How Significant is Self-Awareness for Guys?


Self-Awareness:  The New Buzzword

Self-awareness is the new buzzword in the business world–aimed especially at guys who wish to be leaders in their fields but find themselves lacking the leadership skills they have to work. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, tells us self-awareness is now the latest business management buzzword for good reason. [1] When we look at ourselves clearly, we’re more confident and more creative–creating sounder choice, communicating better, and building stronger business relationships.

Jennifer Porter, a managing partner in a leadership and staff development company, has a terrific take on self-reflection, which is how we can become more self-aware:

…The most useful reflection requires the conscious consideration and evaluation of faith and activities with the intention of learning. Reflection gives the brain a chance to pause admist the chaos, untangle and sort through experiences and observations, consider multiple possible interpretations and make meaning. This meaning becomes studying, which could then inform future mindsets and activities. [2]

If self-awareness is so crucial in our business relationships, why not in our romantic relationships?  Advice about self-awareness in romantic relationship frequently suggests setting aside time on a regular basis to get a self-assessment regarding values, daily tasks, life goals, etc.  Guys, particularly, will withstand this route toward self-awareness, using a bias toward action rather than contemplation; not seeing how this method contributes to a better connection, relying on”facts,” valuing intellect over feelings, not following through on a plan to meditate, etc..

We are in need of a new spin on the call for the type of self-reflection that generates the desired self-awareness.

What Are Your Triggers?

Rather than approaching self-awareness by some overall strategy about life preparation, how about a situation-specific plan –a way to recognize situations which are”triggers” to be self-reflective as opposed to reactive.

In supportive, intimate relationships disagreements and differences are often handled through a negotiation process which starts with”putting things on the table” so that the spouses can see where the gaps are.  The top negotiations lead to”win-win” results such that each spouse’s wishes and desires are heard and honored from the outcome. [3]

They often begin as a request, a remark, a difference, a debate.    However, soon you aren’t speaking to each other–you’re yelling, averting, speaking over each other, etc.  When this occurs, issues won’t be resolved because you’re making assumptions that are concealed and the ideas and feelings you are strong and negative.

The first clue that you’re setting yourself up for a battle with your spouse/partner is how you’re feeling.  If you are feeling angry with your partner, you’re set to blame her, e.g.,”I am angry because you aren’t doing your fair share.”  In this circumstance, something she did (or failed to do) has”induced” one to be mad at her.  You think that it is”normal” for you to be mad because she didn’t do what she’d agreed to do.

This scenario of believing your partner caused you to be mad (or fearful or hurt) and describing this as normal is actually your role in creating a battle.  While this angry reaction may be”reflexive,” calling it”normal” simply justifies your response.

The best way to solve conflict is for every individual to become self-reflective and personally accountable for his/her role in the breakdown of the interaction available.  Here are the steps you can take to raise your self-awareness to be able to prevent completely or resolve conflicts in your romantic relationship.

Boost Your Emotional Intelligence.  You know that anger and dread prepared you for a fight or flight response.  Daniel Goleman, who introduced the concept of emotional intelligence, perspectives such emotions as a “quick response system” that compels you to respond without proper reflection on what is happening. [4] Remember that anger and anxiety are related to the discharge of epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and dopamine, all of which ready you to fight or flee.

Psychiatrist David Viscott describes all the ways we camouflage our anger by expressing it as being upset, miffed, teed off, irked, annoyed, angry, enraged, and burnt. [5] Stress can be expressed as being fearful, edgy, jittery, nervous, stressed, helpless, insecure, uptight, nervous, having cold feet, and getting the shakes.  These are the words we use generally to avoid copping to being angry or fearfulto divert.

Developing emotional intelligence means being aware of your own”fast response system.”  You have to own it.

Understand Your Personal Take on the Circumstance.  Goleman states that due to this”quick response system,” you may make a fast interpretation of what is going on between you and your partner.  This will be a personalized interpretation based more on your own history than on the present situation.  We all bring our personal histories (painful and happy ) with us to our union.  Whenever your personal history influences your view of this circumstance, you may describe your spouse’s actions in perspective of what it means to you personally rather than clarify it.

