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The Secrets to Self-Awareness

By ThinkingNo Comments

The Secrets to:

self-awareness-image
Self-awareness.

Self-awareness is about understanding more about you. It’s about being aware of your thoughts, feelings, ego, knowledge, skills, experiences, relationships, communication, strengths & weaknesses, drives and behaviours in a situation. Self-awareness isn’t something you do just once or occasionally. It should be an on-going day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment task.

There are numerous benefits to being more self-aware. A good example is that you can use self-awareness to change how you respond to different discussions and events to get better outcomes. It is just about you being aware of yourself and how you influence others. Nobody can be self-aware at all times, but you can make yourself more self-aware.

So how do you become more self-aware? Here’s my suggestions, based on research online and my own experiences:

1. Observation
Observe everything going on around you. Including yourself and how you interact with others.

2. Reflection
Reflect on just about everything. It could be a past experience, or reflecting on something you’ve learned or read. Consider:

  • Who? What? Why? How? When?
  • What were your thought?
  • What were your feelings?
  • What were your behaviours? How did others behave?
  • What outcome did you want? Did you get it? If not, what could you do differently?
  • What did you learn? How can you use this learning in the future?

People have lots of different ways of reflecting. Some good ideas include: meditation, keeping a daily journal and counselling sessions (using the counsellor as a sort of sounding board).

Two important things about reflection:
1. You’ve got to practice reflection to get good at it.
2. It has to become a regular behavioural habit.

3. Balanced Thinking
When observing or reflecting ensure that your thinking is balanced. When it comes to ourselves we are often too critical and only see the negatives. Be fair and kind to yourself. Recognise both the positives and negatives.

4. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is about being able to recognising how you are feeling and the emotions of others around you. A good way of developing emotional intelligence is to replay past situations in your mind and consider what emotions people in the situations (including yourself) were experiencing.

Emotional intelligence will enable you to have more control of your emotions, when/how you express them and being able to influence others on an emotional level.

It might also be worth learning more about body language as 80% of communication is non-verbal.

5. Honest Feedback
Honest feedback about yourself is important for self-awareness. Any feedback should come from a person that only wants to help you to improve yourself. If you suspect that feedback coming from a person is because of their own self-interest or because of another agenda, think carefully about its bias.

You can get feedback from family, friends, work colleagues, customers, practically anyone. Usually all you have to do is ask.

It’s good to know about the 5 to 1 ratio. The person giving you feedback should give you 5 authentic compliments to 1 piece of specific constructive criticism.

The person you ask for feedback may not of heard of the 5 to 1 ratio. So it might be worth discussing it with them prior to asking for feedback. It would also be good if you started using the 5 to 1 ratio when you give feedback to others.

6. List Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate your strengths and develop weaknesses.

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7. Encourage Open Questions
Encourage open questions that stimulate debate and discussion in all areas of your life. Debating and discussing opinions is a really good way to become more self-aware and develop awareness of others.

8. Know Your Story
The stories we tell ourselves, especially those about ourselves give insight to all things self-awareness. So know your story. Know how your past influences your now and how it could potentially impact on your future. Listen carefully to the narrative.

If there narrative is highly negative or too critical, you may want to sit down and rewrite your story on paper. Once you’ve done that start telling yourself and others your new story.

9. Life Goals
Write down your life goals. This exercise is brilliant for self-awareness, especially if you do the introspection as you develop your life goals.

10. Coaching
I’ve never had coaching. But there seems to be a widely held belief that good coaching encourages self-awareness. I can see how this would work. Like most things, the more you put into coaching in terms of self-awareness the more you’ll get out of it.

11. Our Own Version of the Truth
Two people can experience the same event, yet have completely different perspectives and views about it. We all have our own version of the truth. Remember this.

12. Psychometric tests
There are many psychometric tests available, each with its own Pros and Cons. Perhaps the most well-known is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) based on the work of Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst. You can take a MBTI test for free and view your results here.

Useful Online Resources
5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware – Harvard Business Review
Ways to Improve Your Self-Awareness – Cleverim
Know Thyself: How to Develop Self-Awareness – Psychology Today

Write soon,

Antony

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Life Hiatus – My Mental Health In-Patient Admission and Diagnosis of a ‘Mood Disorder’

By Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Health, Life, Money / Finances, Shopping, Thinking2 Comments
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My Nameband.

Recently, I had to take an unexpected what-I-call Life Hiatus. My mental health had gradually deteriorated to the point were I was having severe and erratic mood swings. Everyone’s mood fluctuates throughout the day, but not to the extremes I was experiencing.

People talk about good and bad days with depression. I was having good, bad, okay or mixed mood states lasting between 45 minutes to 4-6 hours. These mood swings were unpredictable with no pattern. They didn’t have triggers and were not related to a critical inner voice.

