What is Self Awareness?

This foundational episode introduces JJ and Melissa, and tells the history of how The Self Awareness Journey came to be.

May 26, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts JJ Parker. And Melissa Albert's JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years. So, JJ, I was thinking about this earlier this morning before we started our conversation. How this self awareness journey has brought us into so many interesting places. You know, just how we've interacted with people has changed over time, our relationships, our own, our own ability to recognize when we're feeling good or not feeling good. And I think it all starts with our own stories. You know, I think like as we're talking with people, it's really important for everyone to know how deeply we are committed to awareness. And it starts in really different ways. Right, like eye junkies. Yeah. So we're just junkies, you have such a great story talks about when you first started to become aware of the self aware and your self awareness journey. And I think you should tell that Yeah,

JJ Parker  1:20  
well, thanks. Like, you know, when it started for me, I didn't I didn't know what self aware I never even heard that word before. Right. Like, the the idea that these ideas or the things that we talked about today, you know, I was completely oblivious to right. But I don't know maybe like 10 years ago, we were doing 360 reviews at work. And then they were very early and they were very crude. And the idea of a 360 right, is that a survey is sent to all my peers and they give me feedback about how I am you know, to work with and then I Take my own assessment of the week just kind of like the steam you see what happened sometimes they those reviews are terrifying. So I did mine right I got my results back and I remember really clearly on there someone wrote JJ is arrogant. Hmm. I don't like what, like arrogant I don't feel like I have an arrogant like bone in my body let alone come across that way at work even I test right. Yeah, I was just like, wow, I don't I don't really understand that and what I what I wanted to do is just throw that feedback away right away like

Unknown Speaker  2:39  
yeah, obviously.

Unknown Speaker  2:41  
Whatever. ignored.

JJ Parker  2:44  
I really thought, like, why why would that be right? And there was some other ones that weren't quite as shocking to me, but they still is they still were like, Huh, why do we Other people think that I'm acting different, or, or, or my intentions are different than they actually are. That's weird. And then I started talking to other people in the company, and they were kind of coming to me with the same feedback. Like, like, JJ, I got my 360 back. And, like, I just didn't really realize that people thought I was acting this way. And right there, I thought, Wow, look at that gap. There is a gap between what I think I'm doing and what my behaviors are and how I see myself, you know, in the world, and how other people see me. And, and that gap right there. I got really interested in. Yeah. How do we explore that?

Unknown Speaker  3:44  
Yeah, yeah. And you and I,

Melissa Albers  3:47  
yeah, and you and I've been working together for so many years now. I can't even remember when our conversation started. But for me, I had such a tumultuous childhood. I moved around a lot and I didn't have a lot of stability or security. And as a result, every time I was like the new girl in a school or I was thrown into a situation that I was not really confident in, which was most I would put on sort of this air, this sort of way of being that I thought is what other people wanted. But over time it really didn't work because how I thought I was acting really wasn't coming across that way to people either. Like I was trying to be the super nice like, I got this I'm in control. I'm fearless. And so I was coming off with this sort of bravado and, and it wasn't actually how I felt. But I was acting that way thinking that's what other people wanted me to be or that I was fitting in by acting a certain way. But as I got it Older that does not it didn't work. Like it was creating a gap for me like I could tell that people were not taking me the way that I thought I was behaving. And I remember many times in my professional career in the early days where I would have conversations with customers and and then every single time I got in my car after that conversation every time I would completely pick it apart in my mind like I should have said this differently or did I do okay with this and I was in constant self judgment. And and even though I acted just fine on the outside, and I thought it was working. There was this gap inside of me that I didn't feel I was being my best self. And even if I had been acting in my best self, I never really could even stay there or feel like I was becoming I felt like that wasn't. I felt like that would be too exposing for me to be authentic.

JJ Parker  6:06  
Yeah, that sounds. I mean, that sounds. That sounds hard, because you've got an internal conflict. Yeah, but no.

