Harnessing the Power of Self-Awareness for Growth, Not Self-Criticism

body confidence for leaders body image embodiment goals inner critic podcast simple tools starter guide May 30, 2023

Harnessing the Power of Self-Awareness for Growth, Not Self-Criticism


In this episode, we explore self-awareness as a pillar of body confidence for women leaders. As someone who has personally experienced the incredible benefits of self-awareness, I'm excited to share my insights, practical tools, and concrete examples to help you on your journey towards embracing your inner strength.


In this episode, you'll discover:

  •  The power of self-awareness for women leaders
  •  Tips and tools for increasing self-awareness
  •  How to use self-awareness for growth, not self-criticism


Listen to the full episode HERE






Welcome to SELF-Guided season two, episode 7 “Harnessing the Power of Self-Awareness for Growth, Not Self-Criticism”. In this episode, we are exploring self-awareness as a pillar of body confidence for all women leaders because it is one of the most useful tools we have. What we’re also doing is making sure to not use this tool against ourselves as I have done myself and as I have seen so many coaches do. As someone who has personally experienced the incredible benefits of self-awareness, I'm excited to share my insights, practical tools, and concrete examples to help you on your journey towards embracing your inner strength.



What is Self-Awareness?


So, what exactly is self-awareness? It means understanding your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and it's essential for overcoming negative thoughts about your body and reaching your full potential. But self-awareness can be a double-edged sword - while it's crucial for personal growth and leadership, it can also lead to self-criticism and self-doubt if not managed properly. That's why it's so important to learn how to use self-awareness as a tool for growth, not as a weapon against yourself.



The Power of Self-Awareness for Women Leaders


For women leaders, self-awareness is a game-changer. It helps us overcome body image concerns, allowing us to confidently step into our roles as coaches, business owners, public speakers, authors, and more.


When we're self-aware, we can identify the reasons behind our body image concerns and work to overcome them. This enables us to embrace our unique gifts and talents, ready to make a positive impact on the world.


Understanding the Reasons Behind Body Image Concerns


Self-awareness shows you where you are now in your current thinking about your body. It’s not where you will be indefinitely so no need to worry about that. What you do need to know is the starting point so you can work through what’s actually holding you back which is going to be different for every single person. 


As a woman leader, recognizing your unique starting point is crucial to overcoming the obstacles holding you back. Take a moment to reflect on the reasons behind your body image concerns. Are they rooted in past experiences, societal pressures, or internalized beliefs? Understanding the root causes will help you create a plan to move forward.




Overcoming Negative Beliefs and Habits


It’s the same self-awareness that allows you to identify and challenge the negative beliefs you uncover about your body that hold you back. Only then can you replace those beliefs with thoughts that boost your self-esteem and motivation.


There are so many different methods for overcoming beliefs that are holding you back but in the end, questioning them, dismantling them and finding your own truth - not what so and so said was correct about bodies - is what will help you to replace those beliefs that are holding you back with solid beliefs that empower you to be authentically you in the body you are in. This newfound body confidence will empower you to self-promote, speak in public, and build a strong online presence - all essential elements for success in today's world.


Learning from Past Successes


Here’s the interesting thing here, self-awareness also shows you what types of strategies have worked for you in the past when you navigated similar limiting beliefs (thoughts that hold you back). What worked there can work here, if you’re aware of what worked, that’s also part of self-awareness. Think back to a time when you successfully overcame a challenge or achieved a goal. What strategies did you use? How can you apply those same strategies to your current situation?


By learning from our past successes, we can develop a roadmap for overcoming our body image concerns and stepping into our power as women leaders.




Boosting Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Emotional Strength


Practicing self-awareness also helps you develop empathy and emotional resilience. By understanding and navigating your emotions, you'll improve your ability to handle body image concerns and other challenges that may come your way. This emotional strength will lead to enhanced productivity, motivation, and ability to seize valuable opportunities for growth.


That same empathy and emotional resilience which you need for genuine connections is also what you need to overcome obstacles as you grow your capacity to be seen more and more. And then, understanding and learning to navigate emotions improves your ability to handle body image concerns, both yours and that of the people you are here to inspire.




Tips & Tools for Increasing Self-Awareness


To that end, I will not leave you hanging, here are some tools for you if you’re interested in increasing your self-awareness.


One powerful technique is journaling. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you can gain a clearer understanding of your emotions and identify patterns that may be contributing to your body image concerns. The key is to not judge the writing, allow it to flow.


You can also use mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga, can help you cultivate greater self-awareness by encouraging you to focus on the present moment and observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Notice again, the without judgement part, I can’t emphasize this enough.


