(Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Garret Kramer, author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life. Garret is the founder and managing partner of Inner Sports, LLC. His revolutionary approach to performance has transformed the careers of professionals athletes and coaches, Olympians, and collegiate players across a multitude of sports. Kramer’s work has been featured on WFAN, ESPN, Fox, and CTV, as well as in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other national publications. For more information on the author visit http://www.garretkramer.com, and you can follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.)

Awareness. That’s the subject of many of the questions I’ve received lately. Readers are wondering about the signs of a low level of awareness, consciousness, or state of mind. As one reader recently asked, “If I’m not seeing life clearly and prone to making poor choices from a low mind-set, then how do I know when I’m low and, therefore, stillpower is the best option?”

Good question. Here are twelve intuitive signs that you’re making decisions, changes, or corrections from a low state of mind and it’s time to ease off the gas and let the mind settle.

1. You notice your thinking.

Productive states of mind are the result of fluent or undetectable thinking. Contentment, consistency, and excellence spawn from intuition or insight — never the intellect.

2. You feel bound up, anxious, or angry.

Feeling out of options, lacking confidence, and volatility are clear-cut signals that your viewpoint is temporarily blurred. Insecurity is a normal byproduct of the fact that you think (and thus, at times, will overthink) — it is not related to the events of your life.

3. You are judgmental of others.

Judgment is the effect of a low state of mind; it has nothing to do with other people or their actions. From a high state of mind, you will have compassion and understanding for the same person whom you judge or disrespect from a low state of mind.

4. You are blaming your circumstances for the way you feel.

Whether you grasp it or not, all people discern the world from the inside out, not the outside in. The way you feel about your circumstances (past and present) is solely determined by the quality of your thinking — which is always changing. That’s why you’ll perceive the exact same circumstance differently from moment to moment.

5. You keep looking outside of yourself for answers.

If you are on a constant quest for fulfillment; jumping from relationship to relationship, team to team, school to school, city to city, guru to guru, self-help technique to . . . you get the idea, then you’re only preventing your mind-set from ascending on its own. Remember, if allowed to sit still, a glass of murky water always becomes clear.

6. You try to think positively.

Negativity is a fundamental and necessary part of the human experience. Those who understand the arbitrary and meaningless nature of thought would never try to change or fix their thinking. If you combat wayward thoughts by trying to override them with positive ones, you will only energize and prolong the negativity.

7. You are focusing on the illness and not your health.

Waging a continuous battle to overcome your perceived deficits is like fighting a paper tiger. From a high state of mind, we recognize our innate health and empower it; from a low state, we detect illness, and, if we buy in, it becomes the standard.

8. You take things personally.

When in a low mind-set, we take things to heart; we’re sensitive and defensive. When in a high mind-set, outsiders can’t touch us. It’s okay to feel vulnerable; it will happen as you experience normal fluctuations of consciousness. But don’t forget, your feelings are a barometer of the quality of your thinking, not a barometer of the quality of your life.

9. You are intimidated or afraid.

Fear is an intuitive signal. When fear is real, we instinctually respond in the moment — with no thought or tension. If you’re thinking about another person or situation and are intimidated, then what you’re thinking is a self-created illusion born from your momentarily low psychological perspective.

10. You can’t find your passion.

Passion is 100 percent an inside job. We are passionate when our consciousness is elevated; we are passionless when it’s deflated. So, when you lack drive or enthusiasm, don’t look for the explanation in your career or your life. Consider it this way: Young children are passionate and wondrous about everything. Why? Peace of mind and consciousness are their norm.

11. You believe that you’ll feel better when…

External events or milestones have no ability to regulate your level of satisfaction or joy. Your state of mind creates your experience; your experience (fortune, fame, health, or lack thereof) has zero effect on your state of mind.

12. You are practicing awareness.

Often, this final sign is misunderstood. If you practice awareness, you turn a built-in process into a forced strategy or technique. Thus, your thinking revs up, intuition is stifled, and your perceptual field (options, opportunities, hope) narrows. Understanding that there is a direct connection between your state of mind and your perceptions is the only key to productive decisions.

(Photo credit: Woman Practicing Meditation via Shutterstock)

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