Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness has been identified as one of the meta-skills of the future. Meta-skills, as defined by Gustavo Razzetti, are the master skills that activate and magnify your other skills. They are “high-order skills that allow you to engage with functional expertise more effectively. They [are] catalyst[s] for learning and building new skills faster.”

So then, How Self-Aware are You?

Based on the research by many reputable psychologists, we are actually regrettably less self-aware than we’d like to think we are. In fact, our illusion of how self-aware we are, is a hindrance to becoming more self-aware (Eurich).

One of the examples of this illusion is the Dunning-Kruger Effect, whereby one’s limited knowledge of the matter causes them to overestimate their ability and competence in the matter. The reverse is also true: when someone excels at a task, they tend to undermine the complexity of the task and subsequently undermine their ability relative to the ‘average’.

For example: when one first starts learning a new language, their limited understanding of the verb tenses and conjugations may mislead them into thinking that the language is quite simple, subsequently overestimating their ability and the time it will actually take to master the language.

Self-awareness is the same. We often overestimate how much we actually know ourselves. It is mind-boggling to wrap our heads around it, isn’t it? If we don’t even know ourselves, then who does? The reality is, there is a substantial part of our subconscious that we are not privy to, particularly when it pertains to fear, guilt, and our social and biological need to belong. We sometimes arbitrarily justify and glorify the ‘why‘ behind our actions.

Here are some examples:

  • “I should better do some more work than going to the networking event,” Fear-of-Social-Gathering declares righteously.
  • “I’ll buy Charlie the Nintendo Switch she’s been asking for,” Guilt justifies after you have been working too much and not spending enough time with your child.

How Do We Get to Know Ourselves Better?

This is probably not a surprise but one of the most effective ways of getting to know ourselves better, is to humbly seek feedback from those who are closest to us. It is optimal to seek feedback from 3-5 stakeholders that have been supportive, honest, and transparent. To help us gain insight into our values, we can ask them questions such as:

  • “What are some of the principles I operate as the central point of my life?”
  • “What do you think I invest the most time and money in?”
  • “What are the top 3 adjectives you would use to describe me?”

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”

It takes tremendous courage, vulnerability, and humility to hear other people’s perception of your values and principles. I hope their perception is not too far from your internal awareness, and even if it is, I hope that you will have the wisdom to disarm your ego and hear them out.

Thank you for reading! This is only the tip of the iceberg for Self-Awareness. Next up: Self-Awareness Archetypes. Then finally, with enough Self-Awareness, we can talk about Episodic Future Thinking. Stay tuned!

Emotional Agility

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

—Susan David, “Emotional Agility

I find myself anthropomorphizing Life and Universe, a lot. I know it’s not unique to me but I do often catch myself saying or thinking: Life/Universe has a strange sense of humour.

Last week I wrote about Flexibility versus Rigidity in fitness and dietary routines. Simultaneously I was also processing and learning about our emotional intelligence (EQ). I chuckled in my head when I came across Susan David’s book “Emotional Agility” after I had written my post.

“‘Agility!’ It’s that word again! Universe has a strange sense of humour.” I thought to myself. “It must be guiding me through my lessons for this season.”
(I don’t actually think the Universe lines up lessons. The same way I am not sure if everything happens for a reason. I mean, if the Law of Action-Reaction and the natural order of consequences count as “reasons”, then yes. Otherwise, I am agnostic.)

Oops, I digressed. I am still working on keeping my writing tight. Back to Emotional Agility.

How does Emotional Agility differ from Emotional Intelligence?

Succinctly summarized by Andy Brett, Emotional Intelligence is: “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions.. [and] to shift negative patterns to more positive ones.”

Emotional Agility, on the other hand, is the ability to recognize your patterns, without necessarily changing them. It is about living in a way that allows you to align with your core values in life.

How Does One Become More Emotionally Agile?

There were quite a number of techniques that Susan David had outlined in her book, amongst them there were three that particularly stood out for me:

Continuity of Self

Continuity of Self is a term in psychology that refers to one’s connection to their past, present, and future self. You know that exercise in which you write letters to your younger self? That’s one of the common exercises you can do to strengthen your Continuity of Self.

