MAKING IT BETTER: Self Awareness, Insight, Self Knowledge

These words all speak to a hugely important and significant skill we need to constantly strive for in order to be the best we can for ourselves and those around us. One of the sobering experiences of working with clients as a therapist or coach is that you are constantly faced with ongoing reflections of a vast array of behaviours, attitudes and unconscious processes that at some point you will as a clinician, but most importantly as a human being, identify with. That is one of the reasons why we constantly need to have an acute knowledge of our own self awareness and maintain a healthy balance of our own issues. In an ideal world and in texts books, this works seamlessly. But in reality this can be nothing short of a herculean task, and depending on what is going on in your own life it becomes an even bigger struggle. It helps to be aware of what your own stuff is so as not to get drawn into your client’s projection of their own issues on to you.

It is impossible to over emphasise the importance and power of self awareness. Equally it is quite incredible to observe the number of people who have little or no insight into who they are and display a total lack of self awareness that is comparable to that of an infant.

Awareness is the first step in healing or changing. When we have some behaviour or pattern deeply buried in us, becoming aware is a prerequisite to healing the condition. Each moment is a new beginning and the point of power is always in the present moment. The present is where change can always take place. The past is gone forever and the future is out of our control, but the present…. the now, is what is within our control that is why it is a gift (a present). It doesn’t matter how long we may have had a negative pattern, poor choices in relationships, bad handling of finances, harmful behaviour, whatever it may be; changes can take place right here, right now in our mind, that can turn our lives around. After all, you are the only person who thinks in your mind. Much as many of us like to think someone else is in control of our happiness or prosperity or well being, you are actually the power and authority in your world. Continuing to think the same old thoughts, to believe the same old things and to say the same old things, refusing to change them will result in the same old problems and prognosis.

Stop and catch your thoughts, your utterances. It may not be as easy as you think because it happens so quickly and we have conditioned ourselves to having them without being conscious of it, so it would be quite hard work to actually be aware of when it is happening, and to change the course of your thinking for better.

Having a balanced and honest view of your own personality can only serve you well. It will give you the ability to interact with others frankly and confidently. It is beyond shocking the number of people walking around who have a completely unreal, skewed, delusional view of who they think they are. When you are working within a false self and are not in touch with the truth of who you are, there is no way any of your choices can work for you. Even if you think they are working for you and you appear to be successful, it is only a matter of time before you are confronted with the truth of your true self and you are rendered inauthentic. This is usually when people strike out at others and take out their fear, frustration, and unhappiness on others.

Impatience is a resistance to learning and change. Acknowledging responsibility and culpability for the part we might have played in creating the situation or condition we find ourselves in is a position of awareness and power because it also implies a willingness and readiness to make changes. This is not to be confused with feelings of guilt, self pity or castigating oneself. It is more about acknowledging the power within you.

A case in point is a state of mind I found myself in about a week ago. I was moody, I felt sad, even angry about nothing In particular; it was just my state of mind. As I sank lower and lower into this fog, all the while convincing myself that something was wrong and I was right to be sad, it became impossible for me to be productive about anything.

Unbeknownst to me my daughters had been watching me. My older one who is very gentle with me tried to explore what could be making me unhappy or sad. I gave her nothing. She kindly said I should lie down and she will make me a cup of tea and let it pass (sweet girl). My younger daughter? Well she stumped into my room asked what was going on, and told me in no uncertain terms that I had nothing to be sad about. She said this was what I tend to do when things are going well and I just try to bring some drama into my life. My first instinct was to get very annoyed and feel misunderstood. However as I looked at this young woman I had raised to be honest and mindful, I simply burst into laughter and told her to leave my room.

The truth of the matter is she was right. I know enough about myself to recognise that when I have decisions to make  that I am slightly unsure of I initially convince myself I have problems that don’t exist so I can deflect from what is really going on. I eventually attack the problem from this position of turmoil but it is really not necessary and sometimes clouds my decision making process. I keep working towards finding ways to quell my self doubts.

Some of our biggest lessons can be learnt through awareness. Your greatest lesson at the moment is probably tied around what you consider the hardest thing for you to do and how much you resist it, regardless of how big or small the challenge is. I can certainly think of a couple of things I have been resisting for some time which is now firmly in my conscious mind, and I am observing my resistance but I am also equally making the mental changes, intent on going ahead anyway. How many times have you made a decision to make some significant changes in your life because you have identified a need to do so and the minute you prepare to embark on the process you somehow manage to conjure up a myriad of reasons why it can’t be done at that time or at all…it’s your unconscious resistance to change. Too often we decide which one of our friends needs to change or we are quick to point out all the flaws in others, instead of working on our own changes.

Repeated patterns show us our needs. The need corresponds with some belief that we hold on to. Without this need we would not have to do it. It’s almost akin to the physiological, psychological or emotional need a person has for a drug or any other harmful behaviour. As bizarre and incomprehensible as it may sound, there is something within us that has a need for poor relationships, failures, anger, abuse, or whatever there is that’s a problem for us. We have invested in these behaviours for whatever reason.

I had a client who was very intelligent, had been successful in her career and had the potential to rise to heady heights and to be quite accomplished which was something she said was her aspiration. However in order to take her career to the next level which would give her the financial security she needed as well as the career satisfaction she not only deserved but that would make her feel relevant and confident, she needed to complete certain academic requirements. She would embark on the courses, but would not complete them at the last haul. It was not that she was incapable of doing the work, but she always wound up with other life events that rendered her incapable of completing the work so she was always one step away from her goal, which enabled her to encourage the chatter in her mind that told her she was not good enough and how tragic her life was. In one of our sessions I asked her if she was afraid of success and she looked at me stunned. She thought it was the most outrageous statement for me to make, but after much work and exploration of her resistances we unearthed her fear of taking responsibility for her life. By not allowing herself to take that next step which would require her to be a grown up, in charge and control of her life and destiny she could remain this vulnerable, helpless non adult, a role she had played all her life and was holding on to out of fear of what it would feel like to be held responsible with no one to blame for her mistakes but herself.

The true meaning of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome!


Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister

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8 Responses to MAKING IT BETTER: Self Awareness, Insight, Self Knowledge

  1. Maduka Justina September 11, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    God bless you and bless you ma
    You have touched a bleeding part of me.
    Thanks for giving me the right medicine. My past is past.

  2. Elaine Nwosu September 11, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    We are the sole pioneers/sailors of our destinies. Nobody will fight it for us if we don’t have the fight ourselves.

  3. Olakunle Olajide September 11, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    The power of the mind. Thank you ma’am, you just know how make your words sink in. I must continue that process.

  4. Olajumoke James September 13, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you for this inspirational write up. I feel strengthened beyond words. I hope you will also be at the event. We should meet the people behind this great website for women.

  5. Maria September 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I see that woman in me. I want to do more, I know what to do but I keep running away because of fear. Thanks for this encouragement.

  6. Gloria Ogunbadejo September 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

    God willing Jumoke, I will be there to meet you all. I am delighted many of you find comfort, encouragement, inspiration in your visits to our/your website..ABOVE WHISPERS.
    Blessings to you all

  7. Perpetua Dandeson September 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you for this ma’am. A lot of us battle with fear.

  8. Eric Onuoha September 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    A really inspiring article. It is important for an individual to know himself—his unique strength and abilities.

    It is also important to be responsible and proactive in doing the things that will enable a person to succeed.

    Great article


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