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The Power of Knowing Yourself: How Self-Awareness Benefits Both Kids and Adults

Written by Erica Douglas, Guest Blogger

"From what I learned, being able to name that emotion and practice emotional regulation is a huge step in self-awareness. You just need a roadmap.” ~ Erica Douglas

I signed up to take the online, self-paced continuing education course, Developing a Relationship with Yourself for 1 credit as part of my teacher renewal. This course appealed to me because I enjoy learning in the personal growth and development space. Also, as a track coach of almost 200 high school boys and girls, the need for these skills is imperative for success.

I thought a lot about my team as I completed this course. I saw multiple ways in which I can utilize the new Know. Choose. Give (KCG) learning framework into our team practices and meetings and in my own life too.

For example, I’m hosting a coaching conference in the beginning of November. I have felt very overwhelmed by the amount of tasks that need to be accomplished. I noticed that I was spiraling into a pattern of "shoulding myself", or self-shame for not doing things sooner and not having better strategies and skills than I did a year ago.

While I feel as though I am a person who is both generally self-reflective and self- aware, this course was good for me. It’s amazing how specific, open-ended questions can really help me (and I’m assuming most humans) take our abstract and sometimes overpowering thoughts and emotions and turn them into concrete sentences.

Each day throughout the course, I reflected on a journaling prompt and pulled an affirmation card from the Affirmations deck. I found that going through these journal prompts and daily affirmations really helped me put words to my overwhelm and get out of my head. It was helpful to remember to take a breath take things one step at a time.

A favorite question that came up was “what are my choices?” Well, one choice was to throw in the towel and give up on the conference. I knew I didn't like that alternative one bit! So what are my other choices? I could just go little by little, one step at a time.

I also loved the daily check-in practice using the emotions and physical feelings charts.

I personally loved how these charts categorized emotions and feelings with a color gradient. For example, feelings that fall underneath the 'sadness' section are blue. More intense sad emotions, such as numbness, are a deeper blue color while less intense sad emotions like disappointment are a lighter blue.

It helped ease a lot of anxiety when I could find the right word for what I was feeling. It was through this process that I thought, 'this is exactly what my athletes need'. I can't tell you the lightbulb moments kids had just by asking themselves the single question, 'how am I feeling right now?'

I learned that getting kids to identify and understand how they are feeling internally can have major impact on their ability to make positive choices.

Often, emotion is too abstract for kids and they have zero skills to cope with it. From what I learned, being able to name that emotion and practice emotional regulation is a huge step in self-awareness. Kids just need a roadmap.

By becoming aware of how their feelings influence their actions, they are able to react in a more helpful way.

For example, as a track coach, I often hear:

  • “I’m nervous.”

  • “My stomach hurts.”

  • “I don’t want to run.”

  • “I’m having anxiety."

One artifact I created was that idea of the scale of emotions and feelings. The athlete may say they are “nervous,” but are they just fidgety with excitement before the race or are they having a panic attack?

I expounded upon the idea of emotional regulation. So when I feel nervous, what does that really feel like? What does nervousness look like? What am I doing when I’m nervous? What has helped me to handle my nerves best?

Not only does this help the athlete know what works best for them, but it will be helpful for me as a coach to help guide them through their habits and patterns of thinking, feeling and relating with others.

Not all my kids handle nerves the same, so having them be able to explain what they need from me will be huge. I think we can use it with other emotions, not just nerves, such as frustration, or jealousy, or feeling unmotivated. I think a simple graphic organizer will help unlock a lot of learning and growth for our team.

One I’d like to spend more time hashing out, maybe with our athletic trainers, is “It hurts.” The threshold for pain is highly varied amongst teenage athletes. Often they are asked to give a scale from 1-10 on pain, but I’ve never found that reliable. Someone’s 8 is someone else’s 3. But words are powerful. Is it achy? Or are

you having shooting pains? I think that is a more beneficial diagnosis for the athlete and am interested in working with this idea more.

I am confident that these mindfulness practices will help my athletes gain more confidence in their approach to competition, but more importantly, help them to increase their own self-awareness, self-regulation and self-esteem.

The second artifact I created is inspired by the Give portion of K-C-G. As a coach, I purchase journals for my athletes each year. Throughout the season, we visit the journals. I’ll ask questions, we’ll have guest speakers, and I’ll have them write goals.

Some kids are really good at this. Give them a pen or marker, and boom, their pages are full. Other kids just kind of sit there. They don’t have a practice of self-

reflection. They don’t have a habit or even see a purpose in the writing of any of it.

But I have personally seen how doing the inner work has served as a powerful tool to build resilience but also courage and strength - something I think we can all use a little bit more of in our lives!

Thanks for reading!


Exciting Opportunity: Get Relicensure, Graduate or Professional Development Credit

Are you looking for continuing education, grad credit or personal development certification credit? It's easy – just follow the link below to purchase either Continuing Education Credit or Graduate Credit. For more information on these credit options or other continuing education or graduate credit courses, please contact our Continuing Education, Jenna Bell, at



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