The Joy & The Pain of Waking Up

How many years of your life have you spent asleep?

I’m talking about having automatic reactions to whatever life throws at you. The wake up, go about your day, sleep, repeat cycle. And no, I’m not trying to make you feel bad about living on auto-pilot. We all have brains designed to save energy.

But we have also developed very powerful personalities with predictable patterns. Just think about that for a moment.

Consider your best friend. You can probably predict with pretty high accuracy how your best friend will react in most circumstances.

And – spoiler alert – those close to you can predict your typical reactions. Because your personality is running the show most of the time.

Essentially, you are asleep to your personality’s influence on your day-to-day life.


Our personalities are like wearing a pair of glasses. They filter how we see the world. But they are also invisible to us most of the time.

We see through glasses. We don’t usually look at the glasses on our nose.

So waking up is like looking directly at our glasses. Noticing the glasses. Inspecting the glasses. Observing how they alter our view of the world.


When you start to wake up to your personality, it’s exciting. Clouds lift. You can see more clearly.

“Of course that’s why I react that way.”

“No wonder I always do that.”

“This explains a lot.”

You start to understand underlying motivations. Patterns are more obvious and predictable.

But, in my opinion, the joy of waking up is relief. All those years of wondering “what’s wrong with me” start to make sense.

It can lead to a softening. Being kind to yourself. More compassion.

“I’m not broken or defective. It’s my personality trying to protect me.”


On the other hand, waking up is not all sunshine and roses.

Yes, it can bring greater self-understanding and grace. But, it can also bring about some resentment and anger.

Because, here’s the thing: you can’t outrun your personality.

So now you are awake to the influence of your personality. You start to witness it in action. And you might not like what you see.

In other words, you might wish you could drop the unhelpful parts of your personality. But it’s a waste of your energy.

Fighting your personality will simply create suffering. It’s with you for life.


Being awake is a choice. Doing the work to understand and observe the impact of your personality is a choice.

But you can’t choose your personality. And you can’t choose to keep the good parts and drop the bad ones.

However, when you choose to wake up, you are choosing to be more present. When you are present, you can rise above your personality. You snap out of auto-pilot and act with greater intention.

Yes, the pull of your personality is strong, but presence is stronger. The more we choose to be awake, the easier it is to access.

As my Enneagram coach says, “once you have started to wake up, you will inevitably go back to sleep at times, but never as deeply”.