Say you come home for work one day, ready to fix dinner with your wife.  You find out that she’s not gone grocery shopping on the way home as she had agreed to do.  She would like to go out to eat!  Your fast response system goes into action and you say,”I am so mad that you aren’t doing your fair share of the work.”  You might even add something like–“You’re such a shirker!”  Your partner will seldom, if ever, experience her actions in precisely the exact same manner that you describe it.  She just changed her mind!  The feeling of”unfairness” in this instance is the personal experience of this circumstance.

Characterizing an action isn’t the exact same thing as explaining it.  Characterizing is not about the event–her not going into the store–it is about a private selves!  And, characterizing your spouse’s action will certainly excite her counter-reaction and counter characterization (“You’re such a bully!”) .  Now, it’s a full-fledged conflict!

Here are some examples of the distinction between describing what occurs and characterizing what happens.

She didn’t attend me in how I wanted She ignored me
She spent money on things that she wanted She’s selfish
She checked her phone when we were speaking She’s so self-centered
She wants to have sex more often than I do She’s a sex-addict
She didn’t consider my view She treats me like a second class-citizen


Being Accountable

 Being accountable means using your self-awareness to communicate better with your partner — acknowledging that you’re reacting not interacting.  Being accountable means knowing that your words and actions have a direct impact on others, on your partner.

Self-awareness will build a stronger connection with your spouse if you are able to recognize when you’re angry, irritated, peeved, hurt, angry, or angry at her–recognizing that you’re reacting reflexively.  Know that without reflecting on what’s occurring, you may quickly and automatically characterize her as with some negative trait that caused her to behave badly toward you (she’s selfish, lazy, bossy, cluttered, inconsiderate, emasculating, and on and on). She won’t ever agree with such a characterization!

What’s the Payoff?

Self-reflection helps you determine the issue at hand.  The self-awareness attained by self-reflection leads you to describe your concerns to your partner instead of characterizing her actions or lack of action.  Characterizing is never positive once you’re reacting–it’s always negative–and likely to provoke a reaction-in-kind.  You may negotiate a debate or difference about what happened when it’s described.  You don’t negotiate conflict! You retaliate for a perceived personal salvation!

Like our company consultants point out, when you see yourself more clearly–recognize when you’re reacting instead of interacting–you’ll make sounder decisions, communicate better, and do your part in building a more satisfying relationship with your spouse/partner.

  • Self-awareness in company help leaders become optimistic, communicate better, and build stronger relationships.
  • Self-awareness has the identical effect in your intimate relationship.
  • A fresh approach to attaining self-awareness is to identify your trigger scenarios by paying attention to if you’re angry, anxious, or hurt.
  • Self-reflection permits you to describe a issue not characterize your partner in negative terms.
  • Characterizing your partner is provocative.






Harvard Business       Review.

  1. Porter, Jennifer. “Why You Need To Be Time for Self-Reflection (Even if You Hate Doing It). Harvard Business Review. March 21, 2017.
  1. Aponte, Catherine E. (2019) A Marriage of Equals: How to Achieve Balance in a Committed Relationship. Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995. The Language of Feelings. (n.p.) Priam Books, 1976.


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Concentrate on the Repair, Not the Damage

The perfect Relationship — What’s it look like? Have you ever been in one?  When I’ve asked customers, they have said things like:

We are deeply connected.
We remain open to one another.
We never fight.

Notice the previous statement. Do you know couples that never fight? Likely not.

How about we change that last statement to”we browse battle well?”

Conflict occurs in all relationships. The biggest question is, how can we deal with this?  What if the perfect relationship isn’t”conflict-free” but”conflict-resilient?” What does that look like?

It looks like this.

I trust you to remain in the fire with me when things get rough.  I trust you to maintain your upset and speak your truth to me {} you’ve cooled off. I trust you to hear my side of things.

