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Self-Awareness: Why Do We Fear It and How to Master It

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Can you imagine a life where you are completely honest with yourself about who you are? I am talking total transparency with oneself while feeling good about it no matter what you discover.

It is a question I shied away from for most of my life since it scared me and intimidated me.

Did I want to admit to myself that I use anger as a way to dominate people? No. Or that I used the silent treatment to punish those who didn’t get me what I want? Another no. Or that I tend to stay in toxic relationships to experience pain and subconsciously punish myself as a result of my childhood trauma? I let you guess. 

We don’t want to admit that we manipulate, control or self-sabotage ourselves. No one does because it doesn’t provide instant gratification, and it doesn’t tell us that we are amazing and we can be anything that we dream about. 

No. Self-awareness is a disservice to our ego because often, it’s about brutal truth and intimidating self-discoveries. And that’s where the opportunity lies for all of us. 

Why do we shy away from the truth?

There is a thin line between self-awareness and self-judgment. For many of us, guilt becomes a way of life. Whether as a result of childhood trauma, negative self-talk, or someone who constantly criticizes us, we struggle with self-judgment. Therefore acknowledging our shortcomings, manipulative or controlling behavior, or toxic traits becomes almost impossible to face. 

Let me make something clear. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you manipulate people or situations, that you procrastinate as a result of self-doubt, that you have toxic traits or that you take excessively long showers. 

Understand that any unwanted trait you possess is often a result of what happened to you, not what’s wrong with you. If you find yourself being toxic as I have, It doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it doesn’t make you less valuable, it doesn’t decrease your worth, it simply makes you aware.

Is the “truth” really true? 

To offer you a different perspective, let me use a statistical example. Based on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

That’s 90% of children who have experienced trauma of some sort that impacts their healthy development, self-esteem, and overall mental health. 

Considering that these children never deal with their past, how do you think they will act like adults? The majority of them will take lots of unhealthy habits and beliefs into their adulthood. 

With this information in mind, let me ask you this: Do these experiences shape them or define them? 

They definitely shape them. They shape their behavior, attitude, and even their personality. But they don’t define them in terms of who they are in their core. And this is an important distinction I want you to consider. 

If who you are today is a result of your upbringing, how you grew up, and who impacted you the most, how can you feel guilty for what you have accumulated over the years? It’s not yours. It’s something that’s been given to you. That’s why I said that these experiences may shape you but don’t define you. Through self-awareness, you have an opportunity to see what you can transform and find your way back to yourself.

“The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself.” — David Goggins

Finding the courage to wake up

I came to the conclusion that the majority of people don’t change because they have no idea what needs to change. Since becoming aware may be intimidating, we often opt out and live in denial while feeling exhausted from pretending to others and ourselves. 

So how do we overcome this fear of knowing ourselves and aim for a real, lasting transformation? Let’s break it down into three simple steps:

Step #1 The quality of your inner circle

Once you start acknowledging the truth, you want to surround yourself with people who are on the same or similar mission of transformation as yourself.  It is for two reasons. First, you will cause a “me too” effect, where the person feels understood just by knowing they are not alone and also inspired to do the same. Second, you will experience the freedom of expression. 

Since facing our shadows triggers us, brings feelings of guilt or shame, or it simply doesn’t feel like a trip to Disneyland, it’s imperative to create a safe space. The more you practice sharing yourself with the right people, the easier it will become to master the skill of self-awareness. You’ll discover that those traits or behaviors you may be afraid to look at are the same traits and behaviors many of us deal with daily. 

Step #2 Opt-in for a judgment-free zone

I am sure that at this point, you understand how important it is to stay away from judgment when practicing self-awareness. 

Some of the most significant moments of transformation happened when I got fed up with my own bullshit and acknowledged the negative mindset I maintained. However, it wasn’t easy at the beginning. Since I was programmed to constantly judge myself, I tend to slip from awareness to self-judgment and spiral into one of my guilt-driven behaviors. Luckily, I was able to become aware of it. Talk about the silver lining. 

Your journey to self-awareness must be judgment-free. Guilt is overbearing, toxic, and discouraging, especially if it’s repeated over and over. What we are aiming for is love and kindness. Approaching ourselves from the place of understanding and compassion is not optional but necessary when it comes to facing our shadows. We can only grow if we are coming from a positive and uplifting place in our heads. 

Step #3 Using what we discover 

Once you find the courage to face traits and behaviors you wish to change and then acknowledge them with love and compassion, it’s time to accept them. Remember that there is nothing wrong with you. It’s only what happened to you that brought you to this place in life.  

Now that you are aware of how you behave, observe it and take it easy. Watch yourself in uncomfortable or pressured situations and notice your feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Become an observer

Once you become more mindful, you will be able to consciously choose different ways of behavior. And the more you do it, the more proud and confident you will feel in your ability to change. Awareness is a game-changer if you use it right. 

Conclusion 

Although self-awareness is about the positive and negative sides of our personality, I wanted to point out those areas we are afraid to look at. 

Authentic transformation can only happen if we are brave enough to acknowledge what we want to improve and change while, at the same time, approaching it from a healthy place of understanding and empathy.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with you by finding things you may not like about yourself. Self-awareness is a profound skill to master since it offers you powerful insights into the most important person of your life – yourself.

Silvia Turonova is a mindset coach who teaches women how to develop more self-trust and inner confidence while learning how to bet on themselves. She hosts a podcast Courage Within You and is passionate about teaching others how to coach themselves. Get her free self-coaching worksheet here.

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Life

The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.

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Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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