As a life coach, one of the things I discuss most often with my clients is how to handle feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety, as they try to “do it all.”
My clients tell me about their crazy schedules. They tell me about juggling their work life, home life, family, friendships, side hustles, and everything else on their long to-do list.
And they tell me they don’t know what to do next because they’re totally swamped.
But when I ask them about why they’re feeling so swamped, they don’t have a clear reason. Sure, they list their busy schedule, but they can’t pinpoint what it is exactly that makes them feel this way.
Instead, they simply experience a general feeling of stress, anxiety, confusion, or overwhelm.
And they want to find out why.
They want to develop a deeper self-awareness that allows them to truly understand what’s going on.
And since I know my clients aren’t the only ones feeling this way, I thought I would share the tools I use with them on this week’s podcast.
So if you’re ready to dig deep and develop that greater sense of self-awareness, then you’re in luck. Because that’s exactly what we’re exploring this week.
Be sure to stream the podcast below or check it out in your favorite podcasting app!
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the full transcript.
Let’s do this!
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…
- Why many of us live on autopilot
- How to tune in and discover what you’re really thinking and feeling
- Strategies to develop a deeper self-awareness
- How to use this knowledge to start moving forward on your goals
LINKS FROM THE PODCAST
- Sign up for a free 1:1 coaching session with me here!
- Grab your free Powerful Questions worksheet here!
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Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed? How do you get clarity? What are your favorite strategies to develop your self-awareness? Let me know below!
Transcript: How to Increase Self-Awareness with This Simple Tool
Hey, everybody! How are you today? Welcome to the podcast.
So today I am excited to talk with you about one of my most favorite tools that anybody can use at any time in their life in order to help find clarity, develop greater self-awareness, and experience understanding and compassion toward both themselves and others. I’m telling you, if you put this tool to regular practice, it is incredibly powerful.
And in fact, as I was drafting the outline for this podcast, I realized that I have a lot to say on the matter. I thought it would be just a quick 20-minute episode, but as I kept writing, I realized there was quite a bit I wanted to explore with you. So we are going to divide this topic into two episodes, this week and next week so that I don’t bombard you with an hour-long episode this week.
Now the reason why I wanted to dive into this topic of self-awareness and focus on how we can create these feelings of clarity and understanding and compassion, is that so many of us feel lost or confused or overwhelmed in our day-to-day lives.
I talk with my clients and I hear from you listeners about all of the different things going on for you each day. You tell me that you’re balancing work life and home life and family and friendships and side hustles and everything else that’s on that to-do list of yours. And when I ask my clients why they’re feeling so swamped, they don’t always have a specific answer.
Instead, it’s just this general feeling of stress, or overwhelm, or confusion, or indecision. And we simply attribute these feelings to our busy schedules or our frustrating coworkers or our children who never seem to stop arguing.
Does this sound familiar? Can you hear yourself here? I thought so. Because these are stories that we tell ourselves all the time. So if you hear yourself in this situation, please know that you’re not alone.
Your Thoughts Create Your Feelings
With that being said, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you know this isn’t actually true even though we believe it is. You know that your circumstances can’t create your feelings. Your schedule or your co-workers or your children can’t create your feelings.
Instead, your thoughts create your feelings. And the reason why we are feeling lost or confused or frustrated about our day is that we’re choosing to think thoughts the create those very feelings.
Now, if you’re new to the podcast or you’re feeling skeptical of this idea right now, that’s totally fine. But stick with me. Hear me out. Because you’ll understand what I mean and how this all works as we continue through this episode and next week’s as well.
Living on Autopilot
Because the truth is, so many of us don’t actually know what we’re thinking about. We are living our lives at high-speed. We’re jumping from one meeting or practice or project to the next. And we don’t take time to tune in and consider what’s going on in our brain.
Instead, we just walk around essentially controlled by our thoughts. And we assume that these thoughts are true because they keep repeating over and over in our minds. But they’re not! Our thoughts are just sentences in our brains.
And here’s the most important part of that: you get to choose what you think.
And when you get clear on your thoughts – when you start paying attention to the stories that you’re telling yourself each day – you start living a more deliberate life. When you start deciding what you want to think on purpose, you start creating those results that you want in your life so much faster.
