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. Ive never really been one to think about being conscious and being awake i mainly used them as an escape from reality through drugs. Im starting to gain more of that conscious energy but its hard while fighting this urge to give in to being ignorant. How do you stay strong on a day to day base where your not leaning on these things we as humans have become so used to. Im just realizing now how much my mindset has affected me now and how my mindset now affects my future. Its a scary awakening and all new. Just hoping you might be able to spread some light. Thank you for your time.

    1. Hey Jax, I hear you! Yes it’s very easy and convenient and enjoyable (in some ways) to “lean on these things” – losing ourselves in what feels good in the moment, but perhaps doesn’t serve us overall long term. It is certainly not all roses and glory being “awake”, many times I have wished I was ignorant! But nevertheless the upsides for our wellbeing and happiness in the long run are immense… once we learn HOW to be conscious in this world AND at the very same time make peace with life and the world as it is. We start to derive our joy and highs from new things. I have to add though… that being “awake” doesn’t mean you miss out on enjoying all that life has to offer, sampling and savoring everything. It’s all about BALANCE and being conscious enough to know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and choosing consciously to ensure you enjoy all of life and take good care of your mind, body and soul at the same time. In terms of where you’re at – mind mastery is powerful… learning how your mind affects you and how you can CHANGE your mindset to benefit your life (making peace with the past through new perspectives about it, accepting the present and designing a future that inspires you and believing in it, thinking positively). As you go about doing that, you’ll notice that your new mindset may not align to the day to day habits you have, and so you start to take small steps, one day at a time, to adjust your ACTIONS to match your BELIEFS/THOUGHTS. When a fresh new mindset aligns with fresh new action, life goes to a whole new awesome level! I hope this helps, and we have loads of resources here for helping to master your mind, e.g you might enjoy the positive affirmation audios as an easy starting point. Sending love to you. Bernadette

  2. Bernadette, I am in tears – of joy – after reading this article. It came to me at the right time, such a pivotal moment in my journey toward enlightenment. Thank you for sharing your experiences, as they give me hope and ensure I’m not alone. Tonight I typed into Google, “feeling crazy for being conscious” because that’s exactly what I’m experiencing! I feel so painfully in touch with everyone and everything around me, and you’re absolutely right it can be isolating and one can be consumed by the darkness unless one is choosing to see the light. I can’t believe I was asleep for 22 years! I am twenty-three now, but spiritually I just had my first birthday. I have lost my identity, because my attachment to the “self” has shifted as I have evolved. In fact, it’s so slight that it resembles a hangnail you just want to rip off once and for all so a new, healthy nail may replace it. Enlightenment, as Eckhart Tolle describes it, is a growing process. But there was a clear change for me a year ago. In February of 2019 I had a manic episode which turned into a psychotic break. I wound up in the hospital after not sleeping for three consecutive nights. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II among many other disorders, including Post-traumatic stress and Borderline Personality. I am not denying these diagnoses, but I believe they arose out of learned, maladaptive coping incongruent with my true nature. It was caused by how I was nurtured during my childhood and growing up. This was all before I “awakened.” After being discharged from the hospital and undergoing medication changes, intensive outpatient therapy, and more frequent counseling: I began viewing myself as mentally ill and feeling like everyone around me also perceived me as this sick person. When I would discuss the spiritual truths I had identified and realized through my experiences, people convinced me I was losing touch with reality. In a sense, I am. But that’s not a bad thing; it doesn’t mean I’m not grounded. I’ve just found new ground to stand upon. People will judge what they don’t understand, and I don’t blame them because I’m still trying to make sense of what happened to me – or should I say, what happened for me. It’s frightening embarking on an unknown adventure, especially when you’re alone with your own soul and it’s still such unfamiliar territory. But instead of convincing people I’ve woken up, I allow them to think whatever they want and call me by these labels because I can’t control their mindset or actions, and I don’t want to because that’s wasted energy. I can only know in my heart that I feel this heightened awareness they think is mental illness. I do have a family history of these biological flaws in chemistry resulting in depression, anxiety, and many of the disorders I’ve previously named. I do wish the people I hold closest could experience this with me, but no one can force internal change, including the person themselves. We just receive it from the Giver when we’re ready for it and do what’s best for us – seek consciousness. We can live by example for those around us, and radiate our truest selves to them in hopes they will undergo the same transformation while accepting the reality of where they are. I myself have experienced much suffering due to mental illness. But I really don’t think that’s what this is – some sort of demon taking over my mind. It’s something else. I feel coherent and sane and like I’m balancing on a tight rope elevated from its surrounding plains. I feel a bit unstable, mainly because I have all these words in my head clouding my vision of oneness, harmony, and peace. This is the best way I can articulate what I’m going through right now and have been for the past twelve months. It’s so strange – the concept of time. I’m understanding the root of all these social constructs I blindly followed before, and I’m amazed by how loosely I abide by them in comparison to pre-awakening. There is only Now, the present moment. Most people reading this would probably think I’m some crazy hippie – which I don’t necessarily disagree with. But I don’t necessarily agree with it either because no words can define me, and no opinion of someone else is a reflection of who I am. Because who is “me” anyway? Me does not exist; only I do as this little soul in a big world. I say all of this because you are a ray of sunlight. I thank Source for sending your loving energy into the Universe and am grateful to walk with you alongside many other awakened individuals. Namaste.

