I have writer’s confession to make. Brace yourself, it’s a big one: I have never written in a journal.

Can you believe it?

If you’ve ever listened to an interview with a writer, you may have heard that it’s common for writers to have piles and piles of old journals tucked away somewhere safe, with thoughts and stories and observations waiting to be re-discovered. It’s a romantic notion, and I wish I did have some; I would love to look back and have a glimpse into my old life. But that was just never me. I never felt comfortable enough to write my feelings out. It seemed too risky — someone could have read them, and I wasn’t willing to be so completely exposed.

Instead of writing out what I was feeling, I held it in. I escaped through reading and dabbled only in a little fiction.

Then I hit my twenties and everything changed. Perhaps it was because childhood was behind me and I had grown a set of wings, but I finally felt as if I had a voice. It was as if I’d spent two decades observing the world around me and was able to translate all of that observation into language – verbal and written. And through this talking and writing about my feelings and experiences, a brilliant outcome surfaced: I became self-aware.

For the first time in my life, I was able to step outside of my incessant negative thought patterns and have a look at them with some objectivity. Maybe this what the journalers had known their entire lives, but it was news to me!

It hasn’t been easy, but for a decade, I have managed to hang on to that self-awareness and build on it. That doesn’t mean I don’t slip up and fall into negative thought patterns, or get caught up in emotion; it simply means that (eventually) I can pull myself out of it. The older I get, the more unhealthy patterns appear to surface, and I enjoy identifying them and working out a solution or at the very least, an understanding.

Tips to Improve Self-Awareness

Today I’m sharing three strategies to help you improve your self-awareness every day that I keep in my back pocket.

1. Check in with your body

I frequently check in with my body when I’m slipping into worry or fear in order to bring myself back into the present moment. My way of doing this is learned from Eckhart Tolle — I simply sit still with my hands resting palms facing up, and I focus my attention on my finger tips until they begin to tingle. If you meditate or do yoga, try some deep breaths to center yourself.

2. Pencil in creative time.

As much as I love spending many hours every day with my kids, there is a link between my level of stress and the number of minutes I’ve spent alone working on something creative. I’ve had to make adjustments throughout the years, but right now I set my alarm clock for a full 3 hours before my children wake up, and I have more than enough time to do something creative for myself.

3. Make personal growth a daily habit

Almost every day I’m listening to a podcast or audiobook that is either directly related to a struggle I am having or is a thoughtful contemplation. For many years, I’ve made my inner growth a priority which means that even when I don’t feel like hearing about how I can be a better person or improve my life, I force myself to pick something to listen to, read or watch.

Do you have any tips to share?