Let me ask you a question: what emotions did you experience today? Were you happy? Sad? Frustrated or anxious? Recalling your emotions from the last 24 hours is pretty easy but what about yesterday? Or last Friday? It starts to be a bit hard. What if I’m asking you about last month?
Emotions affect us every minute and every second. When you feel anxious at work, you’re more likely to make mistakes and it’s harder to come up with great ideas. When you’re frustrated for unknown reasons, you lose motivation and would just like to lie on your bed doing nothing. When you’re angry with someone, you unconsciously treat others angrily too. Losing track of emotions means losing track of all these. You’ll never know the reasons and patterns and hence never be to solve the issues and improve the situation.
Emotions should be approached like money
People treat money with so much importance yet they can be so dismissive of their emotions and how they affect them. When we have less money than we’d like, we’ll automatically tune our spending and keep track of where it’s going and how much we have – adapting our spending habits accordingly. In other words, if one doesn’t keep track then there’s no way to tune and improve it.
This is how emotions should be approached. By putting the same importance on how we feel, acknowledging why we feel a certain way and what’s caused it, we’re able to tune better into identifying and handling emotions in a more positive way.
3 things to mark down every day
Throughout any given day, write down the following:
Your general emotion of the day
The events of the day
The link between your emotion and what happened
You’ll notice your emotions fluctuate on different days. This is completely normal. After all, we’re human and it can be difficult to control what happens to us and how we respond to them so it’s important to give yourself a bit of understanding.
Because of this, it’s impossible to always maintain a happy mood so don’t put pressure on yourself to consistently feel positive emotions.
Once you start tracking your moods and the events of the day you can start to see the connections between them. Reviewing your emotions means being able to see what exactly makes you happy, anxious or sad. Youmight not know rainy days make you sullen before. You might not be aware initiating a greeting to your neighbor can make you feel energetic for the rest of the day until you mark all these down.
You can use excel or mood apps such as Mr Mood which can help you see correlations more clearly. Try it out for a few days but keep it general – try to not rate your mood by the hour as it’s more likely to fluctuate in smaller time frames. Instead rate your overall mood of the day along with the events that occurred.
Over time, although fluctuations still exist, you’ll see your mood is boosted overall as you cultivate more positive experiences and curb negative ones once you identify what they are. Previously bad weather made you feel sad, now you still feel a bit sad but you know how to make fun out of it by staying at home doing things you’ve always wanted to do but postponed. Previously you would only be happy when your manager noticed your efforts and recognized you. Now you realize how important recognition is to you after marking down your mood every day. And you’ve decided to recognize yourself whenever you think you’re worth it, even if no one noticed your efforts.
“If you want to change the visible, first, change the invisible.”
You’ll find that taking care of your invisible emotions actually means taking care of every aspect of your life. That’s the magic.
Chances are, you’re busy hustling between the 40 hours a week you need to work, the family you need to provide for, and the bills that need to be paid.
As the years pass by, you’ve begun to feel the burnout from all the needs and expectations required of you. You don’t feel like you are in control over your own life. In fact, it feels like the circumstances in your life are controlling you.
What if there was a way for you to be able to have better control of your life and create all the positive changes you’ve been aching for?
This can be done through self-realization.
You’ve probably heard of this concept before, but you’re not really sure what it really is or how it can help you.
I’m going to dive into what exactly self-realization is and the exact steps you can take to attain it for yourself. Read on if you want to learn how to unlock your potential and find a way to decrease your stress and anxiety, and gain crystal clear clarity about who you are and what you’re capable of.
Self-realization has a few big definitions. In the Western world, it’s generally defined as the activation of one’s full potential of talents and abilities.
How Psychologists Define Self-Realization
Humanistic psychology also follows a similar train of thought about self-realization.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow has named people he considered to have reached self-realization such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to name a few. His famous hierarchy of needs theory states in order to achieve self-realization (or in this case, Maslow uses the term “self-actualization”), one needs to have a certain set of needs met before achieving it:
For example, self-realization cannot be achieved if you are struggling financially and too caught up in worrying about how to pay for the rent and provide food for your family. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for many people, which leaves little opportunity for them to maximize their abilities.
How Religions Define Self-Realization
In religions, the concept of self-realization is taken from a different perspective altogether. Connecting with your truest self has a lot to do with transcending your own mind and body. This self is often considered as an eternal being that is not confined to the physical space that your mind and body take up. Many recognize this part of yourself as the soul.
To put all of these definitions together, self-realization is ultimately learning the answer to the foundational question, “Who am I?”
The answer lies from understanding that you are not your emotions or your thoughts. Who you really are is not even your body or your mind. These are all things you as a self experience, but they are not you.
And when you are too caught up in these things that are not yours, that’s when you fall victim to and get stuck in your negative experiences such as stress, anxiety and fear.
While your thoughts, feelings, and physical body always changes, you do not.
