4 Signs (& Painful Side Effects!) of Being Conscious

Being conscious is where it's at.

After all – who wants to be unconscious?! Not me!

But, here's the deal… when we first start waking up and becoming conscious it can be a PAINFUL process.

And even when you feel like you've been conscious for quite some time and have settled into a new way of being and living based on that conscious awareness, it can STILL be painful.

I've heard the same phrase so many times from people all over the world, including out of my own mouth…

“Sometimes I wish I could just go back. Ignorance is bliss.”

But, trust me, ignorance is not bliss.

And life is not better when lived unconsciously.

Plus – there's a very big, beautiful, bright side to this process of becoming conscious. It makes any pain MORE THAN WORTH IT.

My take on the whole process of waking up and living consciously is this…

  • Unconscious living is painful, with very little upside.
  • Conscious living might be painful SOMETIMES, but it has ALL the upside that this amazing world has to offer!

So, if you're experiencing some challenges as a result of being conscious, you're in the right place. I'm gonna give you a few tips from my own first-hand experience.

Believe me… I feel ya! I've been there.

Waking up and becoming more conscious can feel like being pushed through the eye of a needle.

I'd say 60% of my waking-up experience was like a glorious miracle dawned upon me and enveloped me in a warmth, love and profound sense of FINALLY figuring out what life was about.

And the other 40%?

Well, it was painful.

Below is what I experienced in that phase of becoming conscious, plus tips for how to deal with it.

Perhaps you've experienced the same signs and side effects, or are going through this now?

1. Loss of Identity


And this is no understatement.

Being conscious meant I could no longer deny the fact that some things, places and roles I was playing just didn't make sense to me anymore.

They didn't feel like who I was, and I couldn't take it any more.

But in this realization from dawning consciousness, came another more important question. “If I'm not this, then who/what am I?”

I could no longer identify myself by the job I did. I couldn't identify myself with the roles I was playing in life, or by the things I owned.

And I felt ADRIFT, without an anchor. I'll be honest… there was a certain sense of possibility and excitement with this, but there was also TERROR!

Like… I better hurry the heck up and figure this out because otherwise I'm just a drifting loon.

I need something to “hang my hat on”. I need answers. I need to know who I am and where I belong. People keep asking me and I don't even know myself yet, so how can I answer them! YIKES!!

I felt like running away and hiding.

Knowing what I was not, wasn't enough. I needed to know who I was and where I was proverbially going on this spiritual/consciousness journey.

I ditched one sense of identity (the old unconscious, ego driven life) only to try frantically to find myself another one. LOL!

MY TIP FOR YOU – Eventually I realized there is no “new identity” to find. Once you stop trying to be anything or be anyone, or find anything, and you just discover your own self, you come home.

This loss of identity we go through when becoming and being conscious, is just “par for the course” and part of the journey.

There's no way around it, over it or under it. You gotta go right through it.

And as you do, you will discover the truest sense of who you are.

It's not a new “identity” per se. It's just the truth. It's just who you have always been, but might not have realized.

It's you meeting your own soul.

2. Loneliness

It was a lonely time for me as I transitioned to being conscious.

I had people all around me, and yet there might as well have been no one.

Well, actually not quite… I was lucky that I had a couple of people close to me who were taking a similar journey and so they could understand my existential angst and my transition phase.

That made a huge difference.

I came to realize during this time of change, as I let go of my old identity and began the journey to discover my true self, that there is no way around it… it can be lonely! Facts are facts.

And, partly, you just have to deal with it.

No one else can be in your shoes with you feeling your feelings, having your thoughts, going through those personal reflections.

No one else can walk the path for you.

And no one else can tell you what is going to happen exactly, or when.

And that creates a sense of isolation.

What I came to appreciate about this process of becoming conscious, and being conscious in daily life, is that it's OKAY and normal to feel a bit “on your own”.

I wonder if that's part of the awakening journey… that we're meant to feel this isolation?

Why? Well maybe it forces us to go inside ourselves for what we need, and to connect to a Higher Power/the Universe/Source for what we need (with trust and faith).

