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Emotional Maturity Part II: Self-awareness, Self-regulation, and Empathy

Welcome back to Consider Yourself Hugged! Click here to listen to Episode 155. OR click YouTube below to watch! (***Disclaimer: We provide these notes as a skeleton for the show - nothing fancy 😄)

Welcome back, friends! Happy Day before Valentine’s Day! I hope February has been great for you.


Last week, we set the stage for our journey towards emotional maturity. We discussed the importance of this quest, not just in the context of Valentine's Day but as a framework for our daily interactions and personal growth. If you haven't yet, I encourage you to listen to the last episode, link in show notes, and download the self-assessment tool from the show notes to help you gauge where you're at on this path.


I’ve been thinking more about this and why it’s important to me, and I realize it’s because for most of my entire life I was the OPPOSITE of emotional maturity. In light of our 10 hallmarks, here's my previous life:


1. I had zero Self-Awareness

2. I probably had -10 Self-Regulation

3. Empathy? I could barely understand myself much less others

4. Responsibility – nope. I always blamed others and circumstances

5. Adaptability – any change put me into a tailspin

6. Resilience – that wasn’t even a thing when I was younger

7. Effective Communication – well if you consider passive-aggressive effective, then yes 😊

8. Conflict Resolution – What’s that?!

9. Realistic Optimism – I was more a fan of realistic negativity!

10. Healthy Relationships – I don’t think ANY of them were healthy


But I learned and grew and you can too!


Today, we're diving deep into the first three hallmarks of emotional maturity. So, grab your notebook, or coffee or just settle in as we explore these transformative qualities together.


A.     Self-Awareness. It's all about the person in the mirror, right? Last week, I hinted at how crucial self-awareness is—it's the foundation of emotional maturity. But what does it really mean to be self-aware?


Self-awareness is a cornerstone of emotional maturity. It's the deep knowledge of your personal strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. It's understanding your needs and desires, recognizing your emotional triggers, and realizing how your emotions and actions align—or sometimes don't—with your values. To cultivate self-awareness, one must engage in regular self-reflection, seeking feedback, and observing the nuances of our responses to different situations. It's about asking ourselves tough questions: Why did I react that way? What does this emotion tell me about my needs? By understanding ourselves, we can make more informed decisions, both in our personal and professional lives.


To build your self-awareness:


1. Journaling: Writing about your daily experiences and the emotions associated with them can help you reflect and gain insights into your behavior and reactions.


2. Mindfulness Practices: Engage in mindfulness techniques such as meditation or focused breathing to become more aware of your present moment experience, including your thoughts and feelings.


3. Personality Tests: Take personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Enneagram to get a framework for understanding your tendencies, preferences, and patterns of behavior.


4. Solicit Feedback: Ask for honest feedback from people you trust. Sometimes others can see aspects of ourselves that we are blind to.


5. Set Aside Time for Self-Reflection: Dedicate time regularly to reflect on your actions, decisions, and experiences. Consider the 'why' behind your daily life choices.


6. Explore Your Passions: Notice when you lose track of time, or what activities you are drawn to. These can be indicators of your passions and values.


7. Create a Life Timeline: Chart out the significant events in your life and reflect on how they’ve shaped you. Understanding your past can illuminate patterns influencing your present.


8. Practice Saying "No": Pay attention to your limits and learn to say no to things that don't align with your values or that compromise your well-being. This helps clarify what truly matters to you.


9. Emotional Intelligence Development: Learn about emotional intelligence and work on recognizing and understanding your emotions as well as those of others.


10. Mindful Listening: When interacting with others, practice mindful listening to understand their perspective. This can often reflect back and clarify your own thoughts and beliefs.


By actively engaging in these strategies, you can enhance your self-awareness, which is key to understanding yourself better, making conscious choices, and navigating your path through life with greater clarity and confidence.



B. And with self-awareness comes Self-Regulation. Think of it like this: emotions are like ocean waves. They can be calm, or they can crash wildly. Self-regulation is about surfing these waves, not controlling the ocean – watch this:  (Click here to watch episode with Riley video).


