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September 2018

The Secrets to Self-Awareness

By ThinkingNo Comments

The Secrets to:


Self-awareness is about understanding more about you. It’s about being aware of your thoughts, feelings, ego, knowledge, skills, experiences, relationships, communication, strengths & weaknesses, drives and behaviours in a situation. Self-awareness isn’t something you do just once or occasionally. It should be an on-going day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment task.

There are numerous benefits to being more self-aware. A good example is that you can use self-awareness to change how you respond to different discussions and events to get better outcomes. It is just about you being aware of yourself and how you influence others. Nobody can be self-aware at all times, but you can make yourself more self-aware.

So how do you become more self-aware? Here’s my suggestions, based on research online and my own experiences:

1. Observation
Observe everything going on around you. Including yourself and how you interact with others.

2. Reflection
Reflect on just about everything. It could be a past experience, or reflecting on something you’ve learned or read. Consider:

  • Who? What? Why? How? When?
  • What were your thought?
  • What were your feelings?
  • What were your behaviours? How did others behave?
  • What outcome did you want? Did you get it? If not, what could you do differently?
  • What did you learn? How can you use this learning in the future?

People have lots of different ways of reflecting. Some good ideas include: meditation, keeping a daily journal and counselling sessions (using the counsellor as a sort of sounding board).

Two important things about reflection:
1. You’ve got to practice reflection to get good at it.
2. It has to become a regular behavioural habit.

3. Balanced Thinking
When observing or reflecting ensure that your thinking is balanced. When it comes to ourselves we are often too critical and only see the negatives. Be fair and kind to yourself. Recognise both the positives and negatives.

4. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is about being able to recognising how you are feeling and the emotions of others around you. A good way of developing emotional intelligence is to replay past situations in your mind and consider what emotions people in the situations (including yourself) were experiencing.

Emotional intelligence will enable you to have more control of your emotions, when/how you express them and being able to influence others on an emotional level.

It might also be worth learning more about body language as 80% of communication is non-verbal.

5. Honest Feedback
Honest feedback about yourself is important for self-awareness. Any feedback should come from a person that only wants to help you to improve yourself. If you suspect that feedback coming from a person is because of their own self-interest or because of another agenda, think carefully about its bias.

You can get feedback from family, friends, work colleagues, customers, practically anyone. Usually all you have to do is ask.

It’s good to know about the 5 to 1 ratio. The person giving you feedback should give you 5 authentic compliments to 1 piece of specific constructive criticism.

The person you ask for feedback may not of heard of the 5 to 1 ratio. So it might be worth discussing it with them prior to asking for feedback. It would also be good if you started using the 5 to 1 ratio when you give feedback to others.

6. List Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate your strengths and develop weaknesses.


7. Encourage Open Questions
Encourage open questions that stimulate debate and discussion in all areas of your life. Debating and discussing opinions is a really good way to become more self-aware and develop awareness of others.

8. Know Your Story
The stories we tell ourselves, especially those about ourselves give insight to all things self-awareness. So know your story. Know how your past influences your now and how it could potentially impact on your future. Listen carefully to the narrative.

If there narrative is highly negative or too critical, you may want to sit down and rewrite your story on paper. Once you’ve done that start telling yourself and others your new story.

9. Life Goals
Write down your life goals. This exercise is brilliant for self-awareness, especially if you do the introspection as you develop your life goals.

10. Coaching
I’ve never had coaching. But there seems to be a widely held belief that good coaching encourages self-awareness. I can see how this would work. Like most things, the more you put into coaching in terms of self-awareness the more you’ll get out of it.

11. Our Own Version of the Truth
Two people can experience the same event, yet have completely different perspectives and views about it. We all have our own version of the truth. Remember this.

12. Psychometric tests
There are many psychometric tests available, each with its own Pros and Cons. Perhaps the most well-known is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) based on the work of Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst. You can take a MBTI test for free and view your results here.

Useful Online Resources
5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware – Harvard Business Review
Ways to Improve Your Self-Awareness – Cleverim
Know Thyself: How to Develop Self-Awareness – Psychology Today

Write soon,



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The Spectacular Shania Twain Live at Manchester Arena

By Friends & Family, Gigs & Shows, Happiness & JoyNo Comments

My mum, her friends and I went to see Shania Twain at Manchester Arena.

My mum and some of her friends had planned to see Shania Twain at the Manchester Arena last weekend. I offered to drive them there, pick them up afterwards and drive them home. I just wanted to make sure they all got home safe.

Then someone dropped out and I was kindly offered their ticket. I felt very fortunate and lucky.

Shania was spectacular. Shania walked through the crowd to the stage like a megastar. The audience sounded rapturous, hands were outstretched to meet hers and flash of smartphones was constant in her face.

Shania’s voice was perfect, her outfits lovely and her charisma shone for all to see. The chorography was reasonable and performed without mistake by backing dancers. The stage light show was fantastic, but the stage set and props were sparse.

Throughout the show Shania appeared to want to get close and personal with the twenty one thousand strong audience. She did this by inviting audience members to the stages in between songs, chatting with them and by allowing them to take selfies with her.

Shania spoke warmly to the audience, as if we were close friends. Here are some more photos from the gig:


The stage lighting was fantastic, although the set was very sparse.


Another photo of the stage lighting.


Shania (1) – Photo of video screen.


Shania (2) – Photo of video screen.


Shania (3) – Shania with a cowboy hat on. Photo of video screen.


Shania (4) – Shania with a cowboy hat on. Photo of video screen.


Shania (5) – I love this pose. Shania with a cowboy hat on. Photo of video screen.


Shania (6) – Shania sat on a step. Photo of video screen.


Shania (7) – Shania sat on a small stage at the back of the arena.


As Shania sang You’re Still The One the audience lit up the arena with the torches on their phones.

Blog soon,



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The Superb Blackpool Zoo – Get CLOSE to the Animals

By Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Nature3 Comments

Yesterday a good friend, her son, two of his friends and I went to Blackpool Zoo. It was raining heavily, but we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits.

Blackpool Zoo is a superb Zoo, I can’t believe I’ve never visited it before. It is the perfect size, allowing you to see everything in a day at a stroll.

Blackpool Zoo has all the animals you’d expect in a Zoo (plus a few more) and you can get really close to them. The animals look happy and well looked after. Here are some photos from the day, along with my comments, click any photo to see the full size:


The Elephants – Indoors sheltering themselves from the rain.


The camels didn’t seem to mind the rain or the temperature that was significantly lower than their natural environment.


Blackpool Zoo has Amazonia an exhibit where you can walk freely in an enclosure with monkeys and other wildlife from South America. It transports you into a rain forest like environment and is where we saw these cheeky little monkeys.


I saw these gorgeous pink birds and just had to take a photo.


A white wallaby. I’ve never seen a wallaby in real life, they’re so cute.


The kangaroos were all taking shelter from the rain. The first time I’ve seen kangaroos. I don’t blame them for taking shelter from the rain, it was bucketing down at that point.


Sea Lions. The photo was a lucky shot, as they were weaving around and in and out of each other quite quickly. As if they were doing some sort of intricate and improvised dance in the water.


A giant in the Orangutan world – just look at the size of his face, never mind the rest of him.

I am particularly proud of this awesome photo:


This photo of a penguin is most probably the best photo I’ve ever taken. The penguin was swimming at great speed, although you wouldn’t have guested. I looked at this photo when I got home and it looks like it was taken by a professional. A total fluke.

Here’s even more photos:


Blackpool Zoo even has an exhibit of Farm Animals. These animals included two Shetland ponies, goats, donkeys, pigs and sheep (photo is of one of the sheep).


A pair of attention seeking otters. Wonderfully fun, playful and liked to upstage one another. I love the spirit of these animals.


Look how close we got to this tiger at Blackpool Zoo. In Chester Zoo I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tiger, let alone been able to get close enough to appreciate its stripy beauty.


Another of the beautiful tiger. Blackpool Zoo have two tigers from what we saw. The tiger is more than slightly moist because of the rain.


Lion: *yawn*
Me: I totally understand how you feel. I’ve walked around Blackpool Zoo all day.


This is how close we got to a Lion. Able to look in its eye and see the intelligence, along with the hunter instinct. He appeared to be eyeing us up as a snack. Blackpool Zoo had two male Lions living in the enclosure together from what I saw. They seemed pretty well bonded and one went and groomed the other while we watched.


Quickly becoming my favourite animal, the giraffes. What I love about giraffes is that every time I’ve politely called over to one (in different Zoos I might add), they come over. They look at me with their big black eyes and some times, if I’m really lucky, they let me take a photo before they walk off.


Another photo of the giraffes. I had politely called out to the one in the foreground.


Essential Info

  • Parking: There is an onsite car park, with overflow parking. It is charged reasonably at £2.50 for the day.
  • Opening Times: Vary throughout the year, click here to see opening times.
  • Admission Prices: Vary throughout the year, but are cheaper if you buy them online.
  • Facilities: Toilets, two gift shops, a cafe, a Starbucks Coffee at the entrance, a small train that takes passengers (for a charge) from one end of the Zoo to the other, an indoor children’s play area (separate to Zoo and doesn’t require Zoo entry), experience days.

Chester Zoo VS Blackpool Zoo
I couldn’t help but compare my many visits to Chester Zoo with my experience in Blackpool Zoo. Chester Zoo could learn a few lessons from Blackpool Zoo including:

  • Have more of the bigger and more popular animals. Chester Zoo’s selection of big and popular animals is pitiful when compared with Blackpool Zoo.
  • Ensure good viewing opportunities for visitors in enclosures. Blackpool Zoo have done this really well. It makes visitors feel that they can get really close to the animals. Chester Zoo hasn’t got this right.
  • Make it realistic to visit everywhere in the Zoo in one day. Currently to see everything in Chester Zoo you need about a day and a half of rushing around.

We had a brilliant time at Blackpool Zoo and I would highly recommend it to you all.

Blog soon,


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Walking in this…

By Happiness & Joy, Nature, PaganismNo Comments

A walk in a natural place recharges me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Here are a couple of photos that were taken on a walk in Rivington earlier this week:


Beautiful. People would find it difficult to believe that this photo was taken in September, in the UK.


An unusual looking tree that caught my eye.

Blog soon,


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