Last time we really harped on awareness, defining it as being intentionally conscious of yourself. Awareness allows you to make changes, but before those changes are implemented there is value in reflecting on the new information. This information, in the most basic form, is the acknowledgement that something has or hasn’t occurred. Or simply, it is awareness.
Reflection lets us spend time actively considering new information, whether it be feelings, thoughts, or actions. These intentionally thoughtful moments are where growth occurs. Reflecting on the past, present, and future with balance is necessary. Often, it is easier to give in to negative emotions and thoughts that come about (e.g. anxiety about the future, or regretting the past). Taking a more positive approach can alter our understanding, motivation, and process.
Lastly, adjustments are the actionable changes, what will be different next time. They are what we choose to do in effort to enhance our experiences. By making adjustments we show ourselves we have learned from the last time and intend for a better outcome. Changes we make hold us accountable for what we plan to accomplish. That could be happiness, success, progress, better grades etc.
ARA. Awareness, reflection, adjustment. Then repeat, it’s cyclic.
Going a little deeper, reflecting is digging. Why did a particular thought, feeling, or action occur? What about myself triggered that? Did the thought trigger the feeling? Or did the feeling trigger the action? What about the things that surround me or that are within my environment contributed to that? Are those tied together and how? Why did I choose to act a way? How did my thoughts guide me to this action? What did I feel? And why did I feel that way? Is it different from what I feel now and why? Beginning to probe yourself for these answers makes you start to question all aspects of this process and begin to recognize that your habits and behaviors can be conscious. Becoming conscious, or being aware, you realize your control and you can change the things you have control over.
To me, reflection is somehow, both, the most stressful and rewarding step throughout this cycle. There are so many different variables to this digging, as I like to call it. It is easy to become overwhelmed discovering yourself. The truth is though, once you start it is nearly impossible to stop or finish. You create and design improvements within yourself and it’s not likely that you’ll say, “nope, I don’t want to be better any more”. As you reflect and dig, becoming more powerful, it is a place like no other. So we reflect on everything, every action, every encounter. Some are quick check ins and others are taking a walk, writing in a journal, or a voice note. Reflecting with people is a great thing too. Having someone to vent to, or a sound board, is invaluable, but we will get to welcoming others later on. For now, we want to continue to delve inward until we tap into our core. From then, we can accurately and fully express ourselves. This readies us to more effectively share ourselves with others when the time comes.
Reflections can occur moment to moment, daily, monthly and really at any other incremental time point. Whether examining just the past 30 seconds or life over a year. The more you have thought through on a smaller scale the more effective grouping can occur to realize patterns. This allows you to see the bigger picture of how far you have come.
Through reflecting we better understand ourselves and motivations by reviewing both, the things we do without thinking and with intention. From here, we adjust.
Adjustments are the intentional and balanced changes we make in our thinking and actions stemming from awareness and reflection. They are attempts at being better, trying something different. The first change is not always the correct one. Each switch in behavior brings new awareness. Often times trial and error through awareness, reflection, and adjustment is the only way to create success. Awareness does not always equate change. I think it is just as important to note creating awareness can be a victory in itself. It is unreasonable to believe we will handle every growing opportunity ideally. Maintaining kindness and patience with yourself, as well as remembering to breathe, during this discovery process is crucial. As much as we plan to grow, you’ll end up being your biggest critic. I just recommend you be your own biggest fan too.
Also as far as adjustments, I did not forget feelings. They are difficult to grapple with,
specifically when trying to make adjustments. They are better influenced as a product of our thoughts and actions. For this reason, our energy is primarily engaged in our thoughts and actions. We control what we can. I mean, think about it. Can you change feelings through feelings? Maybe, but it is definitely a more difficult as of yourself.
Following this ARA set up, everything else we will address results in a domino effect as it applies to personal growth. Improvements may seem to affect one layer, but they are all interconnected. Growth in one area will inevitably lead to challenging yourself and growth in another. We’ll think of it as layers, the outermost layer deals with exchange outside of yourself (e.g. perception, energy, and influence). The layer below is identity and behavior (who you are), what we put on display to the world. Under that are thoughts and action. These are exchanges taking place within ourselves. The base layer are feelings, or emotions, they can be the most difficult to be in sync with.
Where I really made sense of this concept was while I playing basketball and looking at a game as analogous to life. As a point guard (previously during real games, now just pick up) I am constantly thinking about time, score, the hot hand, who is struggling, defenders, the defense, plays we should run just to name a few things. But it is difficult to consciously have awareness of all of these items at once. My awareness of particular items comes in waves, either way decisions are constantly being made. During live play, or the chaos as I like to call it, I cannot consider all these things, but in the gaps we reconvene and I can make adjustments with my team. There are small gaps like dead balls (fouls and free throws) requiring small adjustments or maybe awareness is the adjustment and not a change in action, because the appropriate adjustment has not been discovered. Other large gaps (timeouts and end of quarters) allow for greater adjustments thought through more thoroughly. Whether large or small gaps, the goal is to win that next section. For me, it was just until the next dead ball, I would try to win those two minutes of play. But we have to constantly be aware, reflect and adjust to be successful.
Notice these reflections and adjustments do not occur during the madness. During the madness, or chaos is often not the time to grow, it is inconvenient. But in the gaps, there is time. We can use the time for ourselves to breathe, consider our awareness, reflect, and make adjustments. We have to stabilize first though, survive the chaos amid the fire. Stay alive grabbing what we can and think after. The scales operate in much of the same manner occurring on any time frame.
Since we’ve already implemented some awareness techniques, reflect on the things you have become aware of. Choose something you would like to change internally to improve yourself. Consider all the moving parts you may be juggling. Become aware, reflect, adjust, and repeat. Looking forward to how it goes!
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