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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.

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    Last Updated on September 29, 2020

    How to Change Your Life at 60 Years Old and Feel Proud of Yourself

    How to Change Your Life at 60 Years Old and Feel Proud of Yourself

    Ever heard the phrase 60 is the new 40? While that maybe an exaggeration, it’s meant to highlight the very real phenomenon of our ever increasing health and longer lifespans.

    For the average person who turned 60 in 1970, they could expect to retire at age 64 and live to age 70.8. For someone who turned 60 in 2010, they can very easily work throughout their entire 60’s and expect to live to at least 78.7 years old.[1] With the advances in modern medicine, lower rates of smoking and generally healthier lifestyles, our active and productive years can expand well into our 70’s and beyond.

    How we choose to use this “extra” time will be determined by our current situation and our priorities for the future.

    For some, their 60’s are a time to kick back and relax. They have worked for 30+ years, lived below their means and diligently saved money for retirement. They may also have sold a successful business, or been able to retire from a (increasing scarce) job that had a good pension.

    For others, the prospect of retirement isn’t even a thought. Whether it’s a case of financial reality or just the psychological need to be productive, a continuing presence in the workforce is a reality for more and more of the 60+ crowd.

    So how to change your life at 60 years old and feel proud of yourself?

    Changing Priorities in Your 60’s

    For most us us, our priorities change as we get older. Living for parties and excitement, what use to be called “working for the weekend” slowly gives way to working on the weekend and eventually working towards retirement.

    By the time we hit our 60’s, a lot of us are looking to slow down. Health issues, either our own, our spouses or parents often come into play at this time in our life. This combined with having (hopefully) grown children, a paid or nearly paid off home and bit of savings in the bank. This means that you can start to trade long hours and stressful work situations for a more flexible schedule and more leisure time.

    The key to making a successful life change in your 60’s is being prepared for both the mental and financial challenges you are likely to face.

    Understanding the Psychological Challenges

    Any major life change comes with its own set of psychological challenges. When that change takes place in our 60’s. there are some very specific psychological issues to be aware of.

    Some of these issues are apparent and we easily recognize them. For instance, we’ve all heard someone say “When I retire, I don’t know what I’ll do with all that time on my hands”. While other challenges are more subtle and harder to quantify such as depression and anxiety.

    While not everyone suffers with all or even most of them, here are come common psychological issues to be aware of:

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    Anxiety

    Even positive life changes can cause our anxiety levels to increase. Humans are creatures of habit. We develop routines that make our lives predictable and we rely on that predictability to give us comfort.

    Now imagine that after 30+ years of having a relatively stable and routine job, you suddenly retire, get sick, or find yourself out of a job. The routine that you have relied upon to give you a sense of normalcy is suddenly gone.

    In humans, the natural response to any major life changing event is an increase in anxiety. Symptoms and severity will vary from person to person, but you should always expect your anxiety levels to increase with any major life change in your 60’s.

    What can you do about it?

    Establish a new routine to replace the old one, this is the reason we have hobbies!

    Gardening, golf, tennis, volunteer work all can help to get you back into a comfortable routine.

    Helpful hint: Pick a hobby that has both a physical and social component to it. Both physical and social activity will help to lower anxiety levels.

    Depression

    Even the most happy-go-lucky of us become susceptible to depression during a major life event. In fact, when retiring, changing careers or even striking out on a new business adventure, both anxiety and depression can go hand in hand.

    You may find yourself with a lot of excess “nervous” energy that you would have used at your job to meet deadlines and get things done. On the other hand, you may find that you have no energy and all and it’s tough to even get out of bed.

    While everyone experiences everyday or “normal” bouts of anxiety and depression, it becomes a problem when these episodes become severe, or last longer that a few days.

    At that point, it turns into a serious life threatening situation. It’s recommended that a person seeks medical help if they experience any of the following symptoms:

    • Feelings of extreme sadness, emptiness or hopelessness that seem to envelop you.
    • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, especially over small or normally insignificant matters.
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that use to give pleasure, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
    • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
    • General tiredness or malaise, so that even small tasks seem to take a lot of effort.
    • Unusual changes in appetite, rapid weight loss or gain.
    • Slowed or delayed patterns of thinking, speaking or body movements.
    • Constant feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
    • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things (more than normal).
    • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicide or suicide attempts.
    • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain, headaches or stomach ailments.

    Dealing with the Financial Challenges

    There are very unique financial considerations to take into account when making a major life change in your 60’s.

    Depending on your situation, you may find yourself having to come to terms with a completely new relationship with money. Whether retiring, changing careers or starting your own business, chances are your income is going to take a hit.

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    Part of making a successful life change at 60 is anticipating and planning for these events so you don’t get blindsided. The following is a list of general recommendations that everyone in their 60’s should consider.

