Navigating Transitions + Tough Times

3 signs you’re having a spiritual awakening + what to do about it

January 31, 2020

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The other day I met a friend of a friend at a get together…


We exchanged pleasantries and then she asked me that all-too-familiar question.


“So….what do you do?”


I’ve always found this a hard question to answer…and truth be told, always dreaded it.


In my corporate days I’d say…


“Oh I work in commercial/corporate real estate”….


….even though I had a legitimate job at two different Fortune 500 companies, I’d feel a little embarrassed to say what I did because what I was doing didn’t feel like the REAL me.


I always felt like I was performing a “grown up” role and hence felt like a fraud and an imposter.  


I didn’t know it at the time, but I was trying to be the perfect woman, and I felt the subconscious pressure to be more impressive than I really was….


These days I answer the question “so what do you do?” depending on the scenario I’m in and how interested I am in engaging with the person in front of me….


Truth be told, I’m a lot more relaxed because I don’t feel like I’m defined by my roles that I play as an integrative life coach or mother or any other role. 


I am me. I’m more than just what I DO and the labels that apply to who I am.


And that goes for you too. 


YOU are more than your credentials, roles and labels.


The real you is actually undefinable and not so easy to put into words.



When I speak to my community and my clients, they typically are:


…. Facing a big life decision + asking big questions about their life and work.  


…. Feeling disconnected and stressed out in this carefully crafted life that they’ve built.


…. Wrestling an inner call to pursue something else or something more either for themselves and the greater collective.


They often say something along the lines of…


“If I make a change or decide to explore something “else” what would I say when someone asks me…”What do you do?”


I’m embarrassed to say “I don’t know who I am anymore” especially if I don’t have this [job, title, career, role, etc.]


Can you relate? 


I know it seems silly to worry about what others will think of us admitting we’re lost. But it’s honest. 


We ALL have or will at times worry about what others will think. 


That’s normal. That’s human. Truly it’s hardwired into our DNA.


I’ve been there and I know it’s rough. 


Getting honest and kind to yourself is the first step to move through this discomfort….because once you’ve got the niggle that something isn’t right, it doesn’t go away. 


It can’t be ignored. 

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Nature Image4

If you’re feeling that niggle that things aren’t right and want to answer the call to something else or something more (even if it’s undefined), I’m going to dive into how to know if this niggle is a spiritual awakening and more importantly what to do about it.




Firstly, let’s define a spiritual awakening…


For me a spiritual awakening happens when you feel the call to move beyond the mind and your egoic self that purely identifies with the labels and titles you have for yourself e.g. your name, your title, your roles, what you do, what you have, what you think etc.


A spiritual awakening happens when you feel the call to honour your heart, those nudges and the “being” side of you that exists at your core. 


I call this your REAL self. 


This part of you has a unique way of being in the world that is inherent and true for you. 


When you honour the call to “something else” or something “more” you feel more aligned, congruent and really you.


I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t always feel easy, there are hard moments (for sure) but how you’re showing up, what you’re doing, the next steps feel “right” in your body.


Spiritual awakenings don’t have to be religious. 


They’re not pre-ordained to a select chosen few. 


I believe they can happen quietly and subtly. And anyone can awaken when the time is right for them.



My personal spiritual awakening



Woman working on a laptop to make a career decision.


I had my spiritual awakening when I was in the thick of my corporate career at my “supposed” dream job.


Whilst on a business trip to India, I woke at 5.30am for a conference call where I was blamed for a project going in the wrong direction. 


I burst into tears after the call, did the ugly cry and let everything out. It wasn’t pretty.


Long story short: I had my wakeup call moment on that trip and finally started questioning my life and how I was showing up….


At the time I was over-working, saying yes when I needed to say no, believing I wasn’t enough and deep down had a belief that I had to prove myself. 


I was deeply unhappy. Armouring up pretending like everything was “fine”, avoiding my emotions and soldiering on. Numbing the pain with alcohol, sugar and mindless TV. 


My mind told me I HAD to be a corporate woman climbing the ladder and yet my heart ached for more meaning and something that felt more purposeful. 


I just felt so lost as to how to find my path….


In hindsight this confronting conference call, this life dilemma, this “WTF am I doing with my life?” moment was a blessing.


It made me commit to figuring out what I was here for and how to make it happen. It got me to wake up and stop living on auto-pilot.


I vowed to figure out my path and do something else even though I didn’t know what something “else was.”


In hindsight it was a blessing though at the time, rest assured, it felt like I was crazy!


I ultimately took a sabbatical, became a freelancer as a strategic consultant, got married and fell pregnant and a few years later transitioned into coaching.


I’d love to tell you that everything is rainbows and butterflies now that I listened to my heart and that I’m hugely successful and happy all the time. 


But I’ll be honest, I’m STILL feeling out out my path and I honestly believe I will be till the day I die. I know that my focus right now, won’t be the same forever and that’ll I always be feeling into the next experience….


I believe that this way of living is how it should be. If we knew what was going to unfold life would be boring! What would be the point?


Despite all the unknowns, I know deep in my bones that I’m more of the real me than I’ve ever been and I’m excited about where the future is taking me.