Because as a quick reminder, the thoughts we think create the way we feel. And the way we feel inspires our actions. And the way we act creates the results in our lives. So we need to get clear on our thoughts.
Ask Yourself Questions for Clarity
And one of the most powerful ways to do this — one of the most effective ways to uncover what you’re thinking and start choosing your thoughts deliberately — is by asking yourself questions. And not just any questions. I am talking about asking yourself good questions that serve you.
Because the reality is that we ask ourselves unuseful questions all day long. We ask ourselves things like, “Why does this have to take so long?” ” Why does this always happen to me?” “Why does she always act like this?”
But these questions aren’t helpful. Instead, these questions make you the victim. They remove all of your control. They leave you feeling powerless.
Just think about it. How do you feel when you ask: “Why does this always happen to me?” It feels terrible, right? It certainly doesn’t feel empowering.
So if you want to find that sense of direction. If you want to gain that clarity. If you want to regain that power, then you need to start asking better questions. Period.
And for the next two episodes, we’re going to explore a whole bunch of good questions you can start asking yourself to gain this clarity and purpose.
My Bad Question Loop
But before we really dive into it, let me give you an example of my own experience with asking better questions. So this was one of the first big shifts that I experienced as I started practicing better questions and it had a big impact on me in several different ways.
So I had this unhelpful question that I constantly asked myself for years. It was on repeat in my mind day in and day out. And that question was: “why does everything always take longer than I think it should?” I’m telling you, I asked myself this question daily – often multiple times a day.
And on the surface, it just sounds like I turned an observation about my life and productivity into a question. But it was so much more than that.
Because when I asked myself that question, I felt like I had no control. I felt like had no control over my time. I never knew when I would get things done. And surprise surprise, that left me feeling completely helpless.
So I started asking myself a different question. Instead, of asking, “why does everything take longer than I think it should?” I started asking myself things like: “where could I be more efficient with my time? How can I plan my schedule better? What do I need to do to ensure that I have enough time to complete what’s on my calendar for the day?”
And this simple shift in the way that I asked myself questions about my schedule and time management changed everything. Because my original approach — why does everything take longer than I think it should? Closed me down. It left me feeling helpless.
But when I ask how can I better plan my schedule, or where can I be more efficient with my time, that opens my mind up to new options. It opens my mind up to other possibilities. And it lets me start exploring new thoughts a new ideas to get me moving forward.
Answer Your Questions
And with that, I should also note that once you start asking yourself these powerful questions, you need to be willing to dive in and answer them honestly. Don’t deflect with “I don’t know.” or “I’m confused.” Because the truth is that those answers are 100% not useful. Instead, challenge yourself to dig deep, explore what’s going on in your brain, and answer these questions with honesty.
Four Question Groups
So in today’s episode and next week’s episode, I want to share with you some of my favorite questions that you can start asking yourself immediately to help you better understand your thoughts and how to move forward.
I have grouped the questions into four different areas based on where many of my clients seem to feel stuck. That being said, you can really use these questions anywhere at any time. So if you hear a question that speaks to you, but I’m using it in a different situation. Don’t let that stop you. Use these questions anywhere that they will help you uncover more about what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, and how you are showing up in your life.
And the four categories that we are going to explore are questions to help you gain deeper self-awareness, questions to help you find clarity in your decision-making, questions to bring you understanding and compassion for both yourself and others, and finally, questions to help you move forward and start taking action if you are feeling stuck.
Today we are going to dive into the first overarching category of deeper self-awareness. You can practice these new questions this week and find what’s going on for you. And then next week we will get more specific about clarity around decision making, understanding, and taking action.
Grab Your Free Workbook!
I also want to note that I created a workbook download all these different questions as well. And I’m telling you, this is a really powerful PDF to help you shake things up and get you thinking outside of your normal thought patterns. So make sure you head to today’s show notes at imbusybeingawesome.com/episode32 and snag your free workbook, which is filled with all of these different questions to get you moving in the right direction.
Questions to Ask Yourself For Deeper Self-Awareness
So let’s start talking about better questions that we can ask ourselves to raise our self-awareness.
You see, as I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, we tend to walk around living our lives on autopilot. It’s almost like we’re living on default. And we let life happen to us.