Let me add a few somatic practices here as well because those are often really useful if you can’t quite get out of your head and your head is the part of you offering you self-critical thoughts.


Somatic techniques before we go on, and embodiment techniques all focus on the connection between the mind and the body, helping you become more attuned to your physical sensations and experience sometimes you’ll hear me refer to that as the felt experience. Which by the way, even if you aren’t tuned to it, it’s happening all of the time which is great because it’s always available to you to some degree. As usual, only do what speaks to you and stop at any time if necessary.


One powerful somatic technique is body scanning. This practice involves mentally scanning your body from head to toe, noting any areas of tension or discomfort. Part of the beauty of this technique is that it still uses the part of you that wants to be super active, your mind, but you’re giving it a task that helps to connect more with your body. 


By becoming aware of these sensations, you can learn to release tension and cultivate a deeper connection with your body. That deeper connection will help you to start seeing your body differently, you will start to notice other things about your body that will help to balance your view of your body.


What I’ve noticed with my coaching peers and clients after they learn about self-awareness and get their hands on some tools and start applying the techniques is that we can quickly turn the self-awareness and the tools against ourself.


Use Self-Awareness for Growth, Not Self-Criticism


So let's discuss how to use self-awareness as a tool for growth, not self-criticism. It's important to recognize and accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment. That can be hard because we’ve been told over and over that we are what we think, etc but what if that is sometimes not super helpful to believe. Your thoughts are not an indication of your merit, your worth, your values or your eventual success. In fact, most of our thoughts are recycled things we’ve heard or told ourselves. Not always useful. Those not useful thoughts still have an effect on you even if you just halfway believe them to be true so it’s important to know they’re there and what they are.


Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judgment


Remember that self-awareness is about understanding, not self-blame. One way to practice this is through mindfulness meditation, which helps you observe your thoughts without judgment.


Has this ever happened to you? You're preparing for a major presentation but can't shake the feeling that you're not good enough because of your body image concerns like you don’t look the part, or you know your stutter is going to rear its head. Yeah, it’s happened to me for sure.


In the past, I’d easily become aware of the thoughts, so I was self-aware, but the part that got me a lot during coach training was thinking I shouldn’t be having those thoughts because I knew better than to believe them, I had coached others through it, I really should be better by now. Ouch, did anyone else feel that one? That’s the part we want to mitigate if we can, the part where we are self-aware but then use the tools we know about mindset, about growth mindset, you know all the tools and use them against ourselves.


Without ignoring or avoiding the thoughts I noticed, one of the ways I was able to become someone who doesn’t use the coaching tools against myself was to focus on growth, not perfection. Let’s go a step further, when I started seeing the entire process as self-awareness as a practice and not an end goal, then I was able to do it more consistently and with better results.


Cultivate Growth, Not Perfection


Use self-awareness to pinpoint areas where you are holding yourself back, not to chase perfection. Celebrate your "imperfections" as opportunities for empowerment. Consider using a growth mindset journal to track your progress, making sure to acknowledge your uniqueness as well. 


Example: A woman leader who is hesitant to promote her services due to body image concerns might use a growth mindset journal to track her progress in overcoming these limitations and celebrate her achievements along the way.


Basically, use self-awareness to identify areas for improvement, as in identifying what’s not working and what is working for you AND commit to a continued practice of self-awareness, not an end goal of reaching self-awareness nirvana.


Practice Self-Compassion


Show yourself kindness and understanding when facing challenges or making mistakes. Remember that everyone, even the most successful leaders, has struggles. Use empowering affirmations to remind yourself of your worth and achievements, which can help diminish self-criticism and boost your self-esteem and leadership skills. 


Example: A woman leader who is struggling with body image issues might use affirmations like, "I am worthy of success and happiness in the body I have right now," to boost her self-esteem and confidence in her abilities.


Set Goals Aligned with Your Values


Use self-awareness to set goals that align with your values and strengths. Focus on what truly matters to you and your leadership journey. Create a personal mission statement to guide your goal-setting process, which can lead to greater motivation, productivity, and the ability to lead with confidence. 


Example: A woman leader who is passionate about empowering others to overcome body image concerns might set a goal to create and deliver a workshop on self-awareness and body positivity. She gets to not only help others but use this opportunity to see where she can continue to deepen her own commitment to body confidence.




It's time to liberate ourselves from self-criticism and embrace our growth and leadership journey. By harnessing the power of self-awareness, we can overcome body image concerns and step into our power as women leaders, ready to make a positive impact on the world. 


Thank you for joining me on today's episode. I hope you've found these insights helpful in harnessing the power of self-awareness for growth, not self-criticism. Remember, you are worthy and capable, and your unique gifts and talents are needed in this world. Until next time!

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