Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness
Whether your life is motoring along beautifully or you feel like you’re hitting one pothole after another with constant grief and hardship, there are things you can do to have a better life. One of the things I think we’re seeing more and more are moving away from a desire for material riches, and a desire for freedom (emotional and physical.) And instead of seeing things, we are seeking feelings. We want to get away from pain and hurt, guilt and sadness, and want to experience more fulfillment, love, and happiness.
Even I read that paragraph and thought “Mandie when did you become a flower in the hair kind of girl?” However, the fact is we do seem to be craving different things to what I’ve seen people come to me for coaching for in the past. And one of the most important things we are learning from this shift is that no matter how fun or fear packed your life, no matter how much you hate and loathe or enjoy and love your life right now, there are things you can do to make it better. Right now, at this very moment. Not with more money, a bigger house, a newer car, or a smaller or larger body, not with your boss’s job or a house on a beach; today, at this very minute you could create a better life.
I speak from experience here. In the first half of 2017, I attended three funerals of people far too young. Three members of my family had serious health scares. My hard drive blew up, so did our boiler. (On the coldest week of the year!) It felt like the electric goods around the house were conspiring against us, both of our cars were hit while we weren’t even in them within in two weeks. And my beautiful Springer Spaniel fell ill suddenly and I had to have him put down when my Husband was on the other side of the world. And that is just some of the stuff that happened in the first half of this year. It was hard to not feel victimized, and like there was some evil deity reigning down a torrent of hell on the Holgate family. And having suffered from severe depression that nearly killed me 13 years ago, I will be honest and say I feared for my mental health.
Despite the feeling of “is this really all happening to us?” that aimed to raise its ugly head, I managed to stay happy. It becomes the Holgate mantra that the harder times got, the happier we felt. How is that possible and why does it matter?
You see no matter what happens on the outside, we can choose what we think and feel on the inside and when we appreciate the power of this self-awareness we can dramatically change not just our day, but our futures too.
Now it gets interesting, right?
Have you ever heard the saying “Who got out of bed on the wrong side?” That person moves through their day feeling miserable, frustrated and struggles to hold compelling conversations or get the results they want to. Did it start with these bad results? No of course not, it started with the thought that created the actions that delivered the results.
Being able to be self-aware is a powerful way to power up your happiness, actions, and success. It enables you to be in touch with who you truly are.
My own experience taught me that I have a very blessed life (despite the three autoimmune diseases and losing my dear pet.) It reinforced for me that I’m on the right path, going for the right goals for the right reasons. Many people find that despite achieving success in the traditional ways, they still lack happiness and it is highly likely it could come down to not being self-aware of what matters to you.
5 Powerful Steps to Build Self-Awareness
Here I share my 5 top tips to self-awareness and how this power could help you achieve more personally, professionally and emotionally.
1. Drop the Victim Act
This has been so powerful for so many that I’ve worked with (including myself). Have you noticed how around some people, you are confident and capable, and around others you feel like a child? Or maybe you lose your power? Be aware of how you feel around different people. It is not your job to change people, it is your responsibility to change the way you perceive people and handle them. This is an internal exercise. Maybe you were bullied at school and you still question if people are your friends and this impacts on your choice of activities and level of trust. Maybe you had an overly critical parent or teacher and still find yourself berating things that you do. Become aware of these beliefs that you may have stored for decades. You don’t have to challenge them if that feels too big a step. Just notice them at this stage.
2. Respect, Accept and Appreciate Who You Are
I remember up until only about seven years ago that someone I love dearly would say “You are so oversensitive Mandie!” and for years I saw that as a negative. I actually learned that I was not respecting who Mandie was. How can you achieve the things in life that make you happy, including just pure love for you that leads to internal genuine happiness if you don’t respect who you are? It may sound like a girlie fluffy subject, however by not respecting yourself and understanding your own emotional intelligence, you can seriously damage your chances of achieving. I learned for instance that what I’d seen as oversensitivity was, in fact, one of the reasons that I find coaching so easy and powerful—I can truly connect on a level that most people miss.
3. Learn What You Truly Value
If you learn to respect, accept and appreciate who you are, you can still find that you have an emotional negative attachment to elements of who you are. By learning to hear and listen to your values, you can become more self-aware and go for things that really matter to you.
In my book Fight the fear – how to beat your negative mindset and win in life, I recommend the values exercise. It enables you to explore on a subconscious level to learn what really matters to you. This is great for when you fear that you are concentrating on the wrong things in life—often being impacted on by the outside world, rather than hearing and knowing your own values.
4. Reframe Your Negative Thoughts
So after you’ve learned to accept who you are, you can still find that negativity is impacting on your ability to become self-aware. If you have feelings of low value and self-worth, it’s hard to want to listen to more of your thoughts. Re-framing your thoughts can help.
Listen carefully to your negative thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Don’t try and change them, just acknowledge them. What comes next? Is it a physical thing, an emotion or a belief? By following the flow of this, you can create a negative spiral of what happens to you when you are not self-aware. The awesome thing is I’ve used this process with so many clients to shift them fast into a positive spiral. Here is an example of how many of us struggle to accept compliments.
5. Ditch the Shallow Self-Development
With a growing appreciation around the world that our minds impact on our success, alas there are some that are exploring this subject on a very superficial level. While any level is better than nothing, you need to do your homework if you really want to be self-aware. Expecting results by osmosis or by reading motivational posters is not enough. Aristotle, Einstein and so many others have indeed said powerful things about our minds and our ability to achieve true happiness, creativity, and success. However, remember that at their core they were people of action too.
By always assessing your self-awareness, you can learn to not just respect who you are but to trust this true version of you. And that could be incredibly powerful on so many levels.