Very often, almost every day, we find ourselves in situations where we feel something is right or wrong in an instant. Perhaps you’ve seen a friend be treated unfairly and you feel the situation is completely unjust or maybe you’ve been asked to complete a project at work and you immediately know the best course of action.

In some ways, we all feel that we just know something to be true despite not having all the facts about the situation. This feeling of truth of knowing the right way to do something is based on beliefs. Your beliefs are your trust or confidence in someone or something. They have an acceptance that something is true. Your beliefs are so strong, they’ll often cause you to react to situations fast, like a reflex.

What’s surprising is that we don’t always know how to identify our beliefs and we don’t always take the time to dig below the surface and find out what’s going on. Why is it so important we understand our beliefs? Because the first step in building your self-awareness is understanding and identifying beliefs enhancing your self-awareness will enable you to make accurate self-assessments, manage your emotions and understand how you come across to others while building your self-confidence.

Your beliefs will impact how you behave and interact with others. Your beliefs also effect your emotions. If you believe something to be true or wrong, that will cause an emotional response for you. If you want to build your self-awareness, you need to make an effort to identify and understand the strong beliefs that you have.

You can do this by reflecting and using one powerful. I’d like you to think of a time when you’ve had a negative experience lately. Can you tell me what was the activating event, the situation that you found yourself in that led to you reacting negatively? Write down as much as you can about the event but try to be objective with no emotional attachment to the scenario or people involved.

At this stage, don’t delve into how you feel about the event or how you reacted. Next, identify your beliefs. What did you believe to be true about the situation? Your belief may be that the other person’s behavior is inconsiderate, dangerous and wrong. You may have even stronger beliefs and think the person driving the other car is an idiot or shouldn’t be allowed to drive a vehicle.

Finally, what were the consequences of your beliefs? What happened in the situation because of your beliefs? How did you behave? What was the impact of your behavior? Maybe you felt anger start to rise and you couldn’t stop thinking about the unjustness of the situation.

Perhaps you found yourself in a bad mood after the event snapping at colleagues or ranting about your experience which affected your productivity at work. This exercise has two purposes. First, you’ll go deep into identifying key beliefs. Second, you can clearly see the effect of your beliefs and not the activating event have on your behavior. It’s often not the event itself that causes us to react rather the beliefs we have about the situation. Complete this exercise reflecting on a positive event also as this will help you to identify positive and negative beliefs.

When you find yourself in challenging situations, take some time to complete this task after the event reflecting on your beliefs and the impact they had on the situation. This practice will help you to enhance your self-awareness over the long term.