Trust. Yes, battle is all about hope.  Once we deal with conflict poorly, trust diminishes. As soon as we navigate battle well, trust increases.  It’s that easy.

The actual opportunity in battle is how you and your spouse can feel nearer than ever afterwards.  To construct confidence which you can deal with tough things, without attacking, blaming, checking out, or numbing. What would that be like?

As I said in my previous blog — 4 Relational Conflict Styles — Which One Are You?  — the perfect partner doesn’t mend, blame, or abdicate. Rather, they take responsibility, deal with their hurt feelings and then concentrate on fix, not the harm .

Here’s a simple procedure to put repair into actions.

But, before I give you the products, I wish to say this.  To repair after battle, give up having to be right. Give up needing to prove anything.   Get more needing to be warranted.  That is staying in the harm. That is an adolescent perspective.

An adult, on the other hand, shows up to listen, hold their answer, and listen to their spouse.  That fosters repair and connection.

I once heard it said — within this life, would you like to be right or do you wish to be adored ?

So, here is the brief version of how to mend. Perhaps you’ve done this already. But… can you do it consistently?

1. The first person talking has the ground for 5 or 10 minutes, whatever is agreed on; set a timer and use a thing to reveal who has the floor. Only the individual with the object may speak.  The other individual is concentrated only on listening. For the person talking, talk about your feelings. Speak to nature, not narrative, as you have limited time and the clock is ticking.

2. After the timer goes off, the individual listening speaks what they heard said, in their own words. Your only job is to prove that you heard your spouse. When you’re finished, you ask,”Can I get everything?”

3.   When you are done, pause and take a breath.

4. Bear in mind, no problem solving, no focusing on who is right and who is wrong. This is all about practicing relational consciousness (“we” not”me”).

5. Notice Hooks & Triggers. Notice where you’re fired up. Breathe, tell yourself you are ok, love yourself, get current again.  It is your issue, do not project it on your spouse.

That is it, super easy. And yet often being directed by a relationship coach is a excellent way to build this into your connection.

And bear in mind, as we get better at mend together with our spouse, we cultivate a deeper confidence. A trust based on an established track record to make it through hard stuff.  We hope in each other’s power to keep in the fire when battle happens.

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Conflict in connection — it stinks. You know how it goes.

She says this. He says that. She gets angry. He gets pissed. Something hurtful is stated somewhere along the way. The two of you are triggered and feel very dangerous.

Two individuals, allegedly together, spin down different rabbit holes. Ideas fly off the handle.

Can I have a future with this person?

How many times can we do so?

Or perhaps with a mutual decision to revisit it later. No matter an inner frequency yells, You are not safe.

A couple of hours pass, or day or two, before you join with your spouse again. What happens to you?

Can you badger yourself with questions such as…

How do I make it better?
What can I do to make him (or her) love me?

For reference sake, let’s call this person #1.

Or maybe you’re full of projection and blame, thinking…

He always acts like this.

We’ll call this person #2.

Or perhaps you just shut it all out.  F*#k it, I do not need to deal with this shit. I will have a drink.

Or you calm down and say to yourself, It will be okay. Give her/him some time.

Person #4.

Which of the aforementioned are you?

Whichever you are, the common denominator is your chance to be with yourself at the wake. A opportunity to find out how you hold yourself.  How you’re in healthy self-relationship or not.

And most people will not go there — self-inquiry.  They will repeat the same patterns over and over, rather than doing the job of change and growth.  But that is not you or you would not be reading this.

“The way out of a trap is to be aware of the method by which in which the trap is built. Only then will it stop being a snare.”
— Marguerite Beecher, Beyond Success and Failure

Ok, what is your trap?  Let us unwind the dynamics over.

If you are individual #1, you wish to make things better before you have even had a chance to be on your own. You’re what is called a Fixer or Rescuer.

I understand that course well and lived it for several years. I wrote a publication with Repairing You from the name.

For a Fixer, your occupation during and