The importance of self awareness in relationships

Self-awareness is essential to having healthy relationships with others. 

It’s the ability to be aware of our actions, thoughts and emotions, and to think about them in relation to our value system.

In other words, it helps us understand ourselves, and why we believe and say what we do.

Let’s look a little closer at why having self-awareness is essential in all of our relationships.

Self-awareness is key to realizing you are your source of happiness 

When it comes to ranking how important things are in a relationship, self-awareness is at the top of the list. 

In fact, some people think it is the most important thing you need to have a successful relationship with another person.

Relationship coach Abby Medcalf argues that self-awareness is so essential for the ability to realize that your happiness comes from yourself first and foremost.

Sure, having friends or a romantic partner is definitely a source of happiness and they can add massive value to our lives.

However, they are not our only source of happiness and they are not responsible for us being happy about ourselves. 

Medcalf explains: 

“You have to have a healthy relationship with yourself before you can have a healthy relationship with anyone else. 

“Self-awareness is the key to realizing that you are responsible for your own happiness: Your partner is not. 

“The more you feel the need to focus on your partner, the more you need to focus on yourself and your own actions and thoughts.

“You do this by learning to train your attention to be in the moment, and not in what’s happened in the past or what you think might happen in the future.”

I’ll be honest: I can find myself focusing on my partner much more than I probably should be.

Truth is, I would likely be shocked if I counted the amount of times I start a sentence with his name, and talk about something he’s done or said, or something that he’s doing next in his life. 

At times, I have felt myself feeling as though the decisions he makes will directly affect my happiness… 

…It’s not the way to be!

On the other hand, focusing on myself allows me to feel much more in control of my life. 

When I remind myself that I am my source of happiness, I feel so much calmer in myself. 

And here’s the thing: 

It makes me show up as a better version of myself in the relationship, where I’m not feeling reliant on him for being my source of happiness or even fulfillment. 

Self-awareness promotes empathy and clarity 

The more self-aware we are in life, the most empathetic and understanding we are.

Naturally, this has a direct effect on our relationships… in a good way!

Whether it’s the relationship with our romantic partner, or with friends and family, having more empathy is always a good thing.

It allows us to be much more understanding about ourselves and others, and it means we’re less likely to jump to conclusions… Meaning we don’t assume that the other person knows what it is we need.

This is a big no-no in relationships!

On the other hand, being self-aware is all about being tuned into our needs and wants… And once we have an understanding of what these are, we can communicate them to other people.

Simply put, self-awareness offers a level of clarity.

This is essential in a healthy relationship.

You see, if you’re not aware and connected to yourself then you’re going to feel muddled and stuck about what it is you want.

For example, you might feel frustrated without really knowing where this is coming from.

In my experience, you might even blame the other person for why you’re feeling like that!

Meanwhile, self-awareness allows you to identify what it is you’re lacking or needing to change… So you actually can take action!

Self-awareness shines a light on our values

If we never put the work into looking inwards and understanding our motivations, we will go through life a little bit blind.

Think about it: if you don’t know what you like or want to do, you’ll feel a little directionless.

Now, when we feel bad about the way things are, it’s a fact that we tend to take things out on the people closest to us. 

In other words, through not doing any of your own inner work and connecting with what is important to you, there’s a chance you’ll take out your frustration on your loved ones. 

This happened with my boyfriend and I.

You see, before he did any inner work, he was feeling really lost about what sort of work to pursue.

He felt angry that his work didn’t feel meaningful and that he wasn’t having a positive contribution – although he couldn’t pinpoint what it was he did want to do.

During this time when he was constantly looking at job boards but not really knowing what he wanted to do, we had quite a few heated moments.

Simply put, he was annoyed with himself so it was coming out at me… And I was trying to push him without really knowing which was to push him.

Looking back, I shouldn’t have been pushing him at all as he needed to arrive at this place by himself. 

Truth is, only he could find what is important to him and what his values are.

So what did he do?

He put pen to paper and started thinking about his value system.

There are so many tools out there to help with getting clear on what your values are – and where to start can admittedly feel a little bit overwhelming – however we found one that was super easy to navigate.

This free checklist by Jeanette Brown helped him within an hour of looking at it. 

You see, it couldn’t be more straightforward:

She asks you to think about which values resonate with you from a long list of them, such as authenticity, charity and courage. 

From doing the exercises, he quickly came to realize that he wanted to pursue something that offered a sense of adventure while also giving back.

