How well do you really know yourself? I don't mean surface learnings, like what color hair suits you best or what kind of person you're attracted to, but rather the intricacies and intimacies that only one person can discover: you.
"You can really only gain deeper self-awareness about your life, your thoughts, feelings, and needs when you lessen the external distractions, pause, and allow yourself to turn inward for those insights," says Lisa Ferentz, psychotherapist and author of Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons From a Therapist's Couch. She says that too often, we allow the frantic pace of life to cloud our thoughts. "As long as you are in perpetual motion, you can never gain access to those insights, and as a result, you will tend to stay stuck, putting a glass ceiling on the extent to which you can grow both personally and professionally."
To delve a little deeper, Ferentz recommends "taking your emotional temperature" by asking yourself five important questions. "It's about practicing the skill of checking in with yourself and asking, Right now, what am I feeling? or What do I need that I'm not getting?”
Pause and ask yourself these five crucial questions to live a happier, healthier, more self-aware life.
Do you talk to yourself with kindness and compassion, or in ways that are critical, blaming, and shaming?
Ask yourself this question to reflect on how you treat yourself in private. "Your inner monolog impacts all of your thoughts, feelings, and behavioral choices," Ferentz says, so negative self-talk could manifest later in conversations or actions. "Shaming and blaming can be debilitating and even incapacitating. It holds you back, lets you settle for less, attacks your self-esteem, and doesn't let you embrace the opportunities that come your way."
Do you feel safe, respected, listened to, and loved in your relationships?
"This is so important because it's a fundamental right and need you have as a human being," Ferentz says. "When you don't feel those things, it profoundly impacts your mood, your sense of self, your ability to take safe risks, and the extent to which you feel connected and validated in the world."
If your body sensations could talk what would they say?
Self-awareness doesn't only involve the mind. Ferentz says those with a greater sense of awareness are also in tune with their body. "Your body constantly gives you information about how you're feeling and whether or not you're adequately attending to your physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs," she says. "Taking the time to notice and then respond to your body in healthy ways is the ultimate act of self-care."
Do you feel supported, validated, and fulfilled in the workplace?
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, so it's important to constantly reassess whether your job brings you satisfaction. "When the workplace is toxic, you bring the impact of that toxicity home with you," she says. "Give yourself permission to re-evaluate whether or not you're happy at work, and in your career, and know that you have the right leave a workplace that is dysfunctional or abusive."
Are you living in the present moment or are you stuck in the past or waiting for the future?
Your attitude and mind-set are powerful predictors of the future. Ferentz recommends checking in with yourself each day to question whether you're staying in the present. "When you stay mindful of the present moment, you create an opening for gratitude, and can better assess what you need," she says. Focusing on the past can make you "deny the painful reality that needs to be attended to," while being too future-minded prevents you from taking action to achieve your goals. "In both cases, you're not engaging in self-care, and not recognizing all that there is to embrace and celebrate now."
Continue your path of self-reflection with this seven-day challenge.