This continuity is important in helping you examine what your core values are, how they were formulated, and how to best support and live in accordance to them. Not so surprisingly, this concept of aligning one’s behaviour to their core values is not a new one. In fact, it is similar to Viktor Frankl’s psychotherapeutic method—one that he had devised whilst trying to survive the Nazi concentration camp—to help his patients find purpose, and consequently: their meaning of life.

Emotional Granularity

Emotional Granularity is the ability to express feelings with a high degree of accuracy and precision. For example, instead of broadly categorizing your feeling as “stressed”, dissect this feeling into more detail. Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do? Are you feeling anxious about not being able to complete certain task? Once you can identify the granular details of your emotional state, you can better address it. While sometimes you may just need to hold that feeling, other times you may be able to come up with a plan to alleviate it.

Self-compassion

Extend yourself the compassion you would a beloved friend, family. Understand that going through that range of emotion is part of the human experience, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with not feeling rainbows and sunshines all the time. In fact, are there anyone who only feels rainbows and sunshines?

Self-compassion also means not caving into Toxic Positivity.

  • 🚫”Positive Vibes Only!”
  • 🚫”Don’t worry, be happy!”

Toxic Positivity invalidates and negates the gravity and weight of emotions and our experience. It creates this unhealthy illusion that it is possible to have one’s life together, all the time; along with the implication that: if others have their lives together but you don’t, there must be something wrong with you.

NO. No, No, No, No, NO!
No one’s life is perfect, not even remotely close. Allow yourself to experience your emotions, hold them. Avoid minimizing and hiding them away. Bravery is holding gaze with your fear and discomfort, recognizing that life can be hard, but you soldier on anyway.

Because after all, growth happens outside of your comfort zone!

For the record, just like all the other topics I write about, I definitely do not have life all figured out. I will be the first to admit that there are still so much work to do, so much room for improvement. However, what I have figured out and committed to, is that I will tirelessly learn and grow, even if it takes a few million iterations. It all started with Andie 1.0, then Andie 2.0, and maybe one day I’ll get to Andie 5,172,321.0.

Thank you for reading! I hope it has offered you a modicum of insight.❤️

A little background about Susan and where Emotional Agility has been integrated.

3 Tips on Rewiring Your Neuroplastic Brain to Be Happier

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts

Marcus Aurelius

Our experiences that inform our perception of reality and our behaviour are built upon both explicit and implicit memories. Explicit memory, are the ones we can actively recall; whereas implicit memory, are much less articulable. They are our expectations, modes of relationships, emotional proclivities, and outlooks on life. Interestingly, many studies have shown that what shapes our perception of the world, are predominantly unconscious. In other words, in order to effectively and meaningfully rewire our brain for a more positive, optimistic, happier outlook, we need to consciously work on our subconscious.

1. Understand the Negativity Bias of Your Memory

In order to work on your subconscious, it is important to understand this: our memory has an innate, biological preference to not only hold onto, but also intensify, negative memory. Evolutionarily, this bias has been instrumental in keeping us safe, by preventing us from repeating the same mistakes, from traversing back into dangerous, hopeless territory.

The sheer act of recognizing and identifying how your memory gravitates and magnifies negative experiences will allow you to take a deep breathe when you are faced with a less pleasant experience, and to mindfully interrupt the pattern of intuitively cataloguing the negative aspects of this experience as the dominant, default baseline reaction for the future.

2. Actively Seek Out Good News

Besides Negativity Bias, we are also susceptible to two other biases: perceptual bias and response bias. Both of these biases happen when we are motivated to shape our perception to better suit our intents and purposes. To favourably utilize these biases in rewiring your brain, you can actively seek out good news; this will motivate and prime your perceptual and response biases to perceive and translate the received neurological signals positively.

3. Bask Yourself in Good News

Now that you have carefully curated and fostered more positive experiences, the final step is to securely fasten them onto your implicit memory, to your subconscious, so they become the intuitive, default physiological and psychological response for the future.

Since your implicit memory is derived from your emotions and bodily sensations, the key to fortifying and securing your positive experiences to fully immerse yourself in the visceral responses of them.

And there you have it—3 simple steps to a happier life!

Isn’t it humbling and mind-blowing to think that: every time we consciously work on our subconscious, we are literally, synapse by synapse, rewiring our brain?

Relish in moments like these🤍