Emotional Intelligence Starts with Self-Awareness

Awareness is defined as being conscious at all times of all you do, say and how you feel. In other words, when you are consciously in “observer mode”, you are able to modulate your emotional responses in real-time. Learning to be our own observer can be an empowering experience. Very often, when we are not aware, we use our past to justify our present and lock ourselves in a vicious cycle where no change is possible.

You can compare this to looking into the mirror in the morning, and then dealing with any imperfections. Observing your behaviour and your reaction to other people is a similar process. By observing our patterns, we are acknowledging who we are NOW, and deciding how to change anything we don’t like. This is not to apportion blame, or guilt, not to worry (a negative emotion we really don’t need); but to understand that WE always hold in our own hands the power to change whatever is undesirable in our lives.


The power to change, and being empowered, can only be in our own hands – it is never a power held by others, be it your parents, partner, children, or friends. Look in the mirror, look closely, but don’t close your eyes and let others audit your behaviour and reactions any more than you would let them deal with that little spot on your face.

Body Awareness

Learn to observe what goes on in your body. For example, what areas are tense or aching? This will lead you to how you feel, which stems from the underlying belief that you hold about that situation or emotion; which determines the way you act; and ultimately to holding yourself accountable for the way you chose to react or behave (The Four Dimensions of Change).

The Authentic Self

This process will help lead to the emergence of your authentic self – and eventually to living the life you were meant to live.

Once the awareness is there, you can then exercise your personal choice as to how to act or react to the recurring situation. I am not asking you to accept bad situations, rotten jobs, abusive partners, but to learn how to develop an “authentic self”, to assess your own awareness in terms of creating the possibilities for change in your life now. As the saying goes, “when you let go of who you think you are you will become who you really are”.

You can understand your past by observing yourself in the present, as the interaction between the Four Dimensions of Change will stem from whatever you have not come to terms with in your past. This will help you to extract wisdom from your past so that it no longer constrains you in the present and, to discern possibilities for making changes  that create a more positive future.

For me, self-development has very much been about self-awareness, observing ourselves in how we feel, think, say, and act; as well as evaluating and integrating the feedback that we receive along the way when responding to what happens in our lives. When we reflect on our life, exploring our inner world, we begin to understand the steps and patterns, the dynamic, that has led us to where we are; and realise that at every step a decision was made and that consequently resulted in the following step. That decision could have been an action, a thought, a feeling, or simply an urge within our physical body.

Understanding Leads to Wisdom

When you understand what has happened in the past and why, you have understood the personal mechanics of what has led you there. You have understood what you need to do in order not to repeat the past, rather to create an alternative way forward. In effect, you have become wiser.

With understanding comes wisdom. With wisdom, our consciousness and how we view our lives evolve. And as we evolve, we are more in command though not in control of our lives. Reading books, attending development courses, or getting psychic readings will only work if your mind is flexible enough to accept and understand new concepts and truths about yourself.

The Journey from Inner Critic to Personal Hero

Understanding helps us detect behavioural patterns and gives us clarity of vision and the courage to admit to ourselves that there is a non-productive loop of behaviour or pattern – causing a rut. We are then able to assimilate this newly acquired knowledge and put it into action at every level of our daily living so that it influences our lives. Our life’s journey becomes that of a personal hero.

© Sahar Huneidi-Palmer (the above article is an extract from my upcoming self-help book)

About Sahar Huneidi-Palmer
Author, Columnist, Holistic Therapist & Personal Mentor; helping my clients achieve the life they are meant to live since 1992. I am passionate about demystifying the abstract, podcasting & and love Turkish coffee!

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