This very process of feeling lonely while surrounded by the busy-ness of life as it's always been, but not feeling a part of it in the same way anymore, is maybe what we have to go through in order to LEARN.

We have to learn how to be in this world in a different way – no longer asleep and attached to illusions, but awake and able to find peace from a higher state of awareness.

MY TIP FOR YOU – You eventually find where you fit in the jigsaw puzzle. And you DO fit. It just won't be in the exact same way as before, you have to adjust your own perspectives in order to find your new groove and flow as a conscious human being. You come to a place where you will feel connected to everyone and everthing, no matter where you are. You come to a place where you can be totally alone, and yet never feel alone. That is the beauty of awakening, of spiritual truth, of knowing who you TRULY are, and knowing your inherent connection to a higher power (whatever you personally relate to that as… Source, God, the Universe, Divinity).

3. Regret & Beating Yourself Up

When you first wake up, often things can feel all roses and glory. A beautiful experience of the oneness of everything, and your place in this world/Universe.

You begin to see how powerful you really are, and what you can create and do going forward in your life.

And then suddenly something dawns on you…


You think of all the times you did things unconsciously, and made mistakes, and behaved in ways there were egoic and negative, how you did or said things that harmed yourself, or others, and how you might have avoided your own potential and opportunities, sabotaging yourself and keeping your life stuck.

Regret kicks in.

You cringe.

And the mind starts harping on about how you should have known better:

  • “If only I had known then what I know now…”
  • “I shouldn't have done that…”
  • “I wish…”

MY TIP FOR YOU – Our waking up happens RIGHT ON TIME. For some reason, we each wake at a pivotal point in our life journey, and we might not know why it happens when it happens.

Some culmination of experiences and learning takes place BEFORE becoming conscious. Then that wisdom from the past and the new consciousness feeds the remainder of our life journey for our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical evolution.

So we're required to make peace with the journey we had up until the point we woke up.

I went through my own “Regret/Cringe Phase” and I cleaned up a few things in my past that didn't sit well with me from my newly aware state. And then I put it behind me and decided to only look forward.

It's a choice we make…

Own your past. Take the learning. Lay it to rest. Look forward.

4. Seeing Negativity Everywhere

As much as you start seeing beauty and miracles everywhere when you become conscious, which is a delightful blessing, you also become acutely aware of EVERYTHING.

Very few things escape your attention.

As a result, while you do see more of the previously unnoticed miracles of life, you also now see EVEN MORE negativity than ever before.

It seems like the challenges in the world and negative people rise to the occasion to make themselves more known.

Of course, all things are always there. Equally the positive and the negative.

But when you're becoming more conscious you have to remember this and not get lost in frustration about all the negativity in the world. Particularly when it feels like that negativity is slapping your beautiful conscious face each day!

More suffering on TV, more negative people behaving badly, more unconsciousness in those you love… you want to scream out to the world to wake up with you!

But alas, that's not how it works.

The challenge is to be awake in your life without expecting others to be too.

And to find peace and acceptance with the negativity in the world, alongside the reality of beauty and miracles you have stepped into.

And to know that both can co-exist, once you let go of making the negative “wrong”.

MY TIP FOR YOU – You will get what you look for. So if you get sad or frustrated with the amount of negativity and unconsciousness you see around you, it's easy to start looking for it everywhere and therefore seeing more of it.

Instead, look only for the consciousness. Look only for the awakening. Looking only for the beauty and the miracles. If you look for it, you will see it.

You will of course see the darkness too, but you look upon it with your light, and you tell yourself,

“This is not all there is. There is consciousness everywhere and I choose to see that.”

I'd love to hear from you. Scroll down to leave me a comment below.

Let me know if you resonate with any of these experiences, or perhaps other challenges you've encountered and how you dealt with them.

Sharing is part of what makes this community so awesome – your experiences and insights might be just what other people need to hear to help them on their journey!