I know this concept can be a bit confusing to understand, so here’s a great video that explores who you really are explained by Prince EA. It was a video made in response to a bizarre interview session with Comedian Jim Carrey at the red carpet interview at the 2017 New York Fashion Week.
Here’s the video:
Why Self-Realization Matters to You
How often are you distracted, lost in your thoughts, or overwhelmed by difficult emotions?
Being in the present is more difficult than ever with the technology today. People are often buried in their smartphones or laptops while others around are craving their attention.
Most people spend so little time in the present. They’re usually either hurt and having trouble letting go of their past, or busy worrying about their futures:
“People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”
Here are some amazing benefits to self-realization:
The ability to monitor your emotions. Rather than being controlled by your emotions, you can now use your observations about them during the experience to learn how to effectively handle things like fear, anxiety and stress. Self-realizations helps you do this by giving you the skill of letting go of debilitating feelings and taking hold of the empowering ones instead.
Improved focus and concentration. Guided by your own inner goals and values, self-realization helps you easily identify when you are entering into distractions and eliminate them. By getting rid of the meaningless things in your life, you stay committed to what matters most and you begin to see real results as you reach your fullest potential.
Increased confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. By being connected deeply to your truest self, self-realization frees you from any insecurities, worries, and low sense of self worth that you feel tangled up in by helping you really grasp the truth that you are not defined by them.
Becoming more accepting of yourself and of other people. You are able to be more authentic and express emotions freely and clearly. As a result, you are able to form deeper relationships and spend more time connecting with people rather than trying to impress them.
When people don’t have a strong sense of their own self, they get easily swayed to live life the way other people tell them to live it.
The truth of this has been shown through Bronnie Ware’s famous work, which has shown that one of the top regrets of people who are dying was:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
There can be tons of pressure whether it’s from work, society, and even friends and family for you to be a certain way. Maybe your rough upbringing instilled a strong need for other’s approval in you so you do what others expect of you. Maybe you’ve stopped trusting people because of your struggles with letting go of the thoughts and experiences that hurt you.
Whatever the situation, self-realization gives you the safe space you need to heal and grow.
One of my favorite apps that guide you through meditation is Headspace.
I particularly love this app because it is very straightforward without all the woo-woo types of things you normally associate with meditation. It does a great job of demystifying what meditation really is and how it can benefit you to achieving self-realization.
Here’s a great explanation of what meditation does for you:
You can get the basic meditation guidance for free or pay for a premium version for access to more specific meditations that improve things like self esteem, creativity and relationships.
In case you don’t want to download the app, here is the simple meditation practice you can do right now:
Sit comfortably on a chair.
Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
Take about a minute to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
After a few deep breaths, gently close your eyes while you are breathing out.
Resume normal breathing.
Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment with having nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to check.
Take a moment to feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
Gently bring the focus back to your breathing.
As you sit there beginning to notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation, don’t try and stop your thoughts. Simply allow them to just come and go.
At this point, the only thing you need to do is when you’ve realized your mind has wandered, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
Gently bring the attention back to your body, back to that feeling of contact to your chair and the space around you and when ready, gently open your eyes again.
Even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day, learning to train your mind to be present is so important to your journey towards self-realization. You need to take a step back from the craziness of life and recompose yourself to be present for the things that matter most.
Another great method that can be used to achieve self-realization that involves a bit more body strength is yoga. While there are many variations of yoga and has also become a very popular form of exercise in western culture, its original purpose served as a meditative practice to achieve the higher level of consciousness that comes from self-realization.
You can access plenty of free Yoga channels on Youtube or join a gym to get started.
2. Make Time for Self-Realization Every Day
I know what you’re thinking.
“I don’t have time for this!”
I beg to differ.
About 40 percent of the things you do in a day don’t involve you actively making a decision. Instead, it is actually a habit.
Out of all of your habits, there are probably a handful of bad ones. If you can observe your daily routines, there is a simple way to change a bad habit into a good one, which is to start making changes to your environment to make it easier for you to change your habits.
The idea is rather than trying to squeeze in more time to do something, simply alter a daily habit you have into something else.
For example, let’s say you start your morning by brewing your coffee and sitting down on the dining table for 20 minutes to browse the internet to catch up on the news.
The news is usually full of negative information, so why not spend those 20 minutes in meditation instead?
One easy way to make this change is to change your environment up by keeping your laptop and phone in a different room so you don’t have immediate access to it when you sit down on the dining table. You make it easier on yourself to spend time meditating rather than staring at a screen.
Want some more great tips on breaking bad habits? You can try out Lifehack CEO’s secret Control Alternate Delete method, which was the method he used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months.
Self-realization doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time and practice, but if you turn the practices into a habit, you’ll be guaranteed to get there. Once you do, you’ll finally feel like you are in more control over your life and be able to get yourself to the next level.
Now that you have a better understanding of the importance and benefits of self-realization, why not take a moment to put everything down and give it a try?