Gisele Bündchen on Self-Awareness, Challenging Your Thoughts and Paying Attention to Your Inner Voice

“Comparing yourself with another person is pointless,” writes Gisele Bündchen, one of the world’s most famous supermodels, in her memoir: Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life (October 2018).  “If you spend time comparing yourself with someone else, the only thing you’re doing is setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. You won’t ever feel good enough.”

For someone who has worked her way to stardom in an industry that is notorious for comparing and measuring others against superficial standards, these words might come as a surprise.

But, for anyone who has assumed they know all there is to know about Gisele based solely on her photo spreads or marriage to the New England Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady, they’d be sorely mistaken.

Far from exemplifying the stereotypical shallowness associated with modeling, Gisele’s memoir reveals a woman who is strikingly honest and humble, with a depth of character that is hard to come by even for those outside of her profession.

Full of profound wisdom for navigating what she refers to as “The School of Life,” her memoir is an insightful read for those engaged in the painstaking task of enhancing their inner life.

“[L]ife unfolds in unexpected ways – the only constant is change,” she writes in one chapter. “But for anyone to succeed and thrive in their outside life, they need to have a strong, stable inside life.”

With that in mind, below are several insights she offers for creating a rich inner life:

Tom brady's wife

We alone are responsible for our lives and how we choose to experience our reality:

“The first breath we take when we enter our body as newborns we take by ourselves. So is our last. Between those two breaths, we have some important decisions to make. We can’t choose the circumstances of our lives, but we can choose how we experience them. At the end of our lives, do we want to think back on our own bad attitudes and behavior? The moments we acted out of cruelty, or jealousy, or fear, or said something unkind to someone else? Do we want to walk through life weighed down with our pockets full of heavy stones?”

What we give our attention to, how we think, and what we think about is hugely important:

“We all need to be careful with where our attention goes – and our attention always begins with our thoughts. Once we believe something is true, it becomes closer to coming true. If we have a poor opinion of ourselves, every encounter we have will be shaded by that belief. If we come into situations with confidence, our positive self-esteem will impact everyone around us.”

In different words:

“Your thoughts can destroy you or your thoughts can catapult you to new and better places. But whatever you choose to do as a result of your thoughts, make sure you do it for the right reasons. When you do something to satisfy yourself, something you really feel will make you happier, it’s a wonderful thing. But the moment you do something to just please other people, or society, or the culture, it can backfire on you, as I know very well.”

Just remember:

”If you keep giving your full attention to things that make you fearful and anxious, you will become more fearful and anxious.”

Gisele book

The victim mentality is futile:

“…I’ve always believed that when you start seeing yourself as a victim, you surrender your power, and it can be hard to get it back. From the practice of yoga and meditation, I was able to see things from a different perspective. I began to ask myself: Gisele, why is this situation happening for you? There’s an opportunity here – what can you learn from this? What is the lesson here?


How am I going to deal with this opportunity that life has given me to learn about myself?”

So is being easily offended:

“Avoid taking things personally. People will say things to you – and about you – but try not to let their words affect you. Other people’s words have almost nothing to do with you and almost everything to do with them. Instead, ask yourself: What do I really want? And why? Be as clear as you can about your intentions.”

And jealousy doesn’t get you anywhere:

“Life can be magical. But living it well takes work, focus, patience, compassion, determination, and discipline. Jealousy, or comparing yourself with anyone, is a toxic recipe. Jealously only produces feelings of never being good enough. I believe we are – each of us – singular in our own way. We each have something unique to offer, which only we can give to the world.”

Gisele Bündchen life lessons
Gisele during Green Nation Fest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2012)

One of the most important things we can work toward is greater self-awareness:

“In the end, the longest and most important relationship any of us will ever have is with ourselves. That’s why I believe self-awareness is so important. We all need to learn to become comfortable with ourselves as early as possible, and to grasp that we are responsible for who we are.”

Self-awareness fosters discipline:

“If discipline doesn’t come easily, what’s the best way to create it? It begins with self-awareness, and self-awareness is a process. It’s not something we’re born with. It’s something we develop over time. I know this much: the better you know yourself, and what you’re good at, and what brings you joy, the easier it is to focus on what you want to manifest – which in turn makes it easier for you to manifest what you want.”

And provides access to our “inner voice”:

“One of the greatest benefits of self-awareness is the access it gives us to our own inner voice. We all have one, even if at times we ignore it or remain totally unaware of its existence. Our inner voice is very private and unique to us. Its purpose, I’ve always believed, is to protect us, help us stay true to our values, and urge us to do the right thing. I believe each of us has a higher, more evolved self within. Often, if we listen to our inner voice, we come to realize that our higher self already has the answers to our questions.”

Gisele model bio
Oskar Metsavaht, Gisele Bündchen and Paul Hawken at OMINA 2018 in San José, Costa Rica

Learning to pay attention to that inner voice is vital:

“Once you recognize and appreciate the things you’re good at, it becomes much easier to focus on what exactly it is that you want to make happen and, even more important, why. That process begins with paying attention to your inner voice – though first you need to make sure that voice is really yours. Not the voice that tells you you’re supposed to do something or act in a certain way. Not the voice of your mother or father. Not the voices of your teachers. Not the voices that trickle down from society, from your peer group, or from any organized belief system. Not even your inner critic, the one telling you all your faults. No, your inner voice is the one that more than any other gives you a kind of knowing.”

“Sometimes there’s no clear explanation why something feels right – but I believe you still need to follow what your inner voice is telling you.”

At the end of the day, the things that matter most in life are the relationships we form:

“To my way of thinking, there is nothing more amazing than going through life fostering meaningful relationships. How great does it feel when you can really be there for another person, and then, years later, without any expectations, that person is there for you? How incomplete would our lives be without those relationships? At the end of the day, it’s not about rushing to get to the destination; it’s about enjoying the journey along the way, and that journey is made up of moments, experiences, and interactions with other people – and sometimes animals. That’s what creates memories. That’s what really matters.”

And remembering that time is the greatest gift we have – and can give:

“Time is the biggest gift any of us is given, and we all have a limited amount of it. The biggest gift we can give anyone is just that – our time, our love.”

Because we’re not really that different from one another:

“At the end of the day, how different are we from one another? We’re all students in the ‘School of Life’ on this earth. Our campus is a tiny blue dot floating in space. And who are we, really, in the face of all this immensity?”

Gisele Bundchen husband
Gisele with the 2015 “Champions of the Earth” winners, the UN’s highest environmental accolade, at a ceremony during the close of the Sustainable Development Goals summit

The questions to ultimately ask ourselves are:

“In the end, each one of us is responsible for our own life, and for the reality we are helping to create. We each need to decide what kind of human we want to be and where we ant to focus our attention. What do we believe? What are values we want to live by? What kind of life do we want to have?”

In other words:

“Imagine what would happen if each one of us knew ourselves as fully and deeply as possible. And that we led each day of our lives consciously and compassionately, without projecting our emotions onto others,or allowing our egos to distort reality. If everyone did whatever work was necessary to get to know themselves better, and took responsibility for being the best self he or she could be, I believe the world would be a different place, a better place.”

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  • I really enjoyed your piece on Gisele! She has so much wisdom to offer it is hard to pick one of her quotes to focus on. For today I think I will meditate on her quote: “Life can be magical. But living it well takes work, focus, patience compassion, determination, and discipline.” Thank you for this beautiful website and all the work you put into it!

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