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Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness

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 pot hole 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 is moving away from a desire for material riches, and a desire for freedom (emotional and physical.) And instead of seeking things, we are seeking feelings. We want to get away from pain and hurt, guilt and sadness, and want to experience more fulfilment, love and happiness.

Even I read that paragraph and thought “Mandie when did you become a flowers 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.

Really?

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.

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Despite the feeling of “is this really all happening to us?” that aimed to raise it’s ugly head, I managed to stay happy. It become 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.

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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 auto immune 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 over 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.

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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 over sensitive 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 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.

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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.

    Buy Mandie’s book Fight the Fear – How to beat your negative mindset and win in life on Amazon

    More by this author

    Mandie Holgate

    Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

    How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life) What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours 6 Types of Fear of Success and How to Overcome Them 20 Coping Skills for Stress That Will Help You Stay Strong How to Stop Living in Fear and Start Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    How to Make Changes in Life To Be The Best Version of You

    How to Make Changes in Life To Be The Best Version of You

    Let’s start with the problem:

    You get back from work. You’re tired. It was a long day. You know there’s things you could do, to get out of the rut you’re in.

    But, let’s be honest. You really would rather relax, sit down and chill for a bit. Grab a snack. Watch your favourite show.

    By the time you’ve done that, the day’s over. There’s just not enough time. To make this worse – you don’t have the energy or willpower to make changes in your life today.

    So where do you go from there?

    What you need are some easy to apply actions that are proven to work.

    This article is going to give you 4 steps on how to make changes in life so you can follow today and get closer to success – even when you are feeling tired and lazy.

    These steps have proven to work for me, and many of the coaching clients I work with privately.

    1. Squash Inconsistency by Giving up Motivation

    Now most people, when they want to make changes to their lives, focus on making lengthy to-do lists and plans. They think over and over again about what is going wrong, what is going well and what they want, etc.

    All in a bid to push themselves to getting more motivated.

    Guess what? This isn’t going to work.

    Willpower and motivation are feelings. Feelings are vague and unreliable.

    Instead, what you should do is focus on putting your flawed unpredictable self in the best possible environments.

    If you do one thing first from this list, it’s THIS:

    Find and go to the best possible environment for the area of your life you want to change.

    For example:

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    • If you want to get fit, make your first goal to show up at the gym three times a week.
    • If you want to find a new relationship, show up to a meet up in your city for single people.
    • If you want to be productive and make your business idea work, don’t work at home, go to a co working space nearby.

    The reason people fail to become the best version of themselves is because they underestimate the power of environments to influence behavior.

    Accept that you are flawed, prone to distractions and your motivation and willpower will fail you.

    The best hack at your disposal? Show up to “change inducing” environments and get out of your comfort zone (physically)!

    OK. Next step.

    2. Recruit an Elite Team to Help You (For Free)

    Open up any social media platform you’re active on that contains some positive connections you have.

    Send this message to one person you already know and trust ton help you make changes to your life:

    “Hey [first name]. Can I be really frank and honest with you? I’m having one of those – ‘OMG I NEED TO MAKE CHANGES TO MY LIFE!’ moments.

    And I was browsing the internet, looking for tips and this article I came across suggested accountability. So here I am, messaging you to be part of my accountability system.

    My ask is simple.

    Can we sit together once a week at [x place] but do absolutely no socializing? I’ll buy the [coffee/food] and it will be a space to force me to do [x thing]. You literally have to do nothing other than eat the free coffee/food I pay for lol. But it will keep my accountability high, which is what I need.

    What you reckon? Can you help? Thanks!”

    Now obviously, change the language to suit you but you get the idea.

    Not only are you going to environments that will help you make changes, but by bringing a friend (or two), you make it even likelier that you will succeed. It doesn’t even have to be in person, it could be a video call.

    People fail to make changes to their lives because they try to do it all themselves.

    It doesn’t really work in long term, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

    You can recruit and “enlist” people to help you. By doing this, you’re taking care of the up and down motivation you have.

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    Not only are people happy to help, when they see this type of behavior, they’re also inspired and motivated to change their lives. Pretty soon, you end up creating change in not just your life, but other people’s too.

    So when the next dip in willpower comes?

    You have a friend sitting right next to you, watching your every move, making sure you get things done anyway.

    3. Build Good Habits Effortlessly

    Changing your life means changing your day to day habits.

