The better one knows themselves the greater the chance one will be able to maintain clear thinking when challenges arise.
This may involve some private soul-searching. Being familiar with one's past will make it more likely that one will maintain clear thinking and easily distinguish one’s feelings from those of others, particularly when one's feelings become provoked.
Everyone has common themes in their lives that can give rise to difficulties. We also have those that can give us an advantage when dealing with situations. Through self awareness we become aware of our triggers, triggers that cause us difficulties. With this knowledge sometimes it can be just enough to separate us from what is happening around us.
Psychoanalysis calls this ‘observing ego’ or ‘observing self’. My preferred term is simply ‘observer.’ I like this one as the observer is able to view and simultaneously evaluate both one’s external and internal reality. Developing the mental skill of being an observer in one's life in my opinion, is vital to emotional health.
Being able to attend to and reconcile our external and internal sensory information is called ‘dual awareness.’ It is an important ability to maintain when under stress. Without dual awareness clear thinking is not possible. This is a skill made possible by the effective functioning of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex and is facilitated by keeping the central nervous system arousal low. Let me put it this way, when all goes well your internal state is in sync with your awareness of your surroundings. A nice example of this is walking in your favourite place and you are picking up the light, warmth and bird sounds while also feeling very relaxed, breathing gently and evenly……. one’s exhale is the same length as one’s inhale.
Failure of dual awareness can sometimes result in us jumping to conclusions or misinterpreting what someone is saying; this can result in confusion and frustration.
As we are discussing self-care strategies I would suggest to you that it is also very important to have an interest that gives energy and focus, something that is a complete distraction from the challenges being faced.
Acknowledging our feelings is crucial to keeping us safe and reminding us to care for ourselves. Fatigue, burnout and trauma can result if one does not give time to acknowledge one's feelings. Don’t forget having body awareness is also a very important strategy. Our heart rate can increase, we can develop migraines and digestion problems.
In my opinion the more one gets accustomed to using dual awareness the more useful it will be during stressful times. Why not try this for the following week and let me know how you got along.
Good luck with it,