Inner awareness reduces unnecessary stress — the one that’s created by your own thoughts. Inner awareness also leads to better decisions, discipline, and self-control.
Through inner awareness you also discover what drives you, what gets you out of bed in the morning, and that can lead to a more fulfilling life.
If you’re wondering what inner awareness is, and how it can help you improve your mental health, keep reading…
What is inner awareness?
Pause for a second and look at your room (or wherever you are right now). Observe your environment with great attention.
Notice the colors, the sounds, the lights. Observe everything around you as if you had lost something and were trying to find it.
Done? That’s basically what awareness is. When you look at your environment, you are aware of it.
Your environment exists regardless of your awareness, but the more the awareness, the more it feels real, the more you are able to understand it.
Outer world vs inner world
If you apply the same to your inner world — your thoughts, energy, emotions, memories, etc. — then you have a pretty good idea of what inner awareness is.
When you practice inner awareness, you pay attention to your mind.
Your mind is always there. It works 24/7. But only through awareness are you able to observe it, to understand what it is and what it does.
Someone with no inner awareness will let external events dictate their decisions.
External events will trigger certain thoughts or feelings which, in turn, will trigger certain actions. But the person with no inner awareness will see the event — not their inner world — as the cause.
Advantages of inner awareness
It’s actually pretty hard to be aware of your own thoughts. That is, if you’ve never done it before. It gets easier as you do it.
Only a small percentage of the population will develop a high level of inner awareness. Will you?
If you do, expect some or all of the following seven benefits…
1. Less stress and anxiety
Here are three facts about stress, anxiety, and negative emotions in general, that you probably never considered:
- We all experience them
- Most of them are unnecessary
- Most of them are created by us
When I say “by us”, I mean by our own mind. Our mind can be our best ally and our worst enemy.
Take panic attacks, for instance: although they can be triggered by events over which we have no control, the actual attacks are created by our mind.
Our mind overreacts to a certain event, or thought of the event, and before you know it, you’re in panic mode. And you think you can’t change that. But you do! And inner awareness allows you to do that.
When you pay attention to your inner world, you realize that some of your negative emotions can, in fact, be eliminated. Because those emotions were created by the mind, not the world around you.
2. Better decisions
Your life is basically the result of millions of small decisions. All the decisions you have taken from the day you were born until this second.
Now, wouldn’t it be great to make the best possible decisions, to choose what’s right for us? Whether it’s the food we’ll eat for dinner, or our career path?
All our decisions are influenced by our inner world. Decisions are usually subjective, not objective. And that’s a good thing.
But when your ideas happen to be wrong, when your emotions aren’t positive emotions, that can lead to a series of bad decisions.
Example: if you have self-destructive thoughts, you’ll tend to self sabotage. Develop inner awareness and you’ll be aware of that.
Be aware of that, and you’ll be able to challenge it. And make better decisions.
3. More discipline
What motivates you? Why do you wake up in the morning? And when things don’t go your way, what is it that keeps you going?
Identify those (through inner awareness) and you’ll naturally have more discipline and willpower than the average person.
For example: through inner awareness, you may discover that your levels of motivation are higher when you work in a group.
Or, you may discover that you are driven by the thought of creating things, or finding new solutions to old problems.
Whatever it is that motivates you, you can identify it if you pay close attention to your inner world.
4. Better outlook on life
When you consume information (be it the news, this website, or that chatty coworker who can’t help gossiping) you always filter the information.
The source may be 100 percent objective, but your own opinion, your interpretation of it will be subjective. In a good or bad way.
The same applies to everything you see around you — the world, and this thing we call life.
What if you were able to see things objectively? What if you saw life as it is, without adding any type of negative or positive thoughts to it?
That can be a very liberating experience, a profound experience. And how do you achieve it?
You achieve it by paying attention to your inner world, and then dissolve it. You first listen to your own thoughts, opinions, ideas, preconceptions… and then silence them.
5. Freedom from the mind
Have you ever dreamed of a state in which you could just turn off your mind and let go? You probably have.
That’s tricky, though. We have roughly 6,000 thoughts every single day. And even when we fall asleep we may dream. Our mind truly works 24/7.
But… the more you are aware of your mind, the more you realize that it’s not you. You have the power to detach from it because it’s not you.
With inner awareness, you can observe your mind and imagine it’s an annoying person shouting at you, and you can choose not to listen to them.
That’s one of the easiest ways to turn off the mind. You listen to it, you become aware of it… then you choose to ignore it… and you are liberated from it.
Do you tend to react to things?
Again: the way you react to something has a lot to do with your inner world — your thoughts about it, your feelings about it.
So the reaction (or overreaction) itself isn’t actually caused by a certain person, or event, or situation. It’s caused by you.
Without inner awareness, it can be hard to understand it. With inner awareness, it’s quite obvious.
Inner awareness won’t turn you into a robot, but it’ll help you understand the gap between triggers and actions — cause and effect.
That tiny gap can often be controlled, and that’s the difference between people with self-control and those with, say, anger issues.
7. A better life
Lastly, inner awareness naturally leads to a better, more fulfilling, more authentic life.
As you practice introspection and inner awareness, you’ll be able to identify what makes you happy. You, not everyone else.
Then, you can base your whole life on that. And have a life that’s pretty good. Better than good.
Inner awareness tells you that some people are meant for you, and others aren’t. It tells you that you are most productive when you do the things you love.
It tells you that you are not your past, that the past does not necessarily shape future decisions, that you are free to be whoever you want.
How to develop inner awareness
Give these a try! In no particular order:
- Meditation. It has been practiced for thousands of years, and the benefits of it are now proven scientifically as well. Meditation is probably the easiest way to detach from the mind and develop awareness of the self in general.
- Journaling. Write down your thoughts. It helps you become aware of them. It helps you challenge the thoughts that are inaccurate, or unhelpful. Pen and paper is all you need, and it can be done whenever you have five minutes of free time.
- Therapy. Although different issues will need different approaches, there is usually a common denominator, and that is, to become more aware of your inner world (including the issue itself). With no awareness, you are powerless. Therapy helps you become aware.
- Solitude. I’m an introvert, and I enjoy being on my own. But even I find it difficult to be alone and distraction free from time to time. Why? Because that’s the condition in which we are basically forced to listen to your own thoughts. It’s uncomfortable, but it makes you grow.
- Go to bed. I’m being serious. Right before you fall asleep, pay attention to your thoughts. Notice how your mind goes through all the events of the day. That’s when your brain waves change frequency. It’s a state of profound relaxation, which is ideal for inner awareness.