Self-regulation refers to managing your emotions and impulses. Instead of reacting to feelings in the moment, self-regulation involves taking a step back to gain perspective, considering the consequences of actions before engaging in them. It's about finding strategies to calm down when angry, to cheer up when sad, or to stay focused amidst distractions. Techniques for self-regulation can include mindfulness practices, cognitive restructuring, and developing problem-solving skills. It's also about setting and working toward personal goals, which requires discipline, a sense of motivation, and the ability to delay gratification.


To build your self-regulations skills:

Building self-regulation skills is essential for emotional well-being and effective functioning in daily life. Here are ten strategies to help enhance your self-regulation abilities:


1. Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness meditation to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, & bodily sensations. This increased awareness can help you recognize when you need to employ self-regulation strategies.


2. Deep Breathing Techniques: Learn and practice deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, to help calm the nervous system and reduce the intensity of emotional responses.


3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Use progressive muscle relaxation to systematically tense and then relax different muscle groups. This technique can reduce stress and help you gain more control over your physical state when emotions run high.


4. Cognitive Reframing: Develop the habit of cognitive reframing, which involves identifying and challenging negative or unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more positive or realistic ones.


5. Set Clear Goals: Establish clear, achievable goals for yourself. Break them down into smaller steps, and monitor your progress. Goal setting can help focus your efforts and reduce impulsive behavior.


6. Delayed Gratification Practice: Strengthen your ability to delay gratification through exercises like the "Marshmallow Test," where you practice waiting for a better reward instead of opting for immediate satisfaction.


7. Emotional Awareness: Keep an emotion diary to track your feelings throughout the day. Recognizing patterns can help you anticipate and prepare for situations that require self-regulation.


8. Problem-Solving Skills: Improve your problem-solving skills by approaching challenges with a structured approach: define the problem, generate potential solutions, evaluate these solutions, and then implement the best one.


9. Develop Healthy Habits: Create and maintain a routine that includes regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a balanced diet. Physical well-being significantly impacts your ability to regulate emotions.


10. Seek Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from trusted friends, family, or colleagues on your behavior and emotional responses. Outside perspectives can provide insights into areas where you may need to improve your self-regulation.


By integrating these strategies into your daily life, you can improve your self-regulation skills, which can lead to better emotional control, decision-making, and overall psychological health.


So, we’ve become aware of our own thoughts, beliefs, triggers, etc. We’ve learned skills to regulate our emotions and impulses.


C. Let’s move on to Empathy, the emotional bridge that connects us to others. It's the ability to

tune into someone else's frequency, to truly understand their joy, their pain, without an agenda.


It's more than just recognizing someone else's emotions; it's about truly feeling with them. This emotional skill is vital for building and maintaining strong personal and professional relationships. Empathy involves listening actively, withholding judgment, and communicating understanding back to the person. It’s not just about providing solutions; often, it's about being present and supportive. Developing empathy can lead to more compassionate actions and improve our interactions with those around us. It helps us to break down barriers and to see the world from multiple perspectives.


To build empathy:

Building empathy is a proactive process that requires intention and practice. Here are several methods to enhance your empathic abilities:


1.     Active Listening: Pay close attention to what others are saying without formulating your response while they are speaking. Focus on understanding their perspective and feelings.


2.     Vulnerability: Share your own emotions and experiences with others. This can build trust and make it easier for others to share with you, fostering a deeper mutual understanding.


3.     Curiosity: Approach conversations with a sense of curiosity. Ask open-ended questions that encourage others to express themselves more deeply.


4.     Body Language Awareness: Pay attention to non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice. A lot of communication is non-verbal, and being attuned to these signals can deepen your understanding of others' emotions.


5.     Perspective-Taking: Imagine yourself in someone else’s situation, trying to experience what they might be feeling. This mental practice can help you to relate to others more directly.


6.     Emotional Literacy: Improve your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others. The more nuanced your understanding of emotions, the better you can empathize.


7.     Read Fiction: Engaging with stories about different lives and experiences can help you understand a broader range of perspectives and emotions.


8.     Mindfulness and Self-Reflection: Practice being present and mindful. Reflect on your interactions with others to understand how they may feel and why.


9.     Challenging Prejudices and Stereotypes: Be aware of and challenge your biases. This can open you up to truly hear and empathize with others without preconceived notions clouding your judgment.


