Here's how to get there
The idea of love is great. In real life, though, maintaining a long-lasting, healthy relationship requires personal growth. There’s a little trio of self beliefs you can work on that does wonders for your relationships:
Recognizing your feelings, confidence, and knowing your worth. Lumped together, these three make up self-awareness.
Self-awareness centers around emotions. Whether you like it or not, emotions are the core of romantic relationships. Your arguments, chemistry, commitment, and communication are often based on feelings. According to research, being in touch with your emotions is associated with more satisfaction in romantic relationships.
If you’re low in self-awareness, you might:
- Struggle to identify your own feelings.
- Be unaware of why you’re feeling a certain way. Anger, sadness, anxiety etc., seem to hit you out of nowhere.
- Have trouble recognizing your strengths or naming what you are good at.
- Feel unworthy or less important/significant than those around you.
- Be unaware of how your emotions affect those around you. (You think you’re keeping your feelings to yourself and are surprised when others ask what’s wrong or get upset.)
- Become a people-pleaser.
If you struggle with the self-awareness trio, you’re not alone! Emotions, confidence, and feelings of worth are areas many of us need to work on.
How low self-awareness affects relationships
I was strong in one area of emotions – empathy, but, like many people, I lacked self-awareness. My confidence and self-worth were tied up in pleasing others, especially my partner, and it affected my ability to express my feelings.
When my marriage ended a couple of years ago, one thing became clear. If I wanted to improve my relationships and escape people-pleasing tendencies, I needed to increase my self-awareness.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, says, “If you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
Strategies for increasing self-awareness
1. Vent about how you feel
Having your feelings heard helps you calm down. Find someone that knows you just need to vent (online, on the phone, or in person) and have a chat. When you talk aloud about your experience your can start to identify how you’re really feeling and put a name to it.
2. Increase your vocabulary
If you don’t know many feelings words, find a list online and print it off. Increase your feelings vocabulary and you’ll become more aware of subtleties.
3. Attend counselling
A lot of people avoid counseling because they think it’s only for severe cases or certain types of people, but talking to a professional is a great way to become more self-aware. A good counselor can work with you on this goal. They prove valuable when you’re working through self-confidence issues too.
Individual counseling is often more effective than couples counseling especially if you focus on how you can improve and learn.
4. Write in a journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is an easy way to gain insight about yourself and your emotions. When written down, thoughts and feelings become clearer and you can explore them:
What am I really angry about?
What am I afraid of deep down with this relationship?
Is there a pattern that I can see from my past that is happening here?
Often our big emotional reactions come from a deep belief about our self or others.
For example: If you overreact about your partner forgetting to call, your reaction may be based on a deeper emotion. You’re scared that the forgotten phone call means they don’t value you. The emotional response comes from a deep belief that you’re “not enough.” Once you recognize your deep beliefs and feelings you can begin to address them.
Self-awareness is crucial for successful relationships
If you’re finding your relationships are full of conflict or your love life is struggling, there’s room for you to grow. Most of us need to!
When we work on the self-awareness trio we:
- Become more aware of our own and others’ emotions.
- Have a sense of our own worth.
- Grow in confidence.
- Develop the skills to confidently express our feelings.
Grow your self awareness and reap the benefits in your relationships.