He got clear on his values and allowed them to guide him, rather than discussions between him and I which were without guidance.

What does this mean for you?

Before you direct frustration at another person because you’re unclear about your values, go through the exercise and become that little bit more self-aware…

Self-awareness allows you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses 

Let’s be honest:

We all have strengths and weaknesses. 

There’s the classic idea of turning a weakness into a strength in a job interview, and always focusing on seeing things as strengths.

Sure, of course, there’s benefit to finding the positives in our weaknesses… But it’s totally alright to have weaknesses and to accept that they’re there.

I won’t lie: as much as I have a strong emotional intelligence and I’m empathetic and a bunch of different things, I have a real lack of common sense.

Things that people can work out instantly just won’t make sense at that moment… Or ever.

Those around me know that I’m not someone who’s likely to put two and two together in a practical situation… and that’s alright!

Because I’m self-aware, I’m clear about the fact that my common sense is an area in which I fall down…

…What’s more, I’ve communicated that with people so they’re aware that I can struggle to make sense of practical things.

People know this and don’t get frustrated with me; instead, they find it humorous!

Now, when you’re in a partnership with another person and you’re doing life together, it’s a great idea that you both know your strengths and weaknesses so you can work well together.

For example, although I lack common sense, I am super organized and able to plan out exactly how long things take. 

It couldn’t be more in opposition to my boyfriend, who has no sense of time and is always rushing to meet deadlines.

So what do we do?

We find ways to play into our strengths and to work together successfully.

Simply put, we accept that we have different strengths and weaknesses and work out how to make them work for us and work for our partnership. 

Self-awareness helps us accept responsibility for our actions

It’s so easy to blame other people when things go wrong

But it’s not the right thing to do… If you’re the one in the wrong.

When you make a mistake and things go a little pear-shaped, it’s necessary that we’re honest with ourselves about the role we played in the situation.

Simply put, it’s necessary to put your hand up and say ‘I got it wrong’ and ‘I’m sorry’. 

However, when we’re not self-aware, we can fall into a trap of thinking that we didn’t do anything wrong and that we’re not to blame…

…But, in fact, the other person is!

Hands down, this way of thinking and acting will be the root of so many issues and arguments. 

On the other hand, if you’re able to see your shortcomings and how you’ve messed up – and to admit it – it will make being in a relationship with you much easier. 

Being able to apologize and mean it is important in any relationship.

That’s not to say that you should be making loads of mistakes and apologizing regularly; ideally, mistakes shouldn’t be a regular thing, but it’s unrealistic to think that they won’t happen at all. 

What does this mean for you?

When you do eventually make a mistake, be self-aware and honest with yourself about what you did so you can move forward in a healthy way.

Self-awareness allows you to observe your responses

Just like mistakes are a part of life, so are disagreements.

I can tell you: as much as I love my boyfriend, we disagree regularly!

Now, sometimes when we’re discussing something and disagreeing things can get, well, heated…

…And we can both say things that we don’t mean in the heat of the moment. 

What’s more, we’re both as guilty as one another! 

But this is where self-awareness comes in: 

It allows us to step away from the situation and to think about the way we behaved and how we want to speak to one another.

Without bringing self-awareness into the situation, we could easily step away from our disagreement and think the other person is just totally out of line and we were justified in saying what we did.

Truth is, it’s necessary that we both reflect honestly on the things we say to each other and consider where they have come from…

…And what’s behind them.

For example, we had an argument recently where he told me that the way I work into the night isn’t acceptable and that I wear my work like a ‘badge of honor’…

I responded by telling him that it’s not my fault he’s not ambitious and, well, things got pretty nasty verbally. 

We both handled the situation really badly. 

But, through self-awareness and reflection, he realized that what he wanted to say was: 

‘I’d like to spend more time with you but I feel like you’re prioritizing your work’.

Meanwhile, I wanted to say: 

‘My work is important to me and I’d like you to understand the significance it has in my life, even if having a career isn’t something you place an emphasis on.’

You see, through going away and considering what it is we really wanted to say, we were able to come back together and talk about things calmly and clearly. 

Without any self-awareness, we would have both stayed in a state of thinking that we were right to have said the things we did and that the other was wrong!

Let’s just say: I’m very grateful for the power of self-awareness, and pleased that we both commit to it.

It’s such an important cornerstone to having a healthy dynamic with another person… And although it’s confronting at times, it’s worth it!

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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