Love, Bernadette

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60 Responses

  1. Awesome article – I actually lived side
    Effects without realizing it… for me the hardest part is having people I love so much not being awaken…
    Also I’m a new mom, I’ll need to figure out how to explain and put into words – beautiful thing is: I trust that it will come naturally;)

  2. What a wonderful article -thank you! It especially warms my heart to know I’m not alone! I can relate to each one of the challenges and I’m currently loving me and trusting my truth! I’m also making changes in my life that align with my calling and authentic self. As for the negativity, I have been working on pivoting into positivity. I use positive quotes, stories, music, or find the opportunity to spark positivity by doing an act of kindness.

    1. You’re welcome Mari, and I loved reading your message. 2 things stood out to me and I’m nodding my head with a big smile on my face. (1) “Currently loving me and trusting my truth”… AWESOME! And (2) pivoting into positivity! Inspiring. Thanks for sharing and sending best wishes for your journey. Bernadette 🙂

  3. Wow all four resonate so closely and I personally have yo yoed over a number of years feeling as if I was odd or out of sorts in some way and would then bolster myself up with positives in any form but with no finding and belonging to a tribe of like mindeds other than online missed the experience of sharing in a physical community. There comes a time where one literally self sabotages knowingly creating pain so as to force movement outside of ones comfort zone due to there being no growth or seeing ones potential seemingly fading away as time continues to pass. It is not the doing that is difficult but the deciding, especially when so much literature is solely focused on following your passion/purpose when one has no idea what that is. Or dreams where through hardship one has forgotten whilst only being in survival mode and although grateful for life itself having come through to the other side that emotion of joy is not present or felt. Faith and trust sit at my feet but still no movement is happening. It is like a spiritual overload/overwhelm which creates an exhaustion that makes one wish to step out of the frey away from all responsibility, deadlines, the constant of push and soft sell and one size fits all solutions. So much clarity feels like a burden. So adrift, chosen isolation as seeing so much negativity one wishes to isolate just to protect oneself. Where to from here I wish I knew. Thank god for my animals ????

    1. Hi Andreae, I hear you. And yes I know exactly what you mean about “thank god for animals”. They just love unconditionally, are totally present, and we can just BE with them in that moment, and feel peace. I’ve felt similar ways to what you described in past times, particularly being in overload/overwhelm on the journey of discovery, and not having answers. Thankfully that all fell away over time, with a focus on acceptance, presence and allowing. I send warmest wishes to you, Bernadette

  4. I so resonated with all of this B and only just recently was thinking that I was going wrong on the journey. Having read this and couldn’t believe that it’s really where I’m at on all that you said, I now feel very relieved and that this is a normal process. The tips were fab. Loved the tip about not trying to find and struggle with s new identity. Great to read and know there are like minded people out there and I’m not going mad!!

    1. You’re definitely not alone, and not going mad! 🙂 It happens for so many of us, I know where you’re at. Go with the path, where you’re at is not the destination, it’s just a transition and the necessary growing pains of that evolutionary process you’re experiencing. Love! B

      1. Thank you for sharing and writing this to help others and all replies for your experience and insight. I have been dealing with all of the same, feeling like I’m not even from here, like there is no place for me (the true me). I find solace in breathing deeply and running outdoors when dealing with my family and their human behavior that must jive with everyone else in the world. I also am an empath and when worries about money come up (husband) which are never dire straits, I become emotionally drained. I have to always speak intently yet at a level that my family won’t make fun of (they do playfully joke about my personality) which is a way I am able to “teach” my growing boys (teens and twenties). I shall always have a dog companion as my copilot (walking, running, hiking) it is my happy place next to such a pure soul filled with love outside in nature. I also am lucky to be in a profession that drives me…working with young children with and without disabilities in a very busy public school community of high need. I connect best nowadays with children and dogs and friends of the like:)

        1. Hey Jo, thanks for sharing this, and I hear you… so many of us find it soothing, connecting and joyous to be in nature and with the animal kingdom… pure free flowing love energy!! How wonderful you get to work with young ones, and be a presence of love around them. Sending good vibes your way Jo! Love, B

  5. Love this B, it made so much sense. I keep waiting for me to reach an A- Ha moment where everything tfits into place or if i do this thing I will get closer to what i want to be. Its good advice to stop pushing and just let it unfold. Also to be aware thats its not going to be rosy all the time. Thank you for your wisdom xx

    1. Hey Jackie! Yes, definitely go with the flow of it (forcing only tends to bring more challenges). And from my experience, it’s definitely not rosy all the time but the process of waking up and living consciously is SO gratifying even if challenging. Big love to you!! Bx

  6. I’m so glad I found this article, thank you Bernadette! I’ve been struggling with depression, having all of this feelings and the last few months my inklings that I’m experiencing some kind of awakening have got stronger and I’ve completely changed my mindset of hating the feeling of being lost and out of place and I am coming to accept and be thankful that I am having this experience, to wake up. I’ve been thinking about it on an intellectual level which hasn’t always helped, but I feel like I need some kind of guidance; I guess that is just part of the experience, looking for answers outside when the truth is they can all be found within. What a revelation! Also, thank you to the other people commenting! It makes me feel less alone in this experience.

  7. I am exactly in the space you’ve written about and going through exactly the same reactions. While I have been very successful in my previous career and my current one, much of both increasingly seem inconsequential. I’m looking for spiritual and personal growth now — and in ways that I have unconsciously, perhaps even consciously, denied myself in previous decades of my life. I’m glad to be in this space, as uncomfortable as it sometimes is, because without the discomfort there is now growth. Thank you for your thoughts and extraordinarily helpful article.

    1. You’re so welcome Bill, and thanks for being here, for sharing an insight into your journey. We appreciate having you in this community. Love and best wishes to you for your journey! B 🙂

  8. A great article B! Yes, I’ve experienced all of the above. It was messy, confusing, sad and terrifying all at once but so well worth it.

  9. Wow! I resonate deeply with everything you have described, particularly the comfort in the loneliness. I have always filled the silence with staying busy and social outings in order to avoid being alone with myself. I was afraid to find myself in this time of what felt like limbo. The thoughts would scream and I felt powerless to them so I’d fill all of my time to become closer to myself with other noisy, busy events. The fact is, once I got comfortable being alone with myself and embracing all that I am, I found a beautiful new connection to God. Where you say you can be alone and you need nothing at all, that’s finally where I am. It’s such a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing genuinely! I love all that you do ❤️

    1. Hey Alysia (beautiful name!) – so glad this article resonated, it’s incredible how we can all end up having such similar experiences, but totally unique in our own ways. It’s nice to have community to know others go through the same thing. Thanks for sharing your experience and for being a part of this community. Much love! B

  10. Thank you so much for this. I’m turning 40 at the end of this year, and am trying to make some changes but find it difficult and very alienating at times. I’ve always been a people pleaser and it’s a hard habit to break, but it’s gone too far to where I almost forgot how to stand up for myself and it’s affecting my closest relationships in a way that feels negative. But I’m trying to remember it will take time to undo some of the unhealthy patterns. Thank you for clarifying the ups & downs of waking up, this gives me hope to keep doing the difficult work and be true to my “woke” self!

  11. I am so going through that right now. This article couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just lost my mom and I am seeing people for who they really are for the first time. Life is about seasons and change. Thank you,M!

  12. I feel these all signs but only sometimes. But I always have thoughts of living unhealthy since last 2 to 3 months.
    Is it also the sign of something?

    1. Hi Ayushi, I’m not sure on that point, but perhaps just notice what the thoughts bring up and ask your intuition for guidance. I’m not sure if I understand the type of thoughts specifically, but it is quite common when “waking up” to start to notice things, people, situations, behaviors, choices and lifestyle that is out of alignment with the deeper part of yourself – so you start to notice things that no longer feel healthy and good to you (that can be down to the food you eat, the places you go, the lifestyle habits you have, the people you’re around). This can lead to making healthier, positive choices that support you going forward. 🙂

  13. I needed to listen and read this today. I love your videos and articles, they are very uplifting. I have been on my journey for awhile, yet I have had a setback and questioned myself, my thoughts, my ideas, my ability even to become what I know to be my truth. I am one of those that tend to force it and lose patience with myself for not “being” who I want to be. I have felt and live each of the four side effects you have identified. One other, that has become apparent to me, is that those of us who are trying to follow this path, often find these wonderful opportunities to learn and live more consciously, but it all costs a great deal of money! It seems counter intuitive. Classes, retreats, books, life coaching, yoga classes…I try to focus on the free information that is available, but when you do not have a local community, it is challenging. Even the travel to other locations…well, it goes on and on. That is one aspect that nobody seems to talk about, why is becoming enlightened so expensive?

    1. Hey Monroe! I hear you. It’s interesting, and yes in the exchange of energy and resources it often in our world does involve money. But, that said, it absolutely needn’t hold you back or stop your growth at all. I remember someone in our community reaching out to me from Bangladesh a few years ago and telling me that he had used every single free video, class, resource, audio etc I have provided on the website and transformed his life. So where there is a will there is a way. From experience, while it’s fun to go on retreats etc and programs are definitely transformative, it’s not the only way 🙂 It comes down to the individual, the right resources and the consistent, diligent application of them. Also – do get more into a local community of like minds, for that supportive environment, try MeetUp.com as it’s a great website for meeting like minds, where you can meet in person on topic specific interest areas including meditation, spirituality, personal growth etc Hope that helps! Love and best wishes, Bernadette

  14. It is very frustrating to be in this phase, especially if you have been in it for a very long time. I have known for 50 years that I didn’t belong where I was. I have always felt that I have accomplished what I was put here to do. I haven’t ever been able to shake that feeling. Maybe it is my ego talking.

    I see the connectedness between the larger world and the small details of life. And I see the pain of people, and hear their cries -especially at night. It is so hard to listen to, I have to put earphones on in order to cover it up.

    The worst part is the negativity around me, and the fact that others don’t listen to what they are saying. It is so negative. We have been given so much -why can’t we share and get along?

    1. Hi Diane, I hear what you’re saying. I talked about this in a video I did a few years ago – about how we might not feel like we belong here, or that we’re done what we came to do, but actually, if we look at it from a spiritual/higher perspective, the fact our hearts are still beating and we are here… means a higher power must know better. While we are spirit first, body second, and in this world but not of this world… right now we are here. So it’s the question “What is available to me right now, with this experience, feet on the ground, to learn and grow still, to contribute and make a difference?” Maybe what is left to do, is to find peace and joy in being here, and peace in the face of the challenges, and to role model how to be that and do that, for others to see and benefit from too. Who knows?! But there is something for sure. As long as we are here, we are meant to be here and the work is not done. Well – that’s my own personal perspective on it 🙂 I send much love to you!! B

  15. Thank you so much for posting such a realistic approach to mindfulness. Most people forget to mention there is a much darker side to being “awake”. The truth is there is no light without darkness and no great saga without a villain. Thank you.

  16. I recently lost my husband of 36 years. I will never be the same as we were such a great couple. I feel like half the person I was before and have been struggling to find the new me. This article was very helpful. Thank you

    1. Dearest Dee, thank you for sharing your situation and my heart goes out to you, with much love and sympathy. I wish you peace and flow as you unfold in this phase of living you, in a new way, in this next chapter. We are grateful to have you with us in this community. Blessings to you, Bernadette x

  17. This was beautifully written.Very honest and straightforward – it feels like wisdom to me:)
    Even though I am also going through my own unique experience – what you shared hit ever singe mark. I am very grateful to you for writing about this

  18. I had a split-second experience when I was 20 year old. I experienced a new perspective of life. It was SO overwhelming that it took until I was in my late 50’s to understand that I was in a new consciousness. I am perceiving reality from an amazing perspective that is more real. What I would like to know is, how do I find others who know this. I would love to talk in-person with someone else who knows this.
    By the way, the hardest part for me is realizing that true reality is SO SO SO SO SO SO SO… AMAZING! No one, who hasn’t woken up to this, could imagine what is really going on.

    1. Hey Susan, there are SO many people who have gone through the same thing of experiencing a consciousness shift. There are oodles of online forums, Facebook groups, communities filled with people interested in this same topic (even to make connections where you can then talk offline), as well as many in-person groups I’m sure in your own community who are into conscious living, higher perspectives and see reality in a different way as you are seeing it. It’s all about getting out there and networking, researching, and taking steps to find those for yourself, but they do exist!! 🙂

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