We are the change

How does self-awareness affect the quality of your life?

One of the things that often strikes me is the extent to which people don’t really know themselves and, of the bits they do, they don’t particularly like.  This may sound provocative but that doesn’t make it any less true.

how to spot if you don’t know you:

-being self critical,
-not believing yourself to be good enough,
-playing small,
-believing others know better and abdicating your own personal power,
-beating yourself up,
-not asking for help,
-not asking for what you need and want,
-playing the blame game,
and so on, the evidence list is long.

I often talk about the need to get to know and like yourself but how do you know when you don’t?

My Journey

I will always remember the beginning of my own journey.  When we first started working together my coach told me:  “When you change, your whole life will change”.  At the time I had no idea what he meant but now, of course, I know this to be absolutely true and it starts with becoming more self-aware.

Over the years he held up the mirror to enable me to see how I was creating the reality I protested I didn’t want.  One of the biggest insights came a couple of years ago when I was on a personal development workshop and was asked “which part of you do you want to forgive?” and, without thinking, the words that came out of my mouth were:  “the part of me that doesn’t believe I’m worthy of love”.  As shocked as I was to hear myself say that, I could not deny the truth of it when I looked at my relationships – pretty much all of them, both my friendships and my marriage.

Take Notice

The question I’m often asked is this:  “how do I become more self-aware?”

The answer is “by noticing what you do that works for you and what you do that doesn’t.”

What are you thinking, feeling, saying or doing that causes you to feel great or bad about yourself? How do your thoughts make you feel? How do your feelings make you act? How do people react and respond to you?  Why might that be? To what extent are they responding to how you’re being? Be honest with yourself; don’t play “the innocent bystander.” Ask yourself, “To what extent do I influence the tone of my relationships?

Put it in writing

Start a journal and record it all.  Also record memories, ideas, insights.  Over time you will begin to see patterns and habits, you will become aware of unconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviours that influence the quality of your life.  You will no longer operate on automatic pilot like a hamster on a wheel.  Only then will you be in a position to start making positive changes.


Change your mind

How does the interpretation of something nobody can change affect their state of mind?

The truth is that the quality of your thoughts fundamentally affects how you experience your reality.
Change the quality of your thoughts and instantly your reality changes and with that, your emotional state.

Take the weather, for example.  Some people complain that it’s horrible out there, grey, windy, rainy.  On the other hand, if they’re a gardener or a farmer then rain is great!
The circumstances are exactly the same: it’s grey and rainy but some people interpret this as miserable and others as a blessing.

Here are a couple of other questions you can ask yourself:

  • “How do I contribute to those aspects of my life I keep complaining about?”
  • “When I look in the mirror, do I really know who that person is?  Do I know what she stands for, what really matters to her, what her needs and wants are, what is genuinely true for her, what her heart calls her to do and be?”

Getting to really know yourself is a process.

We hide our true selves behind a whole host of masks in order to be liked, to be accepted, to fit in.

Here are some more questions you can ask yourself:

  • How do you believe people expect you to be – as a person? As a friend? As a professional? As a partner?  As a woman?
  • More importantly, how do you expect yourself to be?
  • How do you expect other people to be? (and why do they so often fail to meet your expectations?)
  • Do you ever wonder why they treat you the way they do? Do you wish it were different?

Becoming more self-aware is not just about knowing what you should say or do in any particular situation. It’s about your values, beliefs and expectations about who you really are, what you really deserve, what it is OK to expect.

Unfortunately, we are regularly assaulted by limiting beliefs that keep us playing small, holding back, believing we are helplessly at the mercy of others, even Life itself without even being aware of it.   This journey requires commitment to yourself, not like one of those New Year resolutions that fizzle out in weeks but genuine commitment.  You deserve nothing less.

But, before you can begin to shed any of your masks, you first need to identify them which comes about through the process of becoming more self-aware. Letting go of your habitual values and beliefs, thoughts and feelings – the ones that no longer serve you – takes courage but there is no other way.

Becoming more self-aware is not just realising what you say and do that’s not working for you but also identifying your limiting beliefs about what kind of life it is possible for you to have.

But it’s not only the self limiting areas of your life you need to become aware of. You also need to notice what you do that actually does work for you so you can consciously continue doing more of the same.

Becoming more self-aware is the first step to begin to shed your masks, layer by layer to become authentic so you can finally stand tall in the world.


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  1. Milliemango says

    Fantastic article, how true. Thanks Sue for sharing such principles in a straight forward way. Now just have to put them into practice!

    1. Sue Plumtree says

      Hi Milliemango, thank you for your comment. You’re right, putting the principles into practice is the challenge. Sometimes it helps to have a buddy so you can support each other!

  2. Kate GL says

    Hi Sue,
    This piece really resonated with me – as my self awareness has grown, so has my contentment with who I am and also my tolerance and delight in the diversity of others. One of my hardest lessons has been to learn not to expect others to respond in the way I would and/or the way I want them to – in my experience transposing and expecting your values to be lived by others can only lead to disapppointment.
    You are so right about the quality of your thoughtsand outlook impacting how you experience life.
    Thanks for a great post

  3. Hi Sue
    First time here and like your article. Funnily enough the subject of self-awareness seems to have been this weeks theme! Two occasions in particular stand out…

    In discussing the ideal traits of a coach/mentor, the over-riding view was of self-awareness being an overarching trait without which none of the others had meaning. I think this applies beyond just coaching/mentoring. Something perhaps to look at is Gestalt as a coaching practice – it resonates here with awareness of external, physical & cognitive domains. The principles may perhaps be of interest to others beyond coaching & therapy?

    The other occasion was a discussion on reflective practice. Your point about journalling is well made. Sometimes either this practice doesn’t sit well with an individual or doesn’t have the required effect. If this is the case, then coaching conversations can create similar or greater impact. You don’t need a coach for this just someone with coaching skills… perhaps a peer/colleague/friend to work with first and then journal the learning outcomes and awareness raised. Something to consider.

    Hope this is useful!

  4. Sue Plumtree says

    Thanks, Kate. Becoming more self aware can have huge implications. I had a huge insight over the weekend which added to my awareness of who I am, as opposed to who I believe I am, if that makes sense

  5. Sue Plumtree says

    Hi David, thank you for your comments. You’re absolutely right about the value of coaching conversations and the fact that they don’t necessarily have to be with a coach. Like you, I have recently become much more self aware, a process that, I hope, will go on and on and on and …

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