Self-awareness – Why you need it

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung

How well do we really know ourselves?

Everybody thinks that they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste (and a sense of humour),” said Carrie Fisher’s character in When Harry Met Sally, thus highlighting the disconnect between how we see ourselves differently to how others may see us.

Our reputation, or how we come across in the workplace and how others see us (rather than our ability to do the job) has the biggest impact on advancing or holding us back in our careers. Critically though, our own levels of self- awareness can be pretty low.

By understanding and then harnessing what you are like on a good day and becoming aware of what you can be like on a bad day and working out strategies to lessen the impact of any of your typical behaviours when you are feeling stressed or irritable can improve your relationships with you bosses and colleagues and can lessen any damage to your reputation at work.

Why is self-awareness important?

Sometimes we are unclear about who we really are (rather than the face that we present to the world) what we really want, our behaviour and why we do what we do.

Successful people tend to be self-aware, know what they are good at and play to these strengths. Equally, people who understand their performance limitations and how to manage them, tend to have more successful careers.

By exploring your performance in the workplace and your interpersonal behaviour, you can become more aware of

  • How you manage your emotions

  • how you manage stress

  • how resilient you are

  • how you interact with others

  • how you like to learn, approach work tasks and solve problems (you achieve….)

and also discover which strengths, when overused can derail relationships and careers. This process builds self-awareness by highlighting behavioural tendencies of which you may be unaware, tendencies that emerge when a person is stressed, bored, or fatigued.

Confessions of a People Pleaser

I spent the first part of my adult life unclear on what I was doing or why I was doing it, usually falling into things on the suggestion of other people, or simply a whim.

Through working with a coach, I realised that as a child, I looked around and I decided (subconsciously) that my job was to be the “people pleaser” in the family; the easy-going, “I don’t mind, what do you want to do?” member. So busy was I deferring to others that increasingly, many of the important decisions I came to make in my life, such as career, financial and relationship choices were usually at least partly based on what someone else wanted for me or from me. At the time I was unaware of this and struggling to understand why I constantly suffered from constant low-grade dissatisfaction and restlessness, jumping from one job, friendship or relationship to another.

Once I understood I had largely been driven by seeking approval and impulsive ill-thought out decisions, I realised that ultimately following other people’s goals and desires, left me frustrated and personally unfulfilled and anyway, (I found out the hard way), it is impossible to please everyone. For the first time I gave some serious thought to what was important to me – what my values and motivations were. On the flip side, it’s not all bad being a natural people pleaser, it makes me inclined to be empathetic, interpersonally sensitive and concerned about the welfare of others which is handy when you are a coach!

It’s All About Balance

Gaining insight and self-awareness is not an exercise in eliminating or changing our personality traits. It is about understanding what they are managing and using them to their best advantage.

No one is perfect. We all have different flaws, based on a myriad of factors; nature, nurture and conditioning, the sum total of our life experiences so far which are unique to us and the fact that we are all human. The good news is, that we are all absolutely good enough as we are.

We all have amazing talents and strengths; sometimes these are immediately identifiable, but sometimes our strengths lie dormant and remain unrecognised, under-developed and unused.

I believe that if I had been able to work this out earlier on in my life I may have navigated my 20s and early part of my 30s in a less haphazard fashion! I may have also worked out a lot sooner, that the life of a sales rep was not for me. I loved taking my clients out and entertaining them on expenses, but having little sense of urgency, being disinclined to be competitive or motivated by deadlines or targets, it never quite clicked that I was actually there to sell stuff!

The point is this; you cannot accept what you do not acknowledge or what you do not consciously know.

How I Can Help You Become More Self-Aware

Through coaching, personality assessment and feedback, I help people become aware of their strengths and how to develop them. I also help people safely explore their flaws and weaknesses, not in order to eliminate them, but to understand how they may be unknowingly sabotaging themselves, what their “drivers” may be, how to bring them into balance and to stop them becoming a problem.

Possible drivers include fear of failure, fear of success, procrastination, perfectionism, low boredom threshold and imposter syndrome.

Working towards becoming more self-aware, accepting and liking yourself “gives you the ability to act consciously, instead of reacting to people and events” and “the ability to redirect your negative thoughts and emphasise positive ones” says This is basically the ability to rise above other people’s “stuff” at will so that you are better able to shrug off all that could otherwise ruin your mood and your day in an instant.

In Summary

Knowing what makes us flourish and what brings us meaning, satisfaction and happiness, gives us more peace of mind, clarity, purpose and direction. This creates an environment in which we can thrive; managing our self-sabotaging behaviours and illuminating toxic relationships, giving us the assurance to be kinder, more compassionate, less judgemental towards ourselves and others, creating much better relationships across all aspects of our lives, allowing us to let go of any resentment, insecurity, jealousy and anger.