’t you think?Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet. - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Patience is a Virtue Meaning to Let Go and Take Your Time
Famously described as virtue, patience is both an emotion and a skill. It is how we respond to rudeness, provocations, and delays; whatever situation irritates or annoys you is a trial that puts your patience to the test.
Though we mostly associate it with traffic jams and long waiting lines, patience is also a bearing we have when confronted with continual inner turmoil. Patient people are endowed with quiet, steady perseverance that allows them to stay unswerving and surefooted when faced with misfortune.
For some of us, patience is an ability; for others, it is a willingness. However slight, this important distinction teaches us that patience can be developed with time and practiced to perfection. You can do it too, as soon as you learn what pushes your buttons the most, and why.
In Pursuit of Mindfulness
In psychology, these button-pushers are known as “triggers”. Typically, they are the little things: your partner’s dirty socks on the floor, a churlish waitress or a sloppy colleague. Whatever yours might be, they do just what their name suggests – trigger your inner frustration.
Impatience triggers are different in all of us, but they always prolong our frustration into the future or trace it back to the past. Like a nervous child, you’re beginning to ask “how more will I wait until I finally get what I want” (future). In other cases, the unnerving reality repeats and you once again find yourself saying “this always happens to me” (past).
In other cases, the unnerving reality repeats and you once again find yourself saying “this always happens to me” (past).
Here lays the simplest cure for impatience: staying in the present. It’s what we call mindfulness, and define as a “mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations”.
Becoming Aware of the Presence
Mindfulness isn’t about freezing or seizing the moment, though; it’s about disburdening yourself from past resentments and anxious expectations. It means letting go and taking the time to be aware of the less-than-magnificent now.
Being the opposite pole, impatience limits both your emotions and your reactions to what’s already happen or what’s eventually to be. Stuck in between past and future, you’re unable to respond in a productive and proactive way.
But, how do you make positive changes and reach the state in which it is easy to choose mindfulness over irritation and patience over impatience?
Essentially, it is a matter of self-control. And, in order to control what’s on the inside, you need to be aware of it first.
Self-Awareness Is the First Step Towards Self-Improvement
We can hardly discuss self-growth without mentioning the godfather of soul-searching, right? A modern human is lucky to have a Carl Jung quote for just about anything, so let us center our analysis on another one.
The thing you’ve hopefully learned about patience is that circumstantial triggers are not to be confused for deeply rooted frustrations: little things that make you lose your temper are only the gateway to the problem that boils within.
As someone who’s made unmasking a goal in his professional life, Jung insisted that “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”. Your state of inner wholeness depends on both and begins with self-awareness.Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung
Lighting the Darkness
In other words, if you want to improve your patience, you need to identify the root problem that makes you impatient in the first place. To focus your awareness on the present moment, you have to be aware of the personal challenges, past and current alike.
Making the darkness conscious is “disagreeable and therefore not popular”, as Carl Jung noticed. If your internal struggle comes from the closed-off awareness to an unpleasant experience, facing that repressed part of yourself is the only way of solving the problem.
The catch is – that unpleasant experience is what your psyche is defending you against, sensing just how painful or scary it would be to confront it. There’s no easy way around this, really. To grow is to hurt, but what matters is the relief that comes afterward.
Allowing yourself to acknowledge these negative parts of yourself is a step forward. We’re all made of both light and darkness, and the sooner you accept your own yin-yang, the sooner you’ll be whole. Only as such, you can find it in you to be understanding of, kind to, and patient towards others.
Strictly speaking, self-awareness is a prerequisite for personal fulfillment. As you get to know your inner being, you begin to experience yourself and your surroundings in new ways.
What’s on the inside is no longer inaccessible to your introspection – though always an integral part of yourself, it is now something you can control.
Never be afraid of diving deeper! Whatever you may find, making unconscious conscious will free you from the torture of denying what’s always been there. Not only will this therapeutic process give you peace, but it will also make you more involved in your psychical life, and allow you to be more patient with your own imperfections.
How Patience and Self-Awareness Affect Each Other
One last word before you go off familiarizing with your inner depths: patience and self-awareness cannot do without each other. They are both traits of contented, successful people, but they certainly take time, effort and persistence to master.
If your awareness is still closed-off, you’ll hardly get to the bottom of your chronic impatience. The quality of being patient demands mindfulness, self-control, and self-mastery, which is impossible to achieve with all those repressed frustrations and anger standing in the way.