Melissa Albers  6:13  
Right. Right. And, and I think as we are talking about the self awareness journey, I started to notice with my clients over and over and over again, I mean, I average between 20 and 30, phone calls and meetings a week. And I'm meeting with people all the time. And and I started to notice consistency in those feelings consistency in these patterns, both in the one you described where you're not at early on, not even aware that you're being a certain way or it's coming off a certain way. And me kind of having an awareness about it but trying to force or power through it in a different way. It's like Everybody has these feelings inside, you know, everybody has these feelings of, maybe I'm not good enough or maybe maybe I'm just fine and I don't have to dig into this even though I'm uncomfortable I can live with being uncomfortable because it's not really bothering anybody else. And, and I started to notice more and more of that pattern.

JJ Parker  7:21  
But it does bother other people.

Melissa Albers  7:23  
It does bother other people and really bothers you. Yeah. Most importantly though. Yeah, it's it's your it's how you feel inside. And so I want to just take a couple minutes to describe the self awareness journey in its entirety, because I think that that will help sort of facilitate our further conversations and and as we do more and more podcasts, and we're so excited as we're building our tribe here, but I really think that I would like to just say, the both the examples that you and I have given are very, very common. examples. And in my role of constantly wanting to help people, there are patterns that emerge over and over and over again.

JJ Parker  8:10  
So this is, you know, when you said I want to describe the self awareness journey, this is the work you've been doing in working with clients kind of seeing the patterns, and then you've kind of extracted what you think are the common patterns and routines, right. And you're calling it the self awareness journey.

Melissa Albers  8:34  
Yes. Yeah. And, and right, and like you and I have said, there's no silver bullet. This isn't, you know, this isn't unique to the world. Like there's, there's self awareness comes in every package in every form. I was talking to my dad about this last night, and my dad said, My dad said, He's been in leadership his whole life. And when I was explaining this to him, he said, Well, it's just common sense. And I said, Yes, but you Why don't people use common sense then? And he said,

it's not all that common. That's funny.

But anyway, right, that's exactly right. And thank you for that. So I just like

JJ Parker  9:15  
her. I like her double wordplay here. It's like everyone is on a self awareness journey themselves. Right? Yeah. And, and you've kind of created a self awareness framework, kind of a way of thinking through things a way of being right to help, right, you know, the healthier your clients and basically everyone else you interact with,

Melissa Albers  9:38  
right? Yes.

JJ Parker  9:39  
Yeah. A long journey. Right.

Melissa Albers  9:41  
Right. Yes. And I and thank you for bringing that together. Because it's such an important framework for us to begin and the work that you and I do together and sending out is just in the in the absolute intention of helping people because what happens is like I would be sitting in meetings, And I would notice, as people would talk, they had the exact same feelings that you and I were just describing, and they were really stuck. And as I started to talk, I would like, take out little napkins or little sheets of paper. And I would sort of say, you know, here's this, and here's that and, and, you know, what happens if you're in this space? And what happens if you're in that space? And, and at the end of the conversation, every time people would say, Can I have that paper? And I was deeply embarrassed because I have really terrible handwriting. And I would be like, Well, okay, okay. And I started to notice the more and more that I was having these conversations, the more and more a pattern was emerging. And the more and more I was writing things in the same sort of manner. And so it became really abundantly clear. After several several months of doing this, you know, I often need a small rubber mallet over the head before I get something

JJ Parker  10:56  
I think I have one of those napkin drawing Or around here?

Melissa Albers  11:01  
Probably do I mean, is on the back of menus and restaurants and

JJ Parker  11:07  
oh, yeah, I think I, I remember when you first told me about, you know, the very beginnings of the idea that you were creating kind of like self awareness map, right? Yeah. And you did about an hour we were at the bar, and you did work on an app, which is gonna show you this thing. And you're like,

Melissa Albers  11:32  
that's right.

And I think you said that too. Can I just actually you didn't say, I was like,

JJ Parker  11:40  
I just take that

case, I need it later.

