6 Benefits Of Learning How To Be More Self-Aware In A Relationship
It’s so much easier to focus on what the other person is doing (or not doing) in a relationship. Is s/he following the rules? Communicating to your liking? Reading your mind? Being a royal pain-in-the-you-know-what? Did it ever occur to you that learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship could be the key to getting the answers you want?
If you bypassed the Oprah years or have always diverted your eyes from the self-help section in the bookstore, self-awareness may seem enigmatic. You have surely heard the term, but it’s not exactly breakroom fodder.
So, if you’re not actually living self-awareness, you probably don’t know all it can do to improve and elevate every area of your life.
Let’s explore the concept of self-awareness in the context of relationships.
Here are 6 benefits of self-awareness and learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship:
Self-awareness helps to anchor you in the present.
No relationship can move forward or grow when even one partner is holding onto the past. Whether it’s a past relationship or a recent hurt in your current relationship, staying “stuck” in unacknowledged, uncommunicated feelings is crippling to intimacy.
By learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship, you become attuned to the moment. And this mindfulness, in all its forms — mental, emotional, even physical — allows you to experience and therefore respond to what is, not what was.
Self-awareness gives you objectivity about yourself.
At the heart of self-awareness is the ability to view yourself with curiosity, objectivity, and absence of judgment. You’re “seeking greater understanding” so you can make better choices, knowing that better choices lead to better experiences and better relationships.It’s only the self-aware who can look within and say, “That wasn’t a good decision…I want to do better in this area…I need to reach out for help…I love ‘this’ quality about myself but not ‘that’ quality.”
Objectivity allows you to more calmly, thoughtfully receive feedback about yourself and discern when and how to make adjustments (and even apologies).
Self-awareness can help you be more accountable.
When you care about learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship, you inevitably take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, words, and behaviors. You are, after all, acting with intention to “know thyself” better.
And that means you’re not always going to like what you learn.
But the beauty of self-awareness is how it feeds upon itself. You desire to be more self-aware. And you answer that yearning by stepping to the plate with attention to and responsibility for everything you contribute — consciously and unconsciously — to your relationship.
And wow, does that make your partner less guarded, less defensive, and more inclined to follow your lead!
It also puts the odds in your favor as a couple if you ever have to heal from something as painful as infidelity.
Self-awareness takes you off auto-pilot.
We all do it — react instead of respond, opt for the knee-jerk instead of forethought, pull from memorized ancient scripts.
By training your brain to focus on the moment through mindfulness or meditation practices, you learn to hit pause before acting.
Instead of piggybacking on your spouse’s criticism with a line from an over-rehearsed playbook, for example, you stay where you are…in the moment.
Perhaps you hear something “between the lines” or sense a vulnerability you otherwise wouldn’t.
The gift to your relationship is that you actually contemplate your perceptions, motives, and options. You allow breathing room for what actually “is” to exhale into the moment and experience at hand.
And that breaks the shackles of automation, liberating you both to make choices in the direction of your dreams.
Self-awareness makes you a better listener.
It makes so much sense that most of us forget it or don’t think about it at all.
There is no way to have a healthy relationship without being good listeners. And there is no way you can become a better listener without learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship.Think about all the ways your partner can make you feel “unheard.” Distracted body language, interrupting, shouting over you, eye-rolling, telling you how to feel or not feel, minimizing, criticizing, defending, walking away….
What’s the message here? I don’t care. I already know what you’re going to say. I don’t have time for this. You’re blowing things out of proportion. I can’t believe we’re here again. I’m right, you’re wrong.
Now think about how your partner can make you feel heard. Eye contact, leaning in, mirroring what you say for confirmation, validating your feelings, asking open-ended questions, choosing words thoughtfully, apologizing for any hurts….
The message now becomes something very different. I care. I’m here. Help me understand. What do I need to know that I have been missing? How can I help? Thank you for enlightening me. Please forgive me.
Self-awareness helps to defuse fights.
You know those relationship fights you keep having? The ones that never get resolved but keep getting triggered and played out?
Healthy relationships aren’t devoid of fighting. As a matter of fact, the complete absence of fighting can be a danger sign for a relationship.
Part of being in a healthy relationship is learning how to communicate with your spouse without fighting. The emphasis here is on learning to communicate, not avoiding communication in order to avoid fighting.
By learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship, you learn how to draw upon healthy communication skills in the heat of the moment. You don’t default to auto-pilot.
You remember to be a good listener. You take responsibility for your feelings and how you identify and express them. And you take accountability for your role in what caused or perpetuated the argument.
You may still disagree and “hash it out.” But you resolve the argument and move forward.
The benefits of learning how to be more self-aware in a relationship aren’t limited to the relationship. The scope of self-awareness is greater, more permeating than that.
As you work to deepen your awareness and the acceptance of what you learn, you inevitably change the course of your relationships. All of them.
Instead of “living” in a relationship that no longer exists or never existed, you allow yourself to experience the relationship you are actually in…
Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, schedule a ½ hour complimentary consultation.