What does conscious living mean? I like to think of it as a recipe made up of many things, with three core ingredients: self-awareness, self-management, and self-control. These three important elements can help you live a more conscious life. Let’s break them down.
Self-awareness is an essential ingredient. Self-awareness means that you are aware of your thoughts, desires, and feelings. When we are aware of these things that happen within us, we can control how we express and react in situations. When we look at self-awareness, it is simply just being in tune and sensitive to what is happening within you. As we become more confident with what is going on within us, our ability to sense it becomes heightened. The blinders come off and we become aware of what is transpiring within.
One very simple example is tuning into your hunger signals. Becoming more aware of when you are hungry and serving that desire will allow you to nourish your body when it needs it. Many people call this “intuitive eating,” which is truly about self-awareness as to what your body needs at that moment in time.
What does self-management look like? Self-management is simply about our ability to manage our own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a conscious and thoughtful way. We cannot manage our interoceptive experiences without first being aware of them. As such, self-awareness is an important first step. Self-management involves taking personal responsibility for yourself. When you are focused and tuned into self-management, you tend to avoid losing it in tough situations.
For example, a situation at work might anger you but you are able to manage it and remain productive. You take the time to take responsibility for your feelings—whatever they may be— without allowing them to spill out all over the place. In other words, you don’t morph into an erupting volcano. You remain calm and neutral, managing the flow of what you are feeling internally in a productive way. You do what needs to be done, managing your emotions in the process. This is a key element in self-management.
Self-control, the third key ingredient, is about regulating your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors even when the temptation is present to do otherwise. It is about regulating our responses to avoid undesirable behavior or impulsive reactions. This serves as an important role in our interpersonal relationships. Self-control helps us regulate when and how we express ourselves to others.
To practice these three powerful processes, we first need to learn to take a pause before we react or respond. Pausing allows you to tap into your current feelings and bring more awareness to what is happening within you. We can then bring stress-relieving practices and self-care to our experience. Creating a practice that helps you reduce your stress and re-energize you is important. What speaks to you? Once you develop a practice that serves you daily, you will feel more in touch with your stress and reactivity levels. This allows us to be less impulsive and more thoughtful during difficult moments.
Monitor your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to see how you can bring more self-control to your day-to-day interactions. When are you able to bring more awareness? Try to understand why you feel distinct feelings and have certain thoughts. What is at the core? Celebrate the times when you reflect and are pleased with your ability to manage your emotions and reactions with awareness and self-control. We need to bring attention to the work that we do to improve ourselves and our lives. We can and should celebrate the triumphs, no matter how big or small.
Be gentle and kind to yourself as you practice these three ingredients for living a healthier, more conscious life.
Check out this episode of Conscious Parents, Thriving Kids Podcast: