The Key to Success: Unlocking self-awareness
In my late teens and early 20s, I would look at successful people, whether they were a well-known business owner or simply a full-time blogger, and I would be envious. Always.
No matter who it was. I was just always jealous. And slightly mad… Is that even okay to say?
They seemed to have a certain “it” factor that I couldn’t figure out. And it was surely something that I didn’t have on my own.
They appeared confident and fearless. It was like they could do anything without a care or worry in the world.
And it was a giant mystery to me. It was like every successful person had the exact same trait.
And I began to question what could I do to get that trait. Are you just born with it? And maybe I’m just the unlucky one?
Maybe I wasn’t meant to be successful because I didn’t have this trait. Maybe I was just meant to be so-called “normal” and go about life as I was. Following the rules that everyone around me said I had to follow.
Go to college, Cathrin. Major in business, Cathrin. This is the real world, Cathrin. Good luck living on the streets, Cathrin.
But somewhere along the line, after starting my website and working my butt off to improve myself, I stumbled into it. I tripped and fell flat on my face with realization.
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It was like someone opened a door and then smashed a pie in my face. Or maybe just that a fog in my brain lifted and I could finally understand. It’s like that saying “I was blind but now I can see”.
Yeah. That was me in that moment.
But this “it” factor, the thing that every successful person has in common is self-awareness.
They know who they are and they don’t try to fight it. Instead, they go with it! And they use it to their advantage. They make mistakes, but they go on. They don’t let it destroy them.
They are themselves. To a beautiful fault. And without excuse.
And it’s admirable. Beautiful really.
Honestly, think about it. How amazing would this world be if everyone was just unapologetically themselves? I mean sure, some people could be real jerks deep down and maybe that’s unapologetically themselves.
But the world would be filled with less BS. Fewer lies. And just more authentic living.
It makes me giddy thinking about it.
What is self-awareness
Truth is, I’m not sure I’m the right person to tell ya.
You see. Right there. There it is. My lack of confidence in myself. Just flat out. Thrown into the world with just a little sentence.
When I couldn’t figure out this “it” factor I was talking about, it was because I really didn’t understand what self-awareness was. Because I didn’t realize that I lacked it within myself.
It’s funny really.
It simply took me to understand something so deep for me to realize that it was the answer I was looking for.
Yet now here we are. And I’m the one talking about self-awareness instead of reading all about it.
So let’s look at the definition of self-awareness to kick off this conversation.
“Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”
Well, this series is about to get real deep. To the point where it even might make you uncomfortable. But that’s the freaking point!
Self-awareness isn’t something you stumble into. It’s not a trait that you are born with. It’s something that you work toward.
By getting to know yourself on the deepest level, you learn what makes you tick, why you do what you do, and why you feel the way you feel.
So don’t expect it to happen overnight. Don’t expect to find it one day while you’re walking down the street.
It will come. I promise you. And when it does, your self-awareness will free you.
You will be able to do things that you never thought were possible. You will be able to challenge your mind and body in ways you’ve been too afraid or embarrassed to do. You will lift that weight off your shoulders and stop holding yourself back from real success.
How to achieve self-awareness
Okay. We already talked about this a little that this isn’t something that you achieve in 3 simple steps. So I’m not going to waste your day blabbing on and on and on.
What I’m going to do instead is talk about some things that might help you discover who you truly are to achieve this level of self-awareness that we are all looking for.
Don’t you dare skip this section. Don’t you dare do it!
If you are already running away from the words “self-help”, then you need to stop right there and open your mind. You will never reach self-awareness or even success with a closed mind.
So open it. Open it real good. And keep reading.
I first got into self-help books at the beginning of 2017.
And it’s funny because I actually remember this moment. I was house and dog sitting for a family member and I was working from their kitchen bar area. As I sat there for almost a week not doing any work, I realized that I was never going to be successful if I didn’t prioritize my life!
So I decided that I wanted to buy a productivity planner. And I did. That day.
But I also bought 2 books. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso and Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose by Lara Casey.
So after my Amazon order arrived in the mail, I started reading #GIRLBOSS. And I was hooked. I mean I read this book in 2 weeks. And that was with me only reading a little bit before bed each night.
I just couldn’t get enough. It was so fascinating to learn how someone else went from nothing into something!
