How do I prevent myself from repeating my mistakes?

The answer is simple in theory and quite difficult in implementation: mindfulness.

If you aren’t aware of your mistake, if you don’t even notice it, it’s hard to draw a conclusion, isn’t it?

Mindfulness sounds simple enough, but it’s difficult to practice.

We are created for habitual behaviors. They save our willpower, energy, and brainpower. We spend most of our lives in the autopilot mode.

Here are a few hacks for developing higher self-awareness:

1. Meditation

Habitual behavior is one thing, but habitual self-talk is even more hardcoded into our existence. We simply don’t notice this “other self” that talks with us in our head.

Meditation fix this blind spot. Close your eyes, focus on your breath and try to NOT think for a minute. I assure you that you will become aware of this “intruder” in your head in no time 😉

2. Journaling

Autopsy of what happened helps a lot. I journal every morning by asking myself prodding questions. Many times I asked myself about my past mistakes.

Committing your thoughts in writing brings clarity. You are no longer spinning your thoughts and emotions inside you.

And while brainstorming about your mistakes often great solutions come. When you only think about your shortcomings the automatic replies of your subconscious can dominate the discourse: “Because you are worthless! You screwed this once again! You are hopeless!” Such thoughts don’t bring you closer to a solution, they just keep you down.

The discourse on paper is usually more civil and constructive.

3. Tracking

This is a powerful hack. You use a habitual behavior (proper tracking is habitual) to make you aware of your other habitual behavior.

Whenever you focus your attention on some issue for a long time, you install new filters in your brain. Subconscious notices that this issue is important for you, hence it starts harvesting more data about it.

By keeping a food journal for several weeks I installed permanent filters in my brain. I can always tell what I consumed since dawn to dusk. I’m constantly aware of my consumption, thus it’s hard for me to indulge with wrong (sweeets!) foods.

Mindfulness is just a first step. I often came up with brilliant solutions to my mistakes during my journaling sessions but failed to apply them.

But it’s the most important step. Without awareness, you are totally helpless. You don’t notice your mistakes or shrug them off.

Mindfulness protects you from that.

This article first appeared on Medium.