These mood swings were torturous. See My Mood Swing Table below for details of what these mood swings were like.

I felt desperate for the mood swings to end. To the point of having suicidal ideation and a clear plan of action.

I had thought that I was objective about my mental health. But because the mood swings had gradually got worse I hadn’t realised how unwell I was. I sought help because three people close to me said that I wasn’t well. Luckily I had these people around me and knew that could trust them, even if I couldn’t trust myself.

So I went to my local A&E. I was assessed by a Mental Health Nurse and together we decided that I needed admission. I stayed on the A&E Ward overnight, whilst I waited for an available bed on a mental health ward.

The next evening, I was transferred to a mental health ward. On arrival at the ward, my possessions were searched and Nursing Staff took my shoe laces, belt, hoodie (due to cord in hood), phone charger, lighters and medication. The ward layout was a square shaped main corridor with dormitories, individual rooms and many other rooms that where behind locked doors.

The first night was frightening. Everything about the place was frightening. The environment. The locked doors. The routine. The rules I hadn’t been told. The other patients. The staff. I even found my own mood swings frightening. At one point, I was physically shaking uncontrollably due to the fear and anxiety.

I was assessed by a Psychiatrist and commenced on 10 minute observations. It would be a few days before I was reviewed. At the time, I couldn’t understand why they appeared to be doing very little to help me and my state of mind. But afterwards, I realised that they had wanted to observe me and see my mood swings for themselves.

The Consultant Psychiatrist diagnosed me with a ‘Mood Disorder.’ Here is a definition of a ‘mood disorder:’

mood disorder
noun
a psychological disorder characterized by the elevation or lowering of a person’s mood, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

(From: Google, Last Accessed: Friday 27th November 2015.)

The Consultant Psychiatrist informed me that they were reluctant to give a more specific diagnosis on the first admission to a mental health ward. I told the Consultant Psychiatrist that I didn’t care what they called it, as long as they gave me some medication that worked. I explained that with some stability in mood, I could make further psychological and behavioural changes to help myself to get well and stay well.

I was started on Quetiapine, an antipsychotic and mood stabiliser medication. It was to help to take the edge off my mood swings and give me some stability of mood. I was also started on Mirtazapine, an antidepressant. This was to help to manage the depression/low moods.

Overall, I was an in-patient on the mental health ward for about 12 days. During this time, my Mum and good friend Steve were superb. They took over all my responsibilities and made sure that everything in the outside world was sorted, meaning that I didn’t have to worry about anything – apart from getting better.

I will never be able to thank Mum and Steve enough for what they have done for me, but I have repeatedly thanked them anyway. I will never be able to explain how much I appreciate them for everything that they have done for me, but I have tried to explain anyway.

I feel that I got to this crisis point because I waited so long to get referred to and assessed by Community Mental Health Services. It feels like Community Mental Health Services are designed to keep people out, rather than let people in to get the help and support that they need and in most cases are asking for. This is probably because of a lack of resources in mental health services. But this really doesn’t help and support people with mental health problems to get and stay well.

I have been discharged from the hospital and am and engaged with Community Mental Health Services. Recovery will be a slow and progressive one. I am taking the medication as prescribed, attending appointments with community services and setting myself daily goals that I am currently achieving.