Well, it's great. I mean, it's really great. Like you said, you know, you and I, oh, I don't even I don't even want to know we've been working on this topic for a very long time, years and years. I want to say decade. It can be right.

Melissa Albers  12:03  
Yeah, exactly. Right, exactly right.

JJ Parker  12:06  
But it is really cool to see this kind of framework emerge. Like when you started talking about it the first time when when, when I started seeing the napkin drafts of it, to where it is now, it's really powerful. It's simple. It's common, like you said, it's kind of common sense like it as is common sense. But it's really powerful. I really like the way you've put it together because it's very approachable, right? And a lot of times, you know, in my experience when I talk to people about self awareness or their personality traits, and you know how they show up to other people, some people just get a little lost. What is this guy talking about? Well, that's what sports please.

Melissa Albers  12:50  
Right? Yeah, no, it's true. Actually, that's part of this whole process is, is that when you all of a sudden have some sort of awareness of something that you have been feeling or A way that you were acting that you didn't really know was being so obvious on the outside. Most of the time, there's so much judgment laced around the awareness. And that's the piece that makes me really sad. Because people will have this sort of way of acting like this is an example you know, if you're if you're, if your workplace or your home life or something. There's something in there that you feel you have to act outside of your own natural way of being, I call that the actor self, you know, where you just you can't be authentically yourself for whatever reason. And the sad part is, is that almost all of us feel multiple times a day, if not all the time during the day, that we have to be outside of ourselves. We can't be completely who we are. And we spend a lot of time feeling anxious or defensive or just unsatisfied. You No, like a worry, there's all these feelings that go along with that. And you just feel out of center, like out of balance. And, and then if someone is working with you, or if you're working on yourself and you're trying to get better, and all of a sudden you have this awareness that you feel Off Balanced. The sad part for me is that most people then can't be okay with themselves enough to dive in and understand what's happening. What they do is they go into guilt or shame, they shame themselves or they feel guilty that they're acting a certain way. And they just

JJ Parker  14:38  
be like, like, I shouldn't feel like this. I shouldn't feel angry. I shouldn't feel upset.

Melissa Albers  14:46  
Right. Right. Right. And I don't like feeling Why do I always feel like when I'm, you know, with this group of parents at the sporting event, like I don't fit in with those parents. I feel like I'm a totally different parent than that and why can I just fit in like, why can't I just suck it up? Why do I feel so uncomfortable? There must be

JJ Parker  15:06  
three kids, I go to awesome.

Melissa Albers  15:12  
I don't think we realize how much energy we use in living in our actor selves. I don't think we realize how much energy is expended. And the benefits of having more self awareness to me, well, there's millions and millions and billions, but just the top right, it's like having more energy to just be you on your best day. I think when we're operating from our centered space, we are able to create more we're able to be in more productive environments that we make, we have better relationships and we're, we're really satisfied with who we are. We're very content with who we are. That doesn't mean that we're not constantly wanting to grow, but that we're coming from a place of being deeply satisfied with the person that we are and as as I have these conversations. Some people are so afraid to even face their own their own awareness or their own insides, that as I discuss things with them, they can't even see it. Like they almost have I almost have to use examples of people around them. Like, do you notice when this person is acting up a certain way? Do you notice when this person postures a certain way, and it's super easy for them to see someone else experiencing that, but they're so afraid of what they're going to find for themselves that they, they can't even see it in themselves the first time. So yeah, understanding like, what that what that looks and feels like to live in this world where you feel like you're constantly having to pretend certain things is a really common,

JJ Parker  16:46  
if you've been living in that world for a long, long time. It's probably really hard to see anything else.