Without patience, conversely, you won’t get far in introspection. In order to make positive changes and reveal the parts of yourself that your psyche is protecting you from, you need to quiet down, pay attention and stay composed once all those demons start breaking out.
Self-Awareness Activities that Spark Success and Motivation
Luckily, there are methods that can help you practice both self-awareness and patience through smaller, simpler steps. They are all a way of letting yourself be mindful of your emotions and reactions while honing your self-image at the same time and on a daily basis.
Take them as little lessons to live by – if it helps, write them down on a piece of paper and read them out loud each morning. They aren’t time-consuming nor energy-draining, but quite the opposite. Day after day, they will remind you to slow down, unwind, and ease your focus into being aware of yourself and life’s unpredictable ways.
1. Practice Meditation
The inner journey begins once you learn to turn off all the noise that your unstoppable outer journey is making. As Ivo Andric has noticed, to be human is not only to exist but to endure one’s thoughts as well. These thoughts raise a hell of clutter, and every now and then, you need to shush them down.
We’re not talking about Nirvana, of course; becoming self-aware doesn’t mean emptying yourself of the inner murmur, but being more selective with emotions and thoughts that affect you. What we’re talking about is a silent, contemplative moment in which the noise quiets down to make room for reflection.
Meditation is the very best way to reconnect with our true selves while quieting the busy mind chatter, claims the EOC Institute. It’s also a well-known fact proven by experience and studies. First, you’ll start appreciating the simplicity of inhaling and exhaling. In time, your mind will be relaxed enough to gain complete clarity.
2. Always Ask “Why?” to Understand Your Motives
Psychotherapy is another way to achieve that, though its approach is certainly more intensive. Instead of serenity that comes with meditation, it offers a reality slap that’s usually less than pleasant. But, while spirituality cures without necessarily identifying the disease, psychotherapy dissects to remove the root problem.
Still, you don’t have to lay on the couch in order to get your soul analyzed; you can simply remember to ask yourself “why”. Everything we do, think or feel comes from the same place, which is why learning to understand our motives is the first step towards self-awareness. The more often you dissect your psyche, the less infected it will be.
Understanding why you choose to do certain things and not the others will give you a sense of purpose and clarity.
3. Be Compassionate Enough to Accept Yourself
Soul-searching may be especially hard for those with a crooked self-image. The lower your self-esteem is, the more frightening this process may seem. At the same time, it is that more important to face your demons and accept them as your own.
In all honesty, self-awareness will at first raise anxiety about all those imperfections that make you insecure and unconfident. It’s because of this that we often refuse positive changes and choose to remain impenetrable to self-examination. But, self-examination and self-criticism are two different things.
In fact, becoming aware of your internal mechanisms should and will cheer up your inner critic. Self-awareness is a form of acceptance in its own right, though you have to be cautious with how you approach it. Remember that nobody’s perfect and that everyone deserves compassion, including you.
The combination of self-awareness and self-compassion, or compassionate self-awareness, is a state that allows you to objectively comprehend your inner self, but be sympathetic to your own struggles. While asking yourself who you are, don’t forget to be patient and kind no matter the answer.
4. Be Aware of Your Self-Talk
Start by paying closer attention to the things you say to yourself. Instead of allowing your internal dialogue to bring you down, try to fill your thoughts with positive self-talk. It’s not the easiest trick in the book, but it’s a very effective life hack that any phycologist would recommend.
However schizophrenic this may sound, practice counteracting all those negative assessments of yourself with positive truths about your life. Whenever you think you can’t do anything right, list a number of things you’ve already accomplished.
Bear in mind that self-talk shouldn’t be deceiving. Never tell yourself things that are untrue, be they positive or negative: rather, be honest and recognize yourself as you really are. You’ve got so many things to be proud of, so stay focused on them.
5. Improve Your Body Language
While positive self-talk makes you stronger on the inside, positive body language works as an extrinsic motivator. Sure, your body mirrors your mind, but it can also trick it into being more confident and aware of its qualities. Straighten up, relax your shoulders and don’t be afraid to take up some space.
All humans are social beings, and so are you. Being a non-verbal sign, body language is a significant factor that people around you consider while judging your character. When it exhumes high self-esteem, your posture elicits respect in others; in return, that respect compels you to appreciate yourself more.
6. Ask for Constructive Feedback
The whole purpose of increasing self-awareness is the eventual ability to objectively perceive yourself. Who you are is somewhere between your self-image and the way people see you, which means that you cannot exclude others from this process.
