Psych Skill: Focus on Perceptual Inner Awareness.

Beth E Lee MBA MSc
3 min readMay 20, 2024

I know this may sound so obvious, but do you know which inner awareness to focus on? The psychological skill lies in identifying and focusing on your perceptual inner awareness versus your environmental inner awareness.

Perhaps you’re familiar with what’s called the body scan. That’s when you close your eyes and start at either your feet or your head, say the body part and then send your awareness to that body part. Many of you who do yoga or meditation will already know how to do this. It’s a fantastic way to relax. My daughter will do a body scan to help her get to sleep. This type of focal awareness, within your mind, is brilliant for calming yourself down when feelings get to be a bit too overwhelming or when you want to bring yourself into the moment. This is environmental inner awareness.

Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

The psychological skill of perceptual inner awareness is when you shift your focus or your attention to becoming aware of what you’re thinking and feeling in the present moment of what you are experiencing.

“Inner awareness…is that subcategory of consciousness wherein one undergoes direct apprehension of something…as it takes place literally in…experiences in the moment.”

- Natsoulas T. Inner awareness. In: Consciousness and Perceptual Experience: An Ecological and Phenomenological Approach. Cambridge University Press; 2013:365–405.

Here’s an example. I was having a conversation with some new friends the other day. The two of them joined the club together so they didn’t feel alone. I joined the club by myself and didn’t see anything wrong with starting something new on my own. As we were talking, I explained how I joined this club by myself and then quickly stopped my sentence there. I was about to say that everyone should do something on their own out of their comfort zone, but I immediately remembered that the two friends joined the club together. I stopped myself at that moment, becoming aware that my words may come across as sounding superior or may make them feel guilty for joining together, which is not my intention.

Now, I can’t read their minds, and perhaps they wouldn’t have thought either of those things, but by using my perceptual inner awareness in the moment I avoided what may be a hurtful comment. This is also called self-awareness. Self-awareness in action and intentional.

Successful Inner Awareness

We all have an inner awareness of our selves (internal self-awareness) and an outer awareness of how we behave in the world (external self-awareness).

External self-awareness is how you perceive yourself among others in the world, and internal self-awareness is how you identify your thoughts and feelings in relation to your actions. They are similar to environmental inner awareness and perceptual inner awareness; however, perceptual inner awareness is about bringing together the words, feelings, and thoughts of the people and environment around you to intentionally take action.

So, look, there is no way you can be aware of absolutely everything that’s happening in your brain or out in the world, but you can influence what you pay attention to or become aware of and, indeed, change it if need be.

Don’t worry if perceptual inner awareness seems difficult to tackle. Practice shifting your self-awareness to the present.

Do become aware of what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment of experiences, that skill will drive you to eventually make change.

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Beth E Lee MBA MSc

Psych skills and discussions to develop an intentional mind.