Write soon,

Antony

My Mood Swing Table
Highs
Okays
Lows
Mixed Mood States
Physical Symptoms
  • High energy levels.
  • Very productive.
  • Difficulty in getting/staying asleep.
  • Head aches.
  • Speaking Quickly.
  • Hypersexualised.
  • Relatively symptom free. Considering the extreme High and Low physical symptoms.
  • Exhaustion – despite sleeping for many, many hours.
  • Back pain and stomach pain that doesn’t resolve with appropriate treatments.
  • Head aches.
  • Constipation.
  • Physical anxiety symptoms: raised pulse and blood pressure.
  • A mix of high, low and okay physical symptoms to varying degrees of severity.
Mental / Cognitive Symptoms
  • Racing thoughts – lots of ideas, but struggling to focus on one for long enough.
  • Difficulty in concentrating.
  • A rush of ideas for creative projects.
  • Saying whatever I think without considering the implications of what I’m saying.
  • Grandiose thinking – Thinking I can do anything to a level beyond the level of an expert.
  • Thinking that I understand things on a much deeper level than everyone else.
  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Insomnia and night terrors.
  • Slower mental and cognitive functioning, compared to when I was well.
  • Limited/no concentration span.
  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Critical inner voice.
  • Thoughts about what other people negatively think about me.
  • Insomnia and night terrors.
  • Concern about loosing my mind.
  • A mix of high, low and okay mental / cognitive symptoms to varying degrees of severity.
  • Concern about loosing my mind.
  • Concern about what mood would come next and its severity.
Emotional Symptoms
  • Excessively joyful with no reason for this state of mood.
  • Super confident. Loads of self-esteem.
  • Excessively excited again without reason.
  • Feeling like I can do anything.
  • Feeling frustrated or irritable without a reason.
  • Varying levels of anxiety, from worried to outright panic.
  • Void of any emotion.
  • Zombified. Feeling like what I imagine a zombie feels like.
  • Going through the motions.
  • Despair and hopelessness.
  • No confidence and rockbottom self-esteem.
  • Feeling frustrated or irritable without a reason.
  • Feeling like I am falling down a dark bottomless pit.
  • Feeling guilt, inadequacy and feeling like a failure.
  • Varying levels of anxiety, from worried to outright panic.
  • Desperation – wanting the mental and emotional anguish to end.
  • Feeling like my mind, body and soul are being devoured and destroyed.
  • A mix of high, low and okay emotional symptoms to varying degrees of severity.
Behavioural Examples
  • Being super productive.
  • Being overtly social.
  • Take on too many commitments, thinking that I can do everything.
  • Impulsive behaviours – including excessive shopping, even when I don’t have the money.
  • Unfinished tasks – sometimes being unable to focus for long enough on tasks to complete them.
  • Able to function, but only just.
  • Loss of interest in leisure activities.
  • Unable to watch TV, read or do other leisure activities.
  • Overeating or forcing myself to eat despite having no appetite.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • No motivation.
  • Reckless spending of money – mostly through online shopping.
  • Social anxiety – isolating myself and avoiding social situations.
  • A mix of high, low and okay behaviours to varying degrees of severity.

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Book Review: Gaysia – Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law

By Amazon, Books & Authors, Gay, ReviewsNo Comments
gaysia-benjamin-law-book-cover Journalist Benjamin Law is an Australian with Asian roots. In Gaysia, he takes us on a tour of Asia showing us all things gay across the continent.

Benjamin with his warm and engaging writers voice takes us to: Bali to meet the money boys and explore the cheap tourist destination; Thailand to see the world of trans Lady Boys in Miss Tiffany’s Beauty Pageant; China to interview gay men and lesbian women who often marry one another; Japan to explore the explosion of non-sexual Drag Queens on TV and the underground lesbian subculture; Malaysia to meet Christian and Muslim fundamentalists who claim they can cure homosexuality; Myanmar were HIV positive people are so poor that only one in five can get life saving treatment; India to interview people in the LGBT rights movement and to meet a man that claims he can cure homosexuality with yoga.

Benjamin’s description is perfect, covering the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and sensations of each place and experience. This makes the reader feel that they are sharing his adventure from start to finish. Benjamin documents his observations and interviews well; but for the majority of the book he holds back from experiencing first-hand what it is like to be gay in the countries that he visits. Whereas it wouldn’t have been practical or appropriate in some countries, it would have been great to see Benjamin dressed as a Drag Queen in an attempt to get on Japanese TV. Benjamin does make up for this, by attending his first Pride in India in the final chapter of the book. It would have been pleasing if he had included some glossy photos in the book of places he’d visited and possibly people he’d met.

Gaysia starts with relatively light-hearted subject matter but quickly moves on to more heavy subject matter. Emotive subjects such as: the lack of civil rights, the lack of access to HIV medications and gay cures all gave a negative impression of being gay in Asia. But this is a real and honest account of what being gay in Asia means, and was usually told to him by the gay people of Asia he interviewed.

Gaysia is travel writing, but not a holiday guidebook. Instead it is a captivating in depth look at Asian societies, cultures and subcultures of the gay sexual minority group. Gaysia is educational, enlightening and a must read for anyone whose interested in travelling to the Asian continent to experience gay Asia or anyone who loves Asian culture, food or places.

Gaysia is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,

Antony

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More people practicing The Craft

By Life, Money / Finances, Music & Radio, Paganism, ThinkingNo Comments

As 2009 approaches (ok well it’s upon us but I’m a little behind), more people are turning to The Craft (witchcraft) to rid their woes of 2008.

I was listening to the Radio, the presenter was advising people to write down their concerns and shred them using a shredder. The majority of people calling in to the show where planning to write on their paper about financial concerns (i.e. credit card bills, other bills, etc.) due to the current global economic crisis.

As I drove I smiled to myself, knowing that this is a form on magick.
Thought & Intention – Writing on the paper & the physical act of shreding.
The energy – Created through the slicing of the shredder.

If there are things you wish to rid yourself off in 2009, I would recommend this method. But I would suggest you balance it with some positive intentions of things you wish to bring in to your life.

Blessed Be,

Antony

Coming soon: My goals of 2009.

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