Just like embarking on the inner journey isn’t always enjoyable, asking for feedback can be downright terrifying. We’re always scared that our self-image might be better than how we look in the eyes of others, but reconciling these two personas is crucial for growth.
Always seek feedback from your family, friends, and colleagues – in the worst case, you’ll learn something about yourself that you didn’t know. It’s only then that you can make positive changes, improve and become a version of yourself that you’ve thought you are and you want to be.
7. Find Out Your Personality Type
In today’s world of digital resources, finding out your personality type is fairly easy. There’s plenty of online tests you can do in less than a couple of minutes or so, and the results might help you gain a deeper understanding of why you are the way you are.
Moreover, you’ll learn that people aren’t wrong; they’re simply different. Whether you’re an idealist, a visionary, or a caregiver, your personality defines your place in the world crowded with all kinds of doers and thinkers.
Once you know where you belong, it will be easier for you to cater to your personality type and build meaningful relationships with those around you. You’ll be able to recognize your patterns, respect your strong traits and acknowledge weak spots, thus moving a step closer to self-awareness.
8. Make Time for Being Alone
Remember the way you wrote those first, beginner’s essays in high school? You’d pen down a paragraph, then go back to read it before proceeding to the next one. Once the entire piece is finished, you’d study it once more, assessing the work you’ve done.
Though it may seem much complicated, the adult life is that much simpler. Take action, then stop to review it. It’s why soul experts insist upon what we call the “me-time”: a quiet moment of solitude that allows you to think and evaluate your emotions, words, and deeds.
Never be afraid of staying alone, and never underestimate the importance of doing so. You can hardly get to know who you are if you don’t spend some quality time with yourself. Make it a part of your schedule, and try to enjoy it while it lasts.
9. Life Is Your Classroom: Always Be a Student
What is our bumpy road to self-awareness if not a self-improvement tactic? This process encourages you to come face to face with your past mistakes so that you can make positive changes and learn not to repeat them in the future. But, however brilliant, it’s certainly not the only way to learn.
In order to take challenges as lessons, you need to stay open-minded. Embrace your insecurities through compassionate self-awareness, try to love other people’s flaws, and look at the hard times as the opportunity to gain experience and practice perseverance.
10. Change Your Perspective
Your ability to achieve mindfulness, self-control, and fulfillment is deeply affected by how you see yourself and the world that surrounds you. Any form of subjectivity – be that a daydreamer’s tireless optimism or a cynic’s existential doubt – is essentially an illusion that prevents us from perceiving things as they truly are.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should take a black or white approach. It rather advises you to cut through your own and illusions of others so that you can see the whole picture. Though complicated, the world is already magnificent enough! You don’t need to embellish or tarnish it, but be aware of it.
11. Keep a Daily Journal of Your Thoughts
Keeping a diary of your thoughts and feelings can help you stay in tune with your inner self and change the perspective for the better. Study after study has shown that “writing about emotions in an abstract sense was more calming than describing them in vivid language”, but not only that.
Journaling is an outlet for processing whatever it is that your psyche might be struggling with, which certainly increases your emotional intelligence. It shifts your focus from roaming about to staying engaged with your thoughts, thus evoking mindfulness too.
And, like literature itself, writing a diary entry is a manner of untangling life’s mysteries. It’s a literal heart-to-heart conversation, a way of explaining complicated notions to yourself as you would to a friend in need. Being a liberating release, journaling is a form of healing.
12. Learn and Teach Others New Things
The main purpose of making positive changes is internal self-growth, but it goes without saying that such excursion into the unknown will make you not only a better person but a better leader too. You’ll get to give away your hard-earned knowledge to others around you, thus raising awareness and inspiring the impatient to turn their lives around.
Practically speaking, both self-awareness and patience will improve your decision-making, problem-solving and creative thinking. Whether you manage a team or are a part of one, this calmer, sure-footed approach to work will yield instant benefits. It goes hand in hand with a positive attitude and flexibility, both of which a successful entrepreneur or you cannot do without in your life.
Let the Sun Shines on Your FaceOnly you can change your life, no one else can do it for you.
So, whichever way the ocean of existence throws your quivering thought, remember to stay mindful. You’ll need control and self-awareness to shut down your worst enemy – who, by the way, is you – and stick to your most loyal friend – again, you. Then, you’ll need patience for reaching the shore.
Only together, self-awareness and patience can help you make positive changes needed for weathering the storm. They are a power couple known only to victorious sailors and don’t think for a second that you don’t have them in you too. Dive deep, emerge with a new kind of knowledge, and the waters will be a bit calmer.