We live our lives at the effect of all of the different circumstances that happened in the world. And while this isn’t wrong – in fact, most of the world lives this way – it is not the most effective way to live your ideal life. It’s not the best way to stretch and grow and learn and become that next version of yourself.
Because if you want to step into that next version of yourself and make progress on your goals quickly, then you want to live deliberately. You want to make decisions on purpose. You want to think on purpose. And you want to increase your awareness of all of these different thoughts – all of these sentences – running around your mind each day.
There’s something like 60,000 thoughts going through your head each day; when we can increase our awareness just a bit, it makes such a huge difference as you work toward your big goals.
How to Increase Your Awareness
So how do we do this? Well, the first question I encourage you to ask yourself is going to sound very simple. But it’s also incredibly powerful. And that question is: “what am I thinking about?”
Honestly, when is the last time you really sat down and thought about what you’re thinking? Again, so many of us have no idea what we’re thinking. We have all of these thoughts running through our head on autopilot, and we don’t take time to tune in and pay attention to them.
So the first step in raising your self-awareness through questions is to simply ask yourself, “what am I thinking about?” And I encourage you to write that question at the top of a piece of paper and then do a giant thought download of all of the things in your head. Empty all of those thoughts out onto paper.
Now, if you haven’t done this before — or if you haven’t done it in a while — you might be writing for quite some time. And these thoughts might not have any rhyme or reason to them. You’ll go off on tangents. You will have thoughts about the short-term like what you’re making for dinner tonight, and you’ll have thoughts about the long-term, like whether or not you are going to make that career move. All of it is great. Just write down all of those thoughts.
And the moment you think you have everything down, ask yourself, “what else am I thinking?” And write for a bit longer. Get it all out.
What Am I Thinking About?
Even if you just adopt this one strategy, and you make it a regular practice, you will start noticing an increase in your awareness. I promise you; by simply taking all of those thoughts out of your brain and putting them on paper and actually looking at them, you learn so much about what is cycling through your mind every day.
Some of those thoughts might be super positive. Some of them might be super negative. And some might be filled with doubt or worry. That’s fine. Hold the space for yourself. Don’t judge anything. This is simply the first step in developing self-awareness of what is going through your mind each day.
And as I mentioned, if you do this regularly, you are going to start having some powerful realizations. You’ll start identifying repeated thoughts that you practice on a daily basis. You’ll notice the repeated negative thoughts, which you can question and consider why you keep thinking them. You will notice some positive thoughts that feel really good and serve you.
As I mentioned, one of the thoughts that I realized I kept thinking was “everything takes longer than I think it should.” This was not a helpful thought. And it was because of my thought downloads each morning that I realized this recurring pattern. And once I realized it, I was able to question it and change it.
So do yourself a favor and ask yourself, “what am thinking about?”
Why Am I Choosing to Think This?
Once you answer that question, then the next powerful question to ask yourself as you work toward raising your self-awareness is “why am I choosing to think this thought?” Again, these thoughts are usually running on autopilot. We think they’re just true as a run through our brains every day.
But remember, thoughts are completely optional. They’re not facts. They’re just sentences that run through our brain — some more often than others. And some of them are super useful and some of them are not. And by identifying potentially unhelpful thoughts and asking yourself, “why am I choosing to think this thought?” you’re adding another level of awareness.
So if we go back to my thought that things always take longer than I think they should, here’s how that played out.
I asked myself: why am I choosing to think this thought? And my immediate answer was, “because it’s true! Everything does take longer.” But again, this is not helpful. This is not getting me into action. This is not helping me find solutions.
Your Thought is Optional
And when I reminded myself of the fact that I was choosing to think this thought, it helped me realize that this thought is optional. I don’t have to be thinking this thought. And frankly, I don’t want to be thinking this thought. It’s not serving me.
And once I realized that by asking myself this question, I decided to think something different. Instead, I started thinking things like “I always get things done on time.” and “There’s always enough time.” and “I’m getting things done exactly as I want.”
Now, it definitely took some practice for me to shift my thoughts, because I practiced that old thought so often. However, as soon as I started internalizing these new beliefs, it made a night and day difference. I started making these new thoughts my reality. And all of this came from me simply asking: what am I thinking about? And why am I choosing to think this?