    1. Caroline, so awesome to connect with you, thank you so much for your message, and I totally understand what you’re sharing. I hear you. I see you. And I wish you peace, grace and flow on this journey we’re all on! With love. Namaste! B 🙂

    1. I hear you! It can be tough going through these things, it helps to know you’re not alone and it’s normal to experience these right. I went through all of these things myself and it’s definitely temporary and the growth pains are well worth it! Peace your way. Love, B

  3. Hello I have a very important question. I’ve had a very stressful hard busy life but I’ve always wanted to learn how to become spiritual, but my lack of motivation help me back I felt end only 2 days ago something happened to me that woke me up for real coincidences that could not have happened and I decided it was time to start my journey. Everything finally felt like it was coming into place and once I started doing my research on how to get to these levels of consciousness and then hopefully reach the highest level of consciousness I learned that I’ve already made it to that level a consciousness I was able to go back and find my experiences that I went through with each phase. I’m really confused on how I got to this level without knowing I did it but there’s no doubt that I am in that last face according to article I read. Is this normal.

    1. Hi Angel, everyone has different paths, so there is no “normal” as such. I know people who don’t consider themselves spiritual at all, and they are wise, present, evolved people. There are people who don’t learn or proactively go looking for how to become conscious or evolve, and they demonstrate amazing qualities of evolved human beings. So yes, it’s totally possible to natural grow in your awareness and understanding through every day life events and not realize it 🙂 Hope that helps! B

  4. I went scrolling today, looking for advice on how to deal with this exact problem and I found your article. I have always been the drop off for other people’s sufferings, which is fine when those people are your young children. My four children range in age from 39-45. They are adults. intellectually, I know they have their own journey and this has become my mantra. They, along with my husband, are drama junkies. After 45 years of taking all things on the chin, I am at my breaking point and I’ve said as much. A life time of accumulated stress and becoming more conscious has made me very fragile. I know that I bear responsibility for this. I also know that equanimity would go a long way in solving my problem. I know life should be observed fully and without attachment. For me, (and probably most people), that’s a tall order. I am at the point where I can’t even be fully present during meditation practice and often, I will pummel myself through 20 minutes of silence…well, implied silence. I am very aware of the ebbs and flows of life and like all other things, this too shall pass, however, this has been sneaking up on me for months now and it’s reached a boiling point. I am growing weary of waiting for the tide to turn. Do you have any suggestions for someone who now finds their meditation practice a real struggle? I know it’s the answer, but I’m having trouble getting back on track.

    1. Hi Wendy
      I hear you! Sending much love. And I would suggest perhaps as a way to soothe and support you in your meditation practice, that you perhaps use that 20 minutes to do guided meditation experiences. I do silent breathing meditation though at times when I’ve struggled I’ve turned back to guided relaxation meditations which have been immensely helpful for calming the body, nervous system, mind and supporting a greater state of calm, to then be able to transition back into silent meditations with more ease. Just an idea. I have some guided audios on my site and Youtube channel if that is helpful.
      With love,

  5. Additionally to what Bernadette has said about being conscious is that it’s a Journey. It never ends so far you keep the eyes and mind open. The more you feel the oneness of yourself and nature the more nature opens herself up to you. Everything that flies above you, that crawls beneath and around will teach you one thing or the other. The future is made known in the present e.g birds show you what to expect in the immediate future. Whether negative or positive. You will know if you are about to receive a visitor or an angry one. Everywhere around us, there are messages but the mind and the eyes must be trained to see with open heart. Messages are given to those who are ready to receive. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s pure darkness. Darkness in its own has its own knowledge.

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