So then I turned to Make it Happen. And to be completely honest with you, I gave up on this book after a few chapters. It talked about God way too much that it was unsettling to me. I couldn’t keep reading it. (Hello, closed-minded Cathy)
I ended up putting that book down and went to Target to buy some more books. When I was there I wanted to buy 2 new ones. So I found Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest and Note to Self by Connor Franta. But then I overheard some women around me talking. They were looking at the book You Are A Badass.
I just remember them saying how everyone was reading that book and how it was really changing lives. And that was all I needed to hear.
I left Target with 3 books and I started reading.
All it took was for me to read You Are A Badass for my whole life to change. And I’m not joking with you here. This book truly changed my life. And the most important thing that it did was make me more open-minded than I was when I first tried to read Make it Happen.
So here are some of my favorite self-help books that will help you to discover who you are, break away from your limiting beliefs, and live a life that is truly on purpose.
I feel like I talk about this book a lot. Because I do. If I could give each and every one of you a present for simply being awesome, it would be this book. It’s just that amazing!
This book covers the basics of your beliefs and where they come from. How to break away from beliefs that aren’t serving you. How to channel the energy of the Universe to become your trust and highest self. (Sounds weird right) And it will ultimately help you to realize that you are in fact a freakin’ badass!
This book was actually recommended in the back of You Are A Badass. And if it wasn’t recommended there, I’m not sure I would have bought it. But this book… let’s just say: wow.
When I first started reading this book, I had to keep stopping. It was so much to take it. There was so much raw, honest truth that it was hard to swallow. But it’s amazing, eye-opening and a real game changer.
And don’t get discouraged by the cover. People may look at you weird, but you’ll learn that it doesn’t matter what they think.
Honestly, I’m not even finished reading this book yet, and I’m already obsessed with it. So to be honest, there isn’t much I want to say here.
But this book includes lessons and stories by women that are simply inspirational. And if you are looking for an inspirational yet self-awareness type book, then go and get your hands on this one today!
As I’m learning more about myself, I’m learning to listen to myself to honor what my body, mind, and soul all need to coexist. I’ve learned that I’m 100% an introvert and that I need time alone. I’ve also discovered that I long for quiet.
When I was a senior in college, I was battling with anxiety and slight depression. I’d never experience anything like it before. I really had no idea what my mind was doing.
I was just confused. And I wanted to quiet it in any way that I could.
So I decided that I would start meditating.
Well, 2 days later I gave up. I couldn’t figure it out. They said quite your mind, focus on your breath, it takes practice, but I didn’t have the patience. So I deleted the meditation app from my phone and never told anyone about it.
And then a little over a year later, I finally decided to give meditation a try. But this time I was doing it because I read over and over again that successful people meditate. (There I was again, chasing that word success)
Now I meditate every morning for at least 5 minutes. Sometimes it’s a guided practice through the Simple Habit app. And sometimes I just set a time to sit in quiet for 5 minutes. It’s the best way to start my day because then I know I can back and quiet my mind anytime I need to throughout the day.
Meditation is a great way to better understand who you are. When you can understand your thoughts and take the time for yourself, you’ll start to realize things that were right in front of your all along.
So yeah, meditation is a big deal. And the more articles you read, the more you will realize that this is a big factor to self-awareness and self-acceptance.
And remember that meditation is not about shutting out your thoughts. I heard someone say once that trying to shut off the thoughts in your mind would be like asking your heart to stop beating.
Meditation helps you to understand your thoughts and that your thoughts are just thoughts. You have control over them. No one else.
Self-awareness is all about knowing yourself, right? So… how do you usually get to know people?
You ask them questions of course!
So start asking yourself questions. Be curious about everything that you do.
When you have a belief, question it. Think about why you believe what you believe and if your beliefs are really yours. And then think about your feelings and your reactions. When you get mad at something, question why that is happening.
There is something inside of you that makes you do what you do. But the more you question it the more you become aware of why you act the way you act.
And that’s a beautiful thing to really be alive and to understand that at the deepest level.
But when you question yourself, don’t do it in a negative way. When you are mad, don’t get even madder at yourself for being mad.
You are allowed to be mad and have feelings! You’re human!
Just try to understand them.
And feel free to ask yourself other questions as well. Questions like who are your idols, what does success look like to you, if you could do anything… what would it be, if you could meet someone who would you meet, or if you could change anything about the world what would it be? There are so many questions you could ask yourself.
Act like you are dating yourself if that helps. And keep the questions comin’.
Do what makes you happy
This is my last tip for the day. I think I’ve rambled on enough for one blog post. So I’ll end with this simple question…
What makes you happy?
