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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

Why Self-Awareness is Key to Better Workplace Relationships and Stress Management.

Most of us at some point experience certain stresses related to our job and work conditions. Many of us suffer in excess of what we can handle and so we look for remedies and solutions to help us deal with it better. As a meditation instructor stress, and all that goes with it, is the main reason I am given as to why clients want to learn to meditate or practice Mindfulness. When pressed for the causes of stress many list; too much of a workload, not enough time, difficult workplace relationships, personal problems and feelings of inadequacy or being undervalued. All of these are genuine problems but the focus is on the environment and not on the reason we experience it in this way. Marshall Goldsmith in his book Triggers explains how our environment is often missed when it comes to understanding our stress. However, I want to go one step further and say that without truly knowing ourselves and our motives for our reactions we can’t really deal with our stress or difficult relationships effectively. Knowing that the environment is a stressor is very useful, but understanding why it is, is much more important as it allows us to deal with an issue before it arises rather than looking for a solution after the fact.

So how do we develop greater self-awareness? For me meditation and NLP have been the path to greater self-discovery and still are. In those slow moments as I sit in contemplation I start to notice the ideas I have about myself and why I feel uncomfortable in certain situations and with certain tasks and not others. As a remedy for stress, Mindfulness practices are excellent but for me really getting to grip with my triggers and understanding why I feel the way I do has given me greater stress relief. I have found that when I feel pressed for time it is because I think I need to get everything done quickly or to a specific deadline. My fear of appearing incapable in the past stopped me from admitting I couldn’t get everything done or asking for help, or simply telling the people in my life that they would have to wait while I prioritised some things. My fear of not being accepted or letting people down or no longer having value or significance to others caused me to feel stressed, obligated, and put upon. This would lead to poor health, fatigue and lack of sleep, irritability and sometimes eventually tears. I was so afraid of being judged for not doing what was expected of me I would cause myself to ignore my needs so that I could live up to what others expected of me.

When it came to difficult relationships my challenges often came if I felt inadequate, under prepared or feared making a fool of myself. The reality is, this was all my own ideas and conditions and no one else’s. Without knowing the thoughts that were driving my thinking I was helpless to change any of these issues and so I looked to solutions rather than prevention to deal with my problems. I never realised that too much time around people exhausted me so I would blame the super-charged types for being too bubbly or fast paced for me to cope. I wasn’t acknowledging that sometimes that isn’t a problem for me. I rarely said no to things because I thought it would look bad when I really needed to take time out or be alone. When I started to notice this I began to say no sometimes and so when I did give people my time or attention they got it all and not the version of me who was in my head complaining about how difficult things were or how tired I felt. As time went on I had less and less difficulty with people around me and my skills of empathy and rapport improved because I didn’t need to be in my head anymore. My skills in NLP improved too because I was better able to be present and observe those around me.

So what does this mean for you? Most of us are fascinated with how we think and who we are, if we weren’t there wouldn’t be so many of those quizzes on Facebook asking us to ‘Let’s Play’ so that it can tell us about our personalities. We wouldn’t label ourselves, or our behaviour, because we wouldn’t need to, to understand ourselves. We would simply know why we do things and how to do it differently if we needed. We also wouldn’t use practices like Mindfulness to fix our stress, we would use it as path to self-discovery and identifying what we are thinking and how this effects our relationships, work and home-life. So much of our negative feelings come from feeling helpless and lacking control but our freedom comes from knowing that it is linked to our perception of ourselves and the environment around us, and that we have the capacity to change that the better we know who we are.

For information on my one to one and group coaching as well as corporate programmes on Self-Awareness and Mindfulness as a tool for self-discovery email 0868373582 or check out my website Thanks for reading, Elfreda

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