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  • Writer's pictureChrissie Mowbray

The Power of Self-Awareness

The Power of Self-Awareness

And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” – Rumi

Much of the work we do involves personal development. We seek to empower others to become so Self-aware that they can show up in the world in the presence of all their triggers and be ok.

Lisa Lister suggests in her book ‘Witch’ that we are wise if we come to know ourselves so well that no-one can show us anything about the Self that we have not already seen.

The greater the level of Self-awareness, the greater the proportion of choice we have within our lives. We can not always choose what happens to us but we can choose our response to what happens to us and that is where the power lies. When we can understand live according to this principle, we are no longer at the mercy of external events or internal imaginings.

Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them – Epictitus 100AD

It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.- Carl Jung

When something happens to us to cause insult or injury, the pain is often harder to bear if we perceive that it came about through injustice or betrayal. When we perceive that we have been wronged, we can often remain incredulously stuck in the processing of how and why a person could do this to us. This is because, when we are hurt by someone, intentionally or otherwise, there is great emotional weight to the situation for us.

As we have discussed so many times, we all have our own individual model of the world consisting of information from childhood and past experiences coupled with our own genetic blueprint. We also develop a set of core beliefs about the Self and those around us. These help us to form a workable understanding of the world and our place in it. The fact is however, that everyone’s model of the world is different. This is a common cause of conflict. If I have been conditioned to believe that something is wrong and I witness it, my processing of witnessing it will involve less pleasant emotions than one who does not have a problem with it – I will be uncomfortable. I may express my discomfort believing myself to be right, thus causing a disagreement. The less comfortable I am, the more passionate the argument – especially if the other party equally believes themselves to be right,

During our experience in training health professionals and the general public in wellbeing and resilience, we have come to distil the many negative core beliefs that people have about themselves down to two simple statements:

I am unworthy

I am not whole or broken in some way

As we have said so many times, in childhood we are hardwired to survive. It is our nature to adopt behavioural strategies designed counter these negative core beliefs – to become more worthy, and to fix what is broken. This is to make ourselves more acceptable. Acceptability is the antithesis of rejection and rejection equals death to a child. The need to be liked runs deep. Various behavioural strategies along with old processing follow us into adulthood as our need for acceptance remains. We shape our personalities in such a way that we gain approval. We compromise the true Self to ensure our safety.

We become the person that the world sees.

For example

If I am kind, helpful and do not put myself first, people will like me (I will be accepted)

Cleanliness is next to Godliness – if I am dirty or untidy, I will be disapproved of (I will be rejected)

I need to succeed so that my family will be proud of me (I will be accepted)

When we are meeting all of these personal requirements for acceptance and approval, we feel safe.

When someone hurts or betrays us unexpectedly, our strategies are challenged, and our negative core beliefs confirmed. We tell ourselves that betrayal and injustice is proof that they are true.

  1. My friend gossiped about me because I did not warrant her loyalty – I am not worthy

  2. My partner left me - I am unlovable therefore – I must be broken 

  3. I lost my job because I am rubbish –  I am not worthy

  4. I was picked last for netball because I am not trusted – I am broken

  5. I was not invited for drinks after work with everyone else because they do not like me – I am broken

Each of these initial statements has a fact at the beginning followed by an assumption which allows us to confirm the negative belief. This is known as ‘selective evidence gathering. These assumptions are thoughts and not necessarily truth. As we understand when we consult the CBT cycle, thoughts lead to emotions. Negative emotions are uncomfortable body experiences, which in turn lead decisions designed to protect from discomfort. For the above examples these might be as follows:

  1. I will never trust my friends again.

  2. I am better off single so that I will never get hurt.

  3. I will stay in a job I know I can do so that I avoid rejection.

  4. I will never participate in sport again in case I fail.

  5. I will change myself so that people like me more.

In her book ‘Warrior Heart Practice’ Heatherash Amara teaches an invaluable tool for unravelling our distorted thinking and seeking the truth.

As always, the key is to recognise these processes within us and to challenge their truth.

Try this:

When you find yourself hurt or wounded by the actions of another, be it intentionally or not

press pause

You can take a moment to congratulate yourself for the progress you are making in your ability to observe. By stepping into the shoes of your Observer Self you are becoming conscious of your thoughts and emotions. This is the first step towards choosing your responses.

As always, take a moment to offer up gratitude for your progress.

Notice how the situation makes you feel. Where does the emotion sit within your body? What one

word would you use to describe it?






Now take some time to examine the assumptions you are making to flesh out the story, to feed your fears and to confirm your negative core beliefs. These are thoughts and present as whole sentences rather than single words as emotions do.

My friends are all talking about me

Everyone thinks I’m rubbish at my job

I’m one of those people who just can’t meet the right person

Nobody cares that I am upset

Now ask yourself what the truth is. This presents as simple fact without the why’s and wherefores.

My partner left

My friends made other arrangements

I was challenged about my actions at work

Sit with the truth and know that there are unlimited reasons why people behave a certain way. It is useful here to become familiar with the second agreement in the book ‘The Four agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz’ – don’t take anything personally. When we look at the wider picture we can see that the actions of another are never about us. People gossip to fit in and be accepted themselves. We may be unsuccessful at interview because our talents lie elsewhere and we are destined for much greater things in another direction. Someone may leave us because they have outgrown the relationship and if that is the case, although painful, they time may well have come for us to move on too. In all situations, if we appreciate that there are many perspectives, we can understand that nothing is personal. The truth is that we can only know what is going on for us, and that is where we begin our work.

With gratitude, we can appreciate that becoming upset as a result of any external circumstance can point us towards where we can work to become more buoyant throughout life. A part of us has been exposed as vulnerable and may need nurture – this is cause for celebration! As we continue our work piece by piece as each part is revealed to us – we can learn to give it what it needs. With humour, kindness and humility we can be assured that this work is never finished. This is not a project. This is a change in the way we do being human. We will always have the capacity to learn new ways to nurture, support, embolden and champion all parts of the Self.

Whether you embark on the work or not is up to you and only you and there is no person better suited for the job!

For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your

human experience see our book:

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11. maj

Ladies...your weekly posts are pure gold and with immense global reach. I am so grateful to the Universe for you! You bless my heart! 💜

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