    Habits are automated behaviors you do everyday, like how a clock works, without thinking or motivating yourself to do them.

    Some habits help you to change, others can stop you. One of the best ways to replace your ‘bad’ habits with good ones is to treat them like old clothes. What happens when your t-shirt gets old, faded and out of fashion? You replace it with something new and improved.

    Do the same thing with your habits – upgrade and replace them with something better. Start small, then slowly graduate to higher levels of difficulty.

    Let me give you a clear example of what I mean:

    A few years ago (before it became mainstream), I was trying to start my own habit of meditating every single day to help boost my productivity and mindfulness. I’d done a mind blowing course called Vipassana. It involved 10 days of deeply powerful meditation combined with noble silence in a remote part of the UK.

    Now it was easy to do when I was there (#1 – environment!) with all those other meditators (#2 – people helping me). All I could do was meditate. There were ZERO distractions. I had NO CHOICE.

    When I got home however, after a few days of sticking with it, I quickly caved.

    Those extra 30 minutes of sleep were just so much easier than waking up everyday at 4am for a long one hour meditation.

    So what did I do to build this really important habit?

    Like with most things, I wanted to make changes to my life. I wanted to become my best self.

    I knew how important it was. I just couldn’t follow through consistently and kept failing over and over.

    Then, it hit me.

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    I needed to start small. I made a tiny change, that made all the difference.

    I made a tiny change, that I could stick to – without fail – that has me meditating daily every single day now.

    What was it?

    Instead of trying to do something BIG inconsistently (1 hour of 4am morning meditation) and failing again and again. I decided to do something small consistently.

    Building any good habit really just comes down to repetition. The way the brain is built works in favour of this.

    My new habit became:

    When I wake up, I will fold my bedding neatly. Then I will sit cross legged for 30 seconds with my eyes closed.

    Eventually, once I did this consistently for a few months. I increased difficulty.

    When I wake up, I will fold my bedding neatly. Then I will meditate for 10 minutes.

    Why does this work?

    What’s important here is that the behavior you want (meditating) is tied to another consistent habit (folding your bedding).

    I attached my new habit to one that already is consistent.

    Making it more likely to happen.

    Secondly, I aimed for consistency, not perfection. This is where a lot of people fail. They have an idea of the change they want, but things become all or nothing.

    When you do this, you fail to realize the power of consistency. The brain you have loves patterns. In this case, I trained my brain to repeat a set pattern every morning when I fold my bed.

    There was no motivation or willpower required.

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    This training has gone so far now that if I miss a day of meditating, I really feel uncomfortable. I’m just as conditioned to meditate as most people are to checking their phones in the morning.

    If you want to learn more about quitting bad habits, Lifehack’s CEO also has a guide on it: How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

    4. Create More Time by Quitting Social Media

    You know the best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity and it took me 30 seconds to do?

    I deleted all social media apps from my phone and blocked them on my laptop.

    Then, to reinforce it, I told all my friends and followers on Facebook (my most used platform) I wasn’t using it for a while.

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with my social media. Social media is a tool. Tools are neutral. It’s how we use them that is “productive” or “distracting”.

    We each have to judge how healthy our usage is, especially when weighed against unlocking our best self. That said, for most people reading this, including me, I think limiting our usage is a very favorable advantage.

    One of the best ways to make changes in our lives is not to add new tools or tricks. But simply remove things that distract us.

    Social media is something I use heavily for my businesses. Technically I’m a “social media influencer” and “YouTuber”. I need to be posting constantly, right?

    Our situations are unique, so I came up with a unique solution for this. After deleting and blocking these apps from my devices, I installed a social media management software that still allows me to post my updates.

    The big difference, however, is I cannot spend any time scrolling and being distracted.

    Final Thoughts

    Change is not always about more. Sometimes it’s about doing less and getting rid of what distracts or blocks you.

    Trying to do things by yourself is a good way to fail. Share your goals and pitfalls with people, no one helps until you ask.

    Start with small changes consistently instead of big changes failed at consistently. The momentum will give you results over time.

    So what to do next to make changes in your life?

    1. Write down where you are going to GO to create the changes you want.
    2. Message 3 to 4 people on social media and ask them to help you using the message template I gave you.
    3. Choose one small habit to get started with immediately and upgrade it over time.
    4. Delete all, or at least most social media apps on your devices, and notify people you are leaving to make it stick.

    More About Making Changes in Life

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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