Anaïs Nin once said, “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.” In other words, we are unique observers of the world based on our experiences, our cultures, and our emotions. We see things based on our perspective, but sometimes we don’t realize we are missing important pieces to our worldview.
The field of ontological coaching identifies three key elements that shape how we see the world. If we can understand these, we can begin to understand ourselves and our perspectives:
The words used around us as we grow up deeply shape who we become and how we see the world. Words we hear from our teachers, parents, and friends have a deep impact on our perspective.
Our moods can vastly change our actions and our perspectives. Think of a time you felt resentment towards someone. How easy was it to be around them? How well could you collaborate with them? Moods have the power to change our view of the world and of others before a single word is uttered.
Our bodies remember every experience we have. They remember every trauma and sensation. This can affect how we hold ourselves, and how our thoughts are formed.
Next time you face an obstacle, step back and notice how one or all of these three elements might be narrowing our perspective. That’s where self-awareness comes in. When we are aware of how we are making sense of the world, and what we might be missing, we are able to fill the picture by adding new perspectives to it.
We strengthen our self-awareness by being curious first, in any situation, especially stressful ones. When you bring curiosity to a situation, it gives you a moment to step back and look at the situation from a more neutral perspective.
A good practice that grows our self-awareness is a journaling exercise. Try this over the next week and see if it helps you understand yourself more:
- What core beliefs do I have about myself? What core beliefs do I have about the world?
After you’ve written them down, reflect and ask yourself:
- Where did I learn that?
- Who did I learn that from?
- Are these truly universal or are they just my beliefs?
- What are three to five life experiences that shaped me into who I am today? (these can be positive or negative)
Reflect on these situations and ask yourself:
- How did my foundational being change as a result of that experience?
- What was I before the experience, and what was I after?
- What mood do I usually wake up in?
Reflect on how your mood affects yourself:
- What is the effect of this mood on my energy levels?
- How does this mood affect my thoughts?
- How does this mood affect my productivity?
These exercises will help you increase your self-awareness and become a better observer of yourself.