Melissa Albers  16:52  
Yeah. And then the minute that you do see something else, instead of being able to just be with that and like figure out like Okay, what do I do with this because now that I know this I don't I always say now that you know something you can't unknow it you know everybody kind of gets in this journey they get a little scared sometimes like oh my gosh, like now that I know this but now when I go and act you know do the do these things or I'm in the situation I'm afraid I'm going to forget and go back to how it always was and you just can't because once you have an awareness that something's in you and you can name it, then it's it's so powerful and you can do something with it. But most people at first think I'm just a terrible person like I can't like I'm just not good enough like everybody else is okay doing this, why can't I and understanding how to release some of that is so powerful, releasing the self judgment and just being so

JJ Parker  17:49  
let's Ah, I kinda want was wondering can we like let's walk through the the example that you said earlier about about maybe like going to one of your kids sporting events and feeling awkward around the parents, maybe that's like one many of us can relate to. But like, let's just walk through how that scenario plays out on. Yeah, the software in this journey because, you know, to start, like, I've been in that situation, and it's like, like, I'm fine, right? We're driving to the soccer field, you know? Yeah, look into our 90s rap tunes and everything's great. We get their kids run off and now you're just stuck. And I feel it feels awkward and I idle chitchat and then all of a sudden, it's just like, everything's off balance.

Melissa Albers  18:47  
Yeah. I think that there are certain triggers that put people in this state of being out of balance and being in that act yourself and situations would be a really key trigger. And what you're describing is a perfect one. I too had the same thing. And you and I are very different personality types, and yet my kids were both in hockey, and we would go on these hockey weekends. And I will, I will tell you that Friday morning, I would wake up, and I would instantly have anxiety. Because I did not like going on those weekends. It was packed with kids and people the whole weekend and the hockey parents were really into doing a lot of drinking. And I, I don't have a problem with drinking. I drink too, but I'm not as into it as that whole group. And it made me feel very uncomfortable. Because a lot of times those parents would act in ways that I was embarrassed in front of the kids or they would you know that they would start acting differently with each other and it was I just, I would get so anxious and stressed out about it.

JJ Parker  19:58  
So it starts with that trigger. Right, like a trigger happens. Yeah, in some way it's a situational or that becomes within you right? That you're reacting. Right? I'm experienced from the past or whatever it is, right? Yeah, for sure.

Melissa Albers  20:15  
So as soon as

JJ Parker  20:16  
as soon as they move into this act yourself, right, you're, you're kind of a because of the trigger. They're trying to act a certain way. You're trying to not let things bother you. You're trying you're trying to stay

Melissa Albers  20:28  
under the radar.

JJ Parker  20:29  

Melissa Albers  20:30  
you're trying to stay under the radar and, and the focus at that point becomes your personal focus at that point really becomes I want to just look good on the outside. And I want to just protect myself from standing out or defend myself if people start giving me a hard time because I'm not getting hammered. Right, or whatever.

JJ Parker  20:53  
There's right we could come across in a couple of different ways like you can be become really reclusive, right or You might become really agitated. Yeah, maybe externally. It's like, Hey, I'm gonna shut this whole party down because I don't want to be part of this. Right?

Melissa Albers  21:10  
Right. Right and and what it feels like when we're in this triggered state is it feels the whole environment feels different. The whole environment feels much more dramatic. It feels like there's a lot of competition. And you are picking up on all of those negative vibes when you're in this triggered state. And you no matter what you're acting like on the outside, I think the really important thing that I would want to talk about here is not how you act on the outside to overcome it. It's really not about that. It's understanding what is this trigger to begin with? Why am I feeling the way that I'm feeling and then understanding how much energy is is leaving me just trying to get through the situation emotionally. The amount of energy that I'm expending to simply act like I'm part of this group or whatever act my normal self, but I'm highly triggered, that energy is a constant burn. And it makes me not feel good. And and it makes me It could make it for me, I would get crabby. And I would feel myself getting short, I'd get short with the kids. And they were so excited to go on these weekends. I mean, it'd be so much fun for them to be with their friends and their teammates for the weekend. And I I just couldn't feel like that at all. So once you're in that triggered state, the feelings that you are working so hard to manage, are, are not, they're really hard, right? They're they're really, really and they're trying to tell you something. And instead of us typically being able to listen to what they're trying to tell us what we usually end up doing then, like I said, is to make ourselves really wrong for it. Well, Bob doesn't have a problem in these events. You know, Tom always loves these events. Mary always doesn't

JJ Parker  23:06  
hang out. I don't know why I'm such a misfit here like, you know, yeah.

Melissa Albers  23:11  
Yeah. Well, the truth of the matter is, is that if we're operating more in our authentic selves, and I want to just describe that a little bit, you know, when we're really operating from what I always call home base, like when we're really coming home to ourselves, when we're in our centered place, where everything that we're thinking and feeling we are acting on. It's like in alignment, all of those things are kind of working in alignment. It's so much easier to be in almost any situation because you're no longer concerning yourself with how you are interacting with other people. You're more concerned with how you're interacting with yourself, and then interacting with everybody else becomes much easier and has a lot less impact on your ability to feel centered and good. content. And so just really seeing and we're using this example of, you know, kids sports, but this could be in any situation at all, it could be a work, it could be at home, it could be with your best friends. It could be in any kind of if you're doing any sort of work at church or you're doing anything else like that, anytime you're with people. So it's interesting because you go ahead.

JJ Parker  24:27  
No, I was just gonna, you know, thinking through things, you know, it's, you know, you get triggered you kind of become actor self, you know, an actor version of yourself. Obviously, being your authentic self and being in that home base is where we want to be right because it's effortless and it feels good and it's, it's where we want to spend most of our time. How do you get yourself back from being an actress being knocked off center back to your Back to your home base like, right, you know, sometimes this is leave a situation maybe. But really like, what's interesting is this idea that maybe even if we're still in that situation that with around those triggers, we can actually control that, or Yeah, ourselves remove a little bit.

Melissa Albers  25:22  
Yeah, I think there's two things. The first part is again, being more aware of ourselves. So how do we do that? The first part is like triggers are not a bad thing. Like we all hate triggers. We don't want to have triggers. We don't like being triggered. And yet triggers are our greatest gifts, in my opinion. And the reason I think that is because triggers are showing us either in our bodies or in our hearts, how we're feeling. You know, like when you feel triggered, you usually can even feel it in your body. You know, you feel like there's an uncomfortableness there. The first part of this is being able to understand that you were triggered and understanding that the trigger is showing you something more the trigger is simply bringing your awareness to something that is inside of you that you have not yet addressed, explored and released. So like the trigger of the what we're talking about, like for me, in this example, I was being triggered in those events, because it was a very deep seated reminder of how it felt when I was in group settings where I didn't feel like I fit in. And so here we are, again, even as a grown up with my own kids. It's the same kind of situation. And that same little niggling feeling inside is right there. And now, after you've had a few years of experience of that feeling, you actually can get kind of mad like I don't I am sick and tired of feeling like this. Aren't I old enough? Can't I stop, you know? So there it is. There's the cycle. So I think the first part is really being able To understand what it is that triggers you, not that you've been triggered. If you've been triggered, that's a great thing be happy that you've been triggered because it's, you have the awareness now something is coming up for you to be able to explore.

JJ Parker  27:15  
Yeah, it's like an opportunity for you to get to know yourself better and Ryan. And help you have is like a, it's a waypoint on your map.

Melissa Albers  27:29  

JJ Parker  27:31  
on your journey to self awareness, right. So every one of those is a

