Older female yoga student practicing virabhadrasana I warrior I yoga pose.

Increase Self-Awareness: New Decade, New Habits

By: 
Bonny Casel, ND, MAMH, MBSLM, FBRI

There is a lot of anxiety at the moment about what the new decade will bring and, although many of us know the changes that we want to see in the world around us, there are widely divergent views about what this world should look like, and how we should get there. Sadly, when people don’t pull together with a shared vision, either we get nowhere, or the power to manifest change is taken over by those who may not have our best interests at heart.

Although I don’t have ready answers for the troubles facing the world at this time, I do believe that every single person who is in touch with their higher purpose makes a difference. Increased self-awareness is where the journey to a better self begins. If we aren’t aware of where we are, how can we be aware of where we are headed, and most importantly, if where we are headed is where we want to go?

The nature of the mind is habitual. Our habits have momentum that makes it easier to repeat them. This includes what we think about, what we eat, how we interact with others, our daily rituals, and patterns of activity and movement. We truly are creatures of habit, but for many of us, most of these habits are unconscious.

One of the first assignments in the Healing Diets online course is to keep a two-week record of what and how often we drink fluids. Often I receive a note from students attached to this assignment saying how shocked they are at how little water they drink, or how often they drink coffee, or how rarely they drink at all! It is like a light has been turned on. The increase in self-awareness has changed everything, and, over the course of two weeks, they have begun to drink more.

But creating a new habit takes time. It is better to drink one additional glass of water a day permanently than it is to drink a full six to eight glasses of water a day for a month and then quit. Creating a new habit takes consistency over time. So a small, consistent step that you never fail to follow through with is the key to lasting success. Once you have established a new habit, you can then take the next step, building on successes to achieve your goals.

How Do We Change Habits?

So what if our daily habits, our small, consistent steps, are leading us toward unfulfilled, unhealthy or unhappy lives? What if our patterns of being are taking us away from our potential as a human being? What if life is slipping by and we aren’t fulfilling our potential? And what if this is all going on unconsciously, while we dismiss our lack of joy as unavoidable?

Life is made of choices, and if we can bring awareness to these choices, we have a good chance of creating the life we truly want to live. 

Knowing where to begin with assessing our lives in an authentic and meaningful way can be challenging, though. Following is an exercise to touch base and start an inner dialog that can lead to meaningful self-awareness and change. This easy exercise was developed by Sam Horn, a well-known author and speaker on communication. I love its immediacy and simplicity and hope you will too.

Female yoga student practicing yoga meditation.

4-Square Quiz

This exercise only takes a few minutes and will help you identify specific things that are working for you in life, and things that aren't so that you can develop greater focus and clarity about where you put your attention toward meaningful change.

Take a look at the grid below, and you will see four separate squares numbered 1 through 4. Next to each is a label; doing, not doing, want to do, and don’t want to do.

4 Square quiz, time management, moving into new decade with new habits

We are going to fill with each box with spontaneous responses to the following:

Square 1: What you want to do and are doing
Square 2: What you want to do and are not doing
Square 3: What you don’t want to do but are doing
Square 4: What you don’t want to do and are not doing

Remember to be spontaneous. This is not something that you should think a lot about. The process is similar to brainstorming. Whatever pops into your mind first is what you go with.

Once you've finished, first look at your responses in squares 1 and 4. These are the areas where your actions are in alignment with what feels right for you.

Now, look at the answers in squares 2 and 3. These responses show areas of your life where your actions are not in alignment with what feels right for you.

To go a little deeper, ask yourself whether any of your responses to what you are doing or not doing that feels right for you is in alignment with your higher purpose. If you are entirely spontaneous with a gut response to these questions, you may reveal an area where you are holding yourself back by focusing on wants instead of soul needs.

Two female yoga students practicing seated yoga twist pose.

Now do the same for your responses in squares 2 and 3. Perhaps you are doing something that you don’t want to do because you know it is the right thing to do? Perhaps your responses are straightforward, and the issues that have come up in squares 2 and 3 are areas of your life where you’ve been meaning to make changes but keep putting it off to someday in the future when conditions are more ideal.

Maybe these are areas of your life that you really can’t change right now. If so, then this is an excellent time to think of mini-steps to take you in the right direction. One positive step can lead to another, and step by step, choice by choice, you begin heading in the direction that you want to go.

Changing Habits Step-by-Step

One book I've recommended a lot this year is Mini Habits by Stephen Guise. It is a slim volume with brilliant suggestions on how to create new habits through a series of “too small to fail” commitments to mini habits. For example, if you want to drink seven glasses of water a day, but you consistently fail to do so and feel disheartened, commit to drinking a single glass of water when you wake up each morning. 

Older female yoga student practicing yoga meditation.

It is a manageable challenge that you can do without fail. Achieving this goal as a new habit will pave the way to a commitment to drinking two glasses of water, and then three. Of course, on any day, you can drink the full seven glasses of water, but at the very least, that first glass in the morning is sacrosanct and never missed. You get the picture.

So as we step into a new decade, let’s give some meaningful attention to where we are and where we are headed. This is a perfect time to increase awareness around our personal and professional goals, and a perfect time to contemplate how we are going to make a positive difference in our community, our country and the world.

 

Judith Hanson Lasater, Yoga teacher, Restorative Yoga, YogaU presenter, calming the nervous system, the art of forward bends

Reprinted with permission from herenowhealing.com.

Bonny Casel, Teacher, Naturopath, writerBonny Casel ND, MAMH, MBSLM, FBRI is the founder and director of the School of Natural Medicine UK, course creator of Lifestyle Medicine for Self Care, and founding director of Council for Self-Care. She is also a training provider for NHS hospital staff, guest lecturer, and speaks internationally with a focus on holistic pro-health care.

Bonny began her teaching career in 1988 and has studied with many of the leading pioneers of natural medicine of the last century, including Dr. Bernard Jensen, Dr. John Christopher, Dr. Farida Sharan, Dorothy Hall, and Denny Johnson, as well as scientists Bruce Lipton and Nassim Haramein. She has authored several accredited courses, including the comprehensive Healing Diets Nutritional Consultant and Quantum Botanicals Advanced. 

Dedicated to educating, empowering, and inspiring people to achieve independent health and quality of life, Bonny is also committed to lifelong continuing education, experiential self-care and to contribute what she can to make the world a better place. Please visit www.herenowhealing.com and www.lifestyle-medicine.com to find out more.