How do I Want to Feel?
Another really powerful question for you to consider to raise your self-awareness is to ask yourself: how do I want to feel? In fact, this is one of my favorite questions all around. Because it gets to the heart of the matter. And it’s a question you can ask yourself in any situation.
How do you want to feel right now? How do you want to feel about what’s on your calendar? Or how do you want to feel about your upcoming launch? How do you want to feel about your coworker or your boss?
Remember, you get to decide how you want to feel. Because your feelings come from your thoughts. And as we’ve been talking about all episode, you get to decide how you think.
You Get to Decide How You Want to Feel
So let’s say you are looking at your to-do list for the week, and you’re currently feeling overwhelmed. And you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re thinking to yourself, “I have no idea how I’m going to get all of this done.”
Now, yes, you could continue thinking this. And you could continue reinforcing that feeling of overwhelm. But why? Why would you choose to think that? Why would you choose to feel that way? And how do you want to feel instead? How do you want to feel about your to-do list for the week?
Do you want to feel capable? Do you want to feel committed? Motivated? Driven? How do you want to feel as you look at that to-do list and you schedule out your week?
Then once you decide on that feeling, you can ask yourself, what can I think to create this feeling? What can I think to myself to feel committed to this project? What can I think to feel motivated about this week ahead? And again, don’t allow your brain to tell you, “I don’t know,” okay? I don’t know is not allowed. Instead, tune in and answer this question.
It Takes Practice
And I also want to note that this process takes practice. It doesn’t come naturally – at least it certainly didn’t for me. We’ve been trained our entire lives that our circumstances control our thoughts and our feelings. We’re taught to believe that when something happens, that event makes us feel a certain way. But this isn’t true.
Your thoughts about that event make you feel that way, and you have a choice in what you think. So why not choose thoughts and feelings that serve you? Why not choose thoughts and feelings that get you moving in the right direction?
And if you find that you’re struggling with this, or if these ideas aren’t making sense, make sure that you head to imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession and sign up for a call with me. I’ll help you identify the thoughts that are circling around in your brain. We will find the ones that are serving you and work through the ones that are not. And we will identify how you might choose to think differently so that you’re feeling better and taking action from a more confident, positive space.
Recap Self-Awareness Questions
So again, these questions are incredibly powerful to help you increase your self-awareness in any area of your life.
Simply start by asking yourself: what am I thinking? What’s going on in my brain right now? Write down that question – what am I thinking – at the top of your page. Then answer the question. Write it all down. Empty your brain.
Once you do that, have a look at all of those thoughts. Identify a few of them that stand out to you as potentially unhelpful. Which ones surprised you? Which ones might be holding you back?
Once you find those negative ones that stand out – and there may be quite a few – ask yourself, why am I choosing to think this? Why do I keep repeating this thought to myself? Do I want to keep thinking this way? Is it serving me? If not, what would I want to think instead?
And then finally, how do I want to feel about this situation? What do I want to feel when I think about my job or that upcoming project, or the interview, or my children, or that business decision? Because I get to choose. So how do I want to feel? And what can I think to generate that feeling?
I’m telling you, this may seem silly or not worth your time. Maybe you think you’re too busy to slow down and ask yourself these questions, but I’m telling you – they are SO powerful. If you actually took 10-15 minutes each day and asked yourself these three questions for the next week, I promise you would gain an incredible amount of awareness. You’d experience so much more clarity around what’s going on in your life, what’s helping you move forward, and what’s potentially holding you back.
So make sure that you head to imbusybeingawesome.com/episode32 and grab your free PDF with all of these questions as well as several others to get yourself diving deep and moving forward.
And in fact, I would love to know if you find a thought that surprises you when doing these exercises. It would be fascinating to hear about what you find, why you’re choosing these thoughts, or how you want to feel. So after you do the work, be sure to head over to Instagram and send me a message @imbusybeingawesome.
And next week, we are going to do an even deeper dive into these powerful questions that can help you shift your perspective and up your game. We are going to explore topics of understanding and compassion for both yourself and others. We’re going to consider questions you can ask to help you gain clarity around decision making. And we’ll talk about powerful questions you can ask to help you start taking action any time you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated.
It’s going to be good.