Melissa Albers  27:35  
gift. And I think, yes, and I think that as you are able to and as we are able to explore our own individual triggers and understand where they are coming from. This is where a lot of people will spend decades in therapy and a lot of money, trying to feel good. They just want to feel good and My philosophy is and this is like a lightning rod philosophy. I don't really think that that works. I don't think that works. I think what works is for us to recognize I've always acted this way, because I've had this feeling inside of me and I and if I can trace it back enough to understand where that feeling started, it's okay, I can make the choice to not I can make the choice to release that feeling and not have that feeling anymore because it served me but it doesn't serve me anymore. And now I'm ready to move past it. And I'm so thankful that I've had this trigger because it shows me and that's just part of the self awareness journey. Once we've done that, once we've understood our own triggers, the next part is to really deeply go into or not really deeply that sounds scary. It actually doesn't take a lot when you think about it doing doing about doing it like this. There's some reflection and and support you have to give yourself in this journey. But that's just the first part. apart. Once you've done that, you'll notice cues in your emotional body. Your mental, spiritual and physical bodies will give you cues about what your feelings are. And I think as a society we've gotten so far away. Understand understanding our feelings and honoring our feelings. We have been taught to ignore our feelings or push them away or whatever. And eventually they come out they don't go away your feelings are your greatest opportunity to help guide you on your path. And in this journey, being able to have that relationship with your feelings and feel like they're really honoring and helping you so that you can be your best self. I think

JJ Parker  29:52  
I really like that perspective on feelings because you're right, so many people want to push us stuff away or, you know, sort of brush it off or not address it. But I like changing the perspective around feelings and triggers to say, hey, these are here to be really helpful to you.

So right, wait, ignore him.

Melissa Albers  30:16  
Yeah. And there's and there's nothing wrong with the fact that we have been doing this forever. I mean, again, I'm not finding judgment in it, I'm just suggesting that there's other ways that are better and easier, and more that provide more contentment and more happiness. You know, just, and it's a whole topic in and of itself. But if you think about when we are born as children in the United States, the majority of us, I would probably say, 99% of us, maybe that's too high, but have been taught to constantly focus on the five senses that they have, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, hearing, but there's the six cents. That's the intuition piece, right? That's You're feeling peace. We are not a society that has cultivated that. We are a society who said, If you can't do one of these other things, if you can't see it, taste it, touch it, smell it, whatever. It's not real. Don't pay attention to it. Any of those feelings that you have, if they're not favorable, just put them away, because you need to just be part of whatever what's going on here. And so as we've gotten older, less and less, have we been able to check in with those feelings and recognize that those are really good things. You'll find people in the business place that will say, Oh, you know, they're too emotional. They're to this. They're to that I'm not suggesting we're all crazy emotions. What I'm suggesting is, is that when you're tapping in with your feelings, in addition to your brain, you have superpowers you don't even recognize

JJ Parker  31:56  
that sounds awesome. I would like some super hours.

And so that was a really great overview. I really like a lot of the ideas and the the shift in perspective that, you know, that that we've been talking about. So

I look forward to exploring all those little things.

Melissa Albers  32:20  
Yeah, and I would,

I would just close this as well to that, that says that this self awareness journey is really a roadmap. And it affords you the opportunity to come wherever you are, where whatever perspective you're coming from, and teach you and help just through the experience of all of us to help understand how some of those internal things have worked. And at the end of this process, well, I don't think we ever end in growing and self awareness, but this process identifies very easy steps to check in with yourself and learn how to refocus your thinking refocus your energy to ones parts and pieces of you that feel better and bring you back into alignment with yourself. So I really hope, I really hope that it helps people because I'm, I'm so excited about what it's done for me.

JJ Parker  33:22  
I know it's changed me. I know it will help people. You know, it's, it's helped me I I'm a believer, and yeah, and just getting it out there and helping people explore. I think there's a great, you know, a great mission.

Melissa Albers  33:43  
Yeah, me too. Cheers to the next conversation. Thanks.

Discussed in this episode

  • JJ and Melissa’s personal stories about their own self awareness journeys
  • Melissa’s Coaching model became The Self Awareness Journey
  • A roadmap to understanding the process of self awareness

Let's get real

"I was coming off with this sort of bravado and, and it wasn't actually how I felt! But I was acting that way thinking that's what other people wanted me to BE. The sad part is that often we feel we can't be completely who we are."
- Melissa

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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Join The Self Awareness Journey to learn how feelings, when explored, inform us of our thoughts which ultimately cause our actions. When things don’t go as planned we often blame outside circumstances, people or timing. But most of us are unaware of our core feelings so we are never quite able to manifest our true desires.

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