    1. Get aggressive about paying off debt

    Especially credit card debt, it’s almost always at a high interest rate and, without any tax advantages, it just makes all of your purchases more expensive.

    So if you are still carrying balances on your credit cards every month, it’s time to get those paid off.

    Start with the credit card that has the highest interest rate, and then work your way to the card with the lowest rate.

    These tips on How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years can help you too.

    2. Pay off the house

    If your home isn’t paid off already, after paying off credit card debt, this should be the next goal. It’s much less stressful going into a situation where you’ll have less income if your house is paid off.

    You’ll not only reduce your expenses by not having a mortgage payment, but you’ll also have the piece of mind that comes with knowing that your home isn’t going anywhere.

    3. Make a budget

    No matter what kind of change you make in your 60’s — career change, retirement or becoming a entrepreneur, both your income and expenses are going to change.

    Things like the cost of commuting, wardrobe expenses, credit card and mortgage payments are likely to be reduced. You’ll still need to budget for things like home repair and maintenance (how’s the AC unit or the roof?). Car maintenance and even replacement.

    And don’t forget about leisure and entertainment expenses, after all, we all need to enjoy life. As a general rule, 30% of your budget should be allocated to leisure and entertainment expenses.

    4. Examine and re-adjust your investment portfolio

    This is where a good financial planner comes in. While your earlier investment goals were designed to maximize the amount of money in your retirement account. At this point in your journey, the goals have changed to providing you an income for the rest of your life.

    You also want to protect the principal from unnecessary risks so it lasts as long as you do. A good financial adviser can help you make the change from a growth orientated investment strategy into more dividend or income producing assets for your golden years.

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    5. Consider a change of address

    Depending on where you live, moving to a new state might make financial sense. High tax states not only can zap your resources faster than states with lower taxes, but can often times make you get much more “bang for your buck” by moving.

    Things like housing, personal property, sales and gas taxes can all add up to a significant savings in a low tax state. Places like Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida all have an influx of people migrating from the higher tax states on each coast.

    6. Reexamine your insurance needs

    A good experienced insurance broker is your best asset when tackling this task.

    Do you still need that disability policy to cover your mortgage in case you get hurt? Or could you take that money and buy an annuity that would give you some extra income? What about the cash value of your life insurance?

    Walt Disney used the cash value of his life insurance to start Disneyland.[2] Even your car insurance needs to be reevaluated. You can often times save money through good driving and senior discounts as well as eliminating your commuter miles.

    Talk to your insurance broker to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of insurance.

    7. Consider becoming an entrepreneur

    Roughly 1/3 of people in their 60’s decide to strike out on their own and be their own boss. And why not?

    Children are (usually) out of the house, household and credit card debt is likely to be low, most people have some savings by this point in their life and often times they are at the pinnacle of their career.

    With the prospect of any further career advancement unlikely, many see this as the perfect time to start their own business.

    Now ideally, if you’re going to start a business, you should start 2-3 years before you plan on retiring. This will give you a chance to become established, build your network and income stream all while maintaining the benefits of your current job.

    But even if you didn’t start early, you can still become a successful entrepreneur, in fact, studies show that older entrepreneurs are generally more successful than their younger counterparts.

    So don’t think that your too old to start something, many successful entrepreneurs started businesses later in life. People like Ray Kroc (McDonald’s), Harland “Colonel” Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Walt Disney, Charles Flint (IBM) and many more. The only person telling you that you can’t do it is you.

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    It’s never too late to start your business! Here’s the proof.

    8. Consider becoming a consultant

    If you don’t feel the bite of the entrepreneur bug, but still want to stay connected and earn money. How about becoming a consultant?

    After 30+ years working in an industry, you’ve built up a world of knowledge, contacts and experience. All of which is useful and has value.

    Doing consulting work allows you to have control over your schedule and, once you are established, it can provide a significant source of income.

    9. Get a part-time job for more than just the money

    Both entrepreneurship and consulting can take a lot of time and effort, but picking the right part time job can cut your expenses and give you a little spending money.

    What are your hobbies? Do you like to golf? Become a marshal on your local golf course. Most courses will pay you a modest hourly rate and let you golf for free.

    How about gardening? A part time job at your local nursery will not only provide you with pocket money, but also a discount on plants.

    Whatever your hobbies or interests, there’s a part time job out there for you.

    Conclusion

    Whether you are changing careers, starting a business or retiring, big life changes are by their very nature stressful.

    The great thing about being older is that we have the advantage of experience. We’ve been though other life changing events and can anticipate some of the issues we’ll face.

    Becoming well informed, getting prepared and making a plan will insure that you can change your life at 60 years old and feel proud of yourself.

    Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via unsplash.com

    Reference

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