Mindfulness is the practice of being completely aware of what’s happening in the moment, and doing so without judgment. When you pay attention on purpose and accept everything fully for what it is, you gain a sense of inner peace.
While setting up a daily mindfulness practice for a few minutes to observe something as ordinary as brushing your teeth or getting dressed in the morning can be great for mental wellness, turning your awareness inward to be mindful of your own feelings, behaviors, and reactions can be just as beneficial — if not more, because they’ll help you understand yourself better.
Here are three major things to start noticing about yourself as you go about your everyday life. Don’t try to change them — just observe and experience them as they happen.
Be Mindful of Resistance
Resistance can show itself in the form of thoughts, emotions, or even physical reactions. What makes resistance often so difficult to become aware of is that it can conflict with how we think we want to be, or what we think we want to bring into our lives.
For example, if someone at work gives you a promotion that you you’ve been wanting for a long time, unexpected thoughts of self-doubt may pop into your head. You may even feel afraid, or your heart rate may increase the more you start thinking about actually getting it. These are all signs of resistance, and though your mind might think it knows what’s best for you, resistance is a message from your deepest self asking you to feel or know something first.
Be Mindful of Your Desire for Control
Our minds are very good at tricking us into thinking we can control our lives and many of the things that occur in our external environment. In reality, though, we have absolutely no control over anything. We are merely just influencers.
Your desire to control something (or someone) may present itself as a tendency to overanalyze things, a desire to spend too much time planning ahead, a neurotic habit that requires taking governing action, or an emotion like frustration and anxiety. Notice how behaviors like these rely entirely on your intense craving for control and certainty.
Be Mindful of Inner Growth
Personal growth can be tricky, because sometimes we can mistake it for improving our external circumstances without changing anything within ourselves on an inner level. While a lean body, more money, a perfect relationship, and other easily observable milestones of success may be considered part of personal growth by many in the self help industry, real personal growth occurs on an inner level. It isn’t often seen by anybody else but the individual who’s actually grown, and it certainly isn’t reliant on changing their outer world circumstances.
Become mindful of some of the subtle or major ways your thought patterns, emotional reactions, and behaviors have changed over recent months or years rather than what you’ve achieved or haven’t achieve in the outside world. Noticing that you’re more grateful for what you have or that you feel more self-love are a couple of examples of genuine inner growth that don’t need to be validated by other people or objective measures of success.
Don’t worry about banishing resistance, letting go of control, or giving up on the changes you want to make in your external world. Just be mindful as often as you can when you find yourself becoming somewhat consumed by these things, and life will work out the rest.
Mindfulness reveals parts of our lives to us for what they truly are. When that penetrates us deeply enough, making the right changes become nearly effortless.