10.  Seek Diverse Relationships: Build relationships with people from different backgrounds and life experiences. This exposure can broaden your understanding and appreciation of the vast array of human experiences and viewpoints.


11.  Practice Compassion: Engage in compassionate actions. When you act in a way that contributes to the well-being of others, it can naturally enhance your ability to empathize with them.


12.  Empathy Training Programs: Participate in structured empathy training. Such programs can provide tools and exercises designed to boost your empathetic skills.


By integrating these practices into your daily life, you can enhance your ability to understand and share the feelings of others, which is essential for building strong, empathetic relationships.


Promised Links

Tip Sheets

CYH Self-Awareness Tip Sheet
Download PDF • 226KB

CYH Self-Regulation Tip Sheet
Download PDF • 226KB

CYH Empathy Tip Sheet
Download PDF • 224KB


The information in this show is not intended to be therapy or to address your individual situation. It is information based on my experiences, opinions, and research. If you need further help, please reach out to one of the resources here:

Mental Health Resources: National Alliance of Mental Illness

Thanks for joining today! As we’ve always asked in the past, please pass the show link along to your friends and subscribe, download, and review wherever you are listening. If you’re a woman and you haven’t joined our private FB group A Place for Women, please do that now! It’ll be your source of encouragement. I'd love for you to follow my Tami West Seminars Facebook page as well. And until next time, Consider Yourself Hugged 😘🤗

Tami West, PhD

Stress and Mental Health Expert Dr. Tami West uses her entertaining and compelling style to shine a new light on how to transform your life and discover solutions to life’s challenges.

Tami has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, school nutrition, corporate sales, and 10 years as a public-school teacher. In 2013 she received her PhD in Human Development, studying the connections among stress, emotions, and identity.

Dr. West has spoken in 48 states across the US, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In any given year, Tami speaks to groups with audiences consisting of anywhere from 100 to 3,000 people.

Dr. West is the author of several successful publications including three books: The Stress Club, Life Without the Monsters and Thrive. When she's not speaking or writing, you might find her with her traveling with her husband and family, reading historical fiction, or watching Big Bang Theory.

Tami connects with audiences through real experience, cutting edge research, and transparent stories – all sprinkled with humor! She will make you laugh, cry, and shine a refreshingly new light on life's challenges.

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Michelle Kixmiller, MSN, MAE, RN, APN, PMHNP-BC Michelle Kixmiller is a Board Certified

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Licensed Educator. She works with children and adults with mental health needs including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Michelle served as a public school teacher and science department chair for over a decade when a family tragedy pulled her in a different direction. The death of her younger brother after a multiple year battle with depression and alcoholism led her to pursue a career in the mental health field. She went back to school to become a registered nurse graduating and gaining experience as a critical care nurse at a level 1 regional burn center prior to completing a graduate degree to become a mental health nurse practitioner. Her vision is holistic care through teamwork to create a more peaceful school environment for students and staff alike. No one should have to struggle alone. Michelle currently works full time for a non-profit community mental health center at an outpatient clinic and works PRN for an inpatient crisis stabilization unit. When not at work she loves spending time with family, traveling, watching movies (not scary ones), running (slowly), and Crossfit. Contact Michelle at Silver Lining Psychiatric Solutions, 615-378-7713 or

Grace Lichtenstein, MS

I am an award-winning international speaker/trainer, psychotherapist, coach, consultant, and a huge fan of all things nap-related. For over 25 years, I have been working with individuals and corporate teams to improve their health, become more productive, and reduce their stress. Through my training in both Western and Eastern wellness philosophies (including a BA in Psychology, an MS in Counseling Psychology, and certifications in addiction treatment), I truly have a comprehensive view of "what works". In addition, my diverse experience working with thousands of people in all 50 states and in 25 other countries (ranging from native New Yorkers to Native Alaskans and from the FBI to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), has allowed me to pinpoint some of the universal characteristics of successful individuals and teams.

Through my signature online, on-demand coaching program or with one of my live training or speaking sessions, I provide the tools to help almost every individual and team reach their true potential: healthier, more productive, and less stressed.

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