And I mean truly happy. What makes you forget the time and even forget that you’re hungry? What sets your soul on fire and makes you feel alive?
What puts a smile on your face no matter how unhappy you were moments before?
If there anything that’s putting a smile on your face right now. Because I’ve got to tell ya, I’m smiling on the other side of the screen as a right this. Because helping others and inspiring others to really be themselves makes me undeniably happy.
So if you want to achieve self-awareness, then I recommended starting with areas that you already know make yourself happy.
And try to do one of those things every single day! For me, yoga, photography, writing, hanging with my dog, working out, reading, and talking to you guys honestly makes me really happy. And some of those things took me awhile to figure out!
But if I want to improve my mood, I know that I can just hop on Instagram and talk to you guys for a little and you brighten my life!
So start doing what makes you happy. There is no point in doing anything that doesn’t fuel your soul. So cut the crap and allow yourself to be your happiest self.
Do it for you, no one else
I was a competitive swimmer in high school. And to be honest… I was good enough. I wasn’t great. But I wasn’t bad either. I was just good.
Good enough to be at the fast practice but be the slowest one in the lane. Fast enough to make it to Districts but never States. (If you participated in sports in high school, then I know you understand)
But one year I was at Districts (a competitive swim meet), and I went to the bathroom to change into my racing suit. And something came over me. I couldn’t tell you what it was.
But I had a pen in my bag. And I decided to write “for me” on my body where my suit would cover. So I was the only person that knew it was there.
And every day of that swim meet, I wrote the same 2 words on the same spot on my body.
A year later… I did the same thing.
Back then, I needed a reminder that I was swimming for me. I was swimming because I loved it. Not because I thought I was going to be the best. Not because everyone around me was cheering me on or even counting on me.
I just did it for me. Because that’s the only opinion that really matters.
And it’s true.
If you keep worrying about what other people think or what other people will say, then you’re simply limiting yourself. And you’re not allowing yourself to know true self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Do it for you. No one else.
Not for your mom, not for your fiancé, not even for your kids. Do it for you. Because you freaking deserve it!
This. This right there. That’s the key.
That’s the key to success. And when you get to the point where you are following your heart because you want to instead of living in the limiting beliefs that are given to you, you’ll feel it.
And I’ll be right there beside you cheering you on.
Who are you really?
Now I’m not saying that those things are guaranteed to give you self-awareness.
And I’m not saying that this will take 30 days, 5 months, or even 10 years. Because the truth is, I don’t know how long it could take.
But the more you work toward it, the more you will learn and grow as a person. And that’s a beautiful thing.
There is so much more that goes into discovering who you are and finding your passion and purpose in life. And I have so much to say about that subject. But for now, I’ll leave you with this.
Whoever you may be, with all the faults and imperfections, you are amazing. And you are capable of anything that the world has to give. Don’t ever give up on yourself. Because I’m telling you, this life is worth it. You are worth it. And your deepest most true self is waiting to show the world how freaking awesome you are if you just stopped pushing them away.
Be open to who you truly are. You are unique and that’s a gift that can’t be taken away from you.
And if you don’t mind opening up and sharing your story, please share who you really are in the comments down below! Without judgment, without fear.
We can all connect through stories, feelings, and emotions because we are all human. We have all lived an incredible (even though sometimes challenging) life. And that’s something to be proud of.
I’ll go first.
I’m Cathrin. I’m afraid of things I don’t know. I love dogs for their ability to be present and show love in a way that humans can’t. I find joy in the small things (like potatoes) and appreciate the feeling of the earth beneath my feet. I like drinking wine for the taste of it, but HATE getting drunk. I have faults and one of my biggest ones is my vision of myself. I’m creative and goofy in a lot of ways. I tend to hold myself back with self-doubting thoughts. I sing all the time. Even if someone just says “you” weird I’ll start singing Soulja Boy. I’m working on being present and accepting things for the way that they are at this moment. And I’m imperfect in so many ways. And the next time you say you’re imperfect remember: imperfect = I’m perfect (just the way I am).
So don’t be shy! I can’t wait to learn more about you in the comments.
Cathrin (Cath) creates content that encourages bloggers & online entrepreneurs to be themselves, chase their passion, and create their success online. 1 year after started her blog (TheContentBug.com), Cath left her full-time position working in the digital marketing industry to pursue her dreams of being her own boss. In weekly blog posts, sporadic YouTube videos, and constant talking on Instagram stories, Cath hopes to spread her story and be an inspiration to others who desperately want to change their lives.