My Self-Awareness Journey
A higher-up at one of my jobs asked me if I'd be interested in taking on a bigger role within the organization. My initial feeling was a big fat yes! But a second after that feeling, something else happened. It was almost as if my spirit jumped to attention and stopped me before I agreed to the offer. In a calm voice, I conjured up a quick response, "Let me think about it." After I said those five words, my spirit felt relieved, and I felt at ease knowing that I would have more time to figure out what was going on, regarding my hesitation to accept immediately.
One of my goals is to be more mindful/self-aware, and it was happening for me, but I wasn't fully aware of it at that moment. I am proud of myself for pressing pause and not giving an answer just yet. It took me a few days to figure out the feeling behind the pause. I finally arrived at the conclusion that it was fear. But what kind of fear was it? I always felt that the fear of success was such a crazy notion. But was that it? I ran to Google and began my investigation. After some research, I didn't feel like the fear of success fully encompassed how I felt. It seemed that it was close, but it didn't quite hit the mark. I continued to look deeper and dissected the feeling. It didn't take long until I understood that it was fear of disappointment.
I am truly fortunate to work with people with whom I hold in very high regard. They are my teachers, friends, and advisors, and I am so honored to be surrounded by them. They have achieved such great success, and they make me feel like my gargantuan goals are achievable. Not only are they at the top of their games, but they are also humble, strong, and they appear to be making all the right choices in their lives. And now one of them wants to promote me to a higher position, which means that, in my mind, I have to be perfect, like I perceive them to be. OH. MY. GAWWWD! How can I do this? What if I fail and they see what a loser I am? What if I can't handle it, and I make them feel like they made the wrong choice? What if they see that I don't have it all together, like I've been attempting to portray this whole time? What if, what if, what if? Ahhh!
Now that I have written this out and I'm reading it out loud, I see the fear. I am looking at it head-on! I see the "fear talk" and the "defeatist" attitude that was going on behind the scenes, deep in my subconscious. Now, if someone were to ask if this describes who I am at my core, I would immediately say no, and I would wholeheartedly believe it. I am, for the most part, a positive thinker, but the fact of the matter is, after close introspection, that secret fear was in me. This is why it is so important for me to be self-aware in my journey, because although some might argue that those thoughts are normal, they aren't the kind of thoughts that I want to be normal within me. I can't imagine Serena Williams walking onto the tennis court thinking, “What if I don't win?” or LeBron James thinking “Geez, what if they find out I'm a loser?”. I don't actively think these things about myself, so where did these feelings come from, and how do I reach into my subconscious and plant new seeds? I ask these questions, because walking around with that gunk in my head leads me to believe that self-sabotage is right around the corner.
Now that I have identified the culprit, how do I fix it? Let me do a quick review before answering this question.
(1) I am striving to be self-aware/mindful.
(2) I gave myself time to figure it out, instead of rushing and giving an answer, like I used to. We don't rush children to walk; we just love them, nurture them, and keep sharp objects off the floor so they can safely find their way around the area.
(3) Once I understood what was going on inside me and determined that it's not something I want, I had to begin removing the gunk and start replacing it with the kind of mental conversation that actually benefits me.
So, now, when a negative thought occurs, I immediately replace it with a positive one. I learned this from watching a TED Talk with a psychologist named Guy Winch (TED Talk available on website). He said that focusing on a positive thought for two minutes will change your entire outlook. I listen to positive affirmations on my phone throughout the day, to plant good thoughts in my mind, and I breathe deeply. Taking deep breaths throughout the day really takes me out of my mind and into the present moment. I have incorporated all of these steps into my day-to-day, and I can feel that my outlook and inner talk are a lot more positive.
After I was able to clear my mind a bit, it turned out that my initial “big fat yes” still remained. I advised my boss that I would love to take on a bigger role within the organization. I am so grateful that I was able to analyze what I was feeling. I am still new to being more mindful, and although it has been a journey to reprogram my brain and my way of thinking, it has been a journey worth traveling.
If anyone has more suggestions or further actions that I can take in my daily, positive self-talk/self-awareness routine, I would greatly appreciate your input. I would also love to hear how you've improved your self-talk and become more self-aware.
Thank you, in advance, for sharing a bit of your journey with me, and helping me move through mine in the healthiest way possible.
Jonaral Martin is a creative who has experience both in front of, and behind the camera. He lends his voice to a number of civic causes, and he enjoys reading when he’s not fighting the good fight. Connect with him at JonaralMartin.com.