By Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service.
Knowing who you are is key to overcoming life's difficulties. Self-awareness is an awesome force when it comes to dealing with the world and its inhabitants.
When you know what works for you and what doesn't, and you understand how to make your life count for something, then you have the power to never be a victim again, ever.
Are you a person who can overcome your problems, or do your problems take over your life most of the time? Having that awareness gives you a starting point from which you can make the strides necessary to better deal with the issues of everyday life. You can begin by looking at your current ability to cope and then set a goal for how you would like to be.
Most of the time when we feel insecure, it's because we don't know how we will react in an upcoming situation that is causing us some anxiety. One of the tricks here is to have a list of responses to common triggers for your insecurity. For example, if you have a pattern of talking yourself out of going on dates, then you could train yourself to say yes, instead of saying you'll think about it, when someone asks you out.
Knowing how you will respond is a big part of self-awareness, which leads to self-assuredness. Knowing who you are by knowing your responses (not reactions) to life's obstacle course simply helps you get through difficult things more gracefully. And you will feel better for it.
If you don't know what you want to do with your life at the moment, begin by looking at what you've done before that's made you feel good about yourself, and start creating a list of things that might make you feel that way again.
Self-awareness is also about knowing other people's boundaries and limitations. This is important because you may judge yourself by the behavior of others, especially if they can do something you can't and vice versa.
Being aware of when you are at your best can be helpful. Some people are night owls, and others are morning larks. I know that I write best early in the day and spend most mornings in front of the computer doing just that. If I am on a tight deadline because of appointments with clients, and I know that I may need to write again in the evening, I may feel some anxiety all day long, which also keeps me from being as present as I should be for those people who need me. To combat this, I get up a little earlier and make sure that I'm done writing before I have to leave for the office. Sometimes tweaking your day to make it work a little better for you can be that simple. Try looking at your own schedule to see how you can make it work better for you.
Self-awareness is a process that can take many years to acquire, so don't think it's something you can attain by reading one column. There are many fine resources out there that can teach you much more, but the real knowledge lies within you. ___ (Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.")