If you’re navigating leaving it all behind to answer the call to something “else” or something “more” that’s not clear or defined…..I feel you! You’re not alone and you’re in the right place.



3 Signs You’re Having A Spiritual Awakening + What To Do About It


Sign #1: You’re starting to get honest with yourself 


Oh boy! This can feel like the hardest step. 


Oftentimes, before you start to get honest with yourself, it can feel like a dark night of the soul. 


The trigger for getting honest with yourself can be set off by:


  1. a seemingly simple event (like my confronting conference call) or 
  2. big life event (like the death of a loved one, significant break up, traumatic event, accident or serious health crises) or
  3. something in between  


No matter what the trigger, it’s a moment where you’re finally getting honest and admitting that things aren’t “OK” or “fine.”


This is when you start to admit the truth of your situation to yourself and allow yourself to open up to feel more of the discomfort in your body…..


So many of us live in a state of armour and numbness…avoiding all feelings of pain at all costs.


Got a headache? Take a panadol.


Can’t sleep? Take a sleeping pill.


Feeling anxious? Pop a Xanex.

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Nature Image8

Whilst there’s a time and place for meds and intervention, there is also a place for simply feeling and sitting with the discomfort and pain, appreciating that it may just be trying to tell you something. 


In my case, when I was in India on that business trip and had my dark night of the soul/awakening moment….the things I got honest with were the fact that:


+ I was on the wrong path


+ I wasn’t being myself 


+ If I didn’t make any changes I’d be in trouble (physical and mental health wise)


Was it easy to face? No. 


Was it necessary to set me straight? Absolutely. 


In that moment of getting real and honest, I finally took personal responsibility for the situation I was in.  I got to work to figure out the big questions of:


“What am I here for?”


“What do I want to do with my life?”



Sign #2: You’re experiencing a desire to move beyond the material and craving more meaning and purpose


When you start to awaken, your priorities shift. 


The single focus isn’t just about getting the next career title, the bonus, the salary increase and all the material things that come along with it (the apartment, the car, the holidays etc). 


Note: I’m not saying that these aren’t valid goals and important. They ARE. Let’s be real, we gotta fund our lives and enjoy ourselves along the way. 


What I AM saying is that when you awaken you realise that life is about more than just the material world we live in.


When you’re having a spiritual awakening there is an urge to explore and (re)prioritise your own values and live in alignment with them. 


This looks different for different people…


For some it means:


+ spending time, energy or money on causes and/or charities that contribute to the world. 


+ taking up different, more philanthropic initiatives within the firm they work in. 


+ having to change careers, relationships or health regimes completely. 


There is no “right” way. Only the right way for you. 


However this may be showing up for you, when you’re having a spiritual awakening there is a stronger call to make new decisions that are aligned with your own values and move into making a difference and a greater contribution. 



Sign #3: You’re seeing that things aren’t so black and white and starting to appreciate a fuller, more colourful picture.


Ahhh this can be the most interesting sign of all!


Growing up we’re taught that things are binary and finite.


Right or wrong.

Black or white.

Male or female. 

Left or right.


I believe that life isn’t so neatly delineated. There are shades of grey. 


I actually believe that we’re here to appreciate and discern the paradox that is life.


Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Nature Image9

The most fundamental of all being that:


  • Who you are right now is perfect (you’re smart enough, beautiful enough, resourceful enough, moral enough etc) AND
  • That you’re also here to learn, grow and evolve


When you have a spiritual awakening you begin to be able to hold opposites together (like the one above). 


You also start seeing the interconnectedness of things and realise that we are all mirrors for each other. 


When you have a spiritual awakening you begin to see that what we believe and feel in our inner world is reflected back to us in our outer world.  


Granted, this isn’t the whole picture…we unfortunately live in a world that has systemic injustice, inequality and discrimination. Which I believe is something you also start to see more of when you realise how connected we are and how we harm each other in conscious and not so conscious ways (but more on that in later posts). 



So there you have it…..the 3 signs you’re having a spiritual awakening.


Sign #1: You’re starting to get honest with yourself 


Sign #2: You’re experiencing a desire to move beyond the material and craving more meaning and purpose


Sign #3: You’re seeing that things aren’t so black and white and starting to appreciate a fuller, more colourful picture.


Now I’d love to hear from you:


+ Do you resonate with any of these signs?


+ If so, which one? 


Leave a comment for me below! I’d love to know. 


If you’re having a spiritual awakening you’re probably asking… “so what do I do about it?”


Firstly, what I want you to know is this:


+ There is gold in what’s happening and as painful as your life, your work, your health, your relationships may be right now, I believe that you’re being nudged back onto your real path.


+ You’re not alone. Many of us are experiencing this with you. Nothing is “wrong”. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be.


I’d also like to invite you to join us in the Soul Aligned Professional Women Facebook Group to share your experience. In the group we talk about all things soul alignment, doing meaningful work, recovering who we REALLY are and so much more. You can join the group HERE


I’ll be hosting a live discussion on this topic on Thursday 28th May. You are SO welcome to join us!


Remember you’re here for a reason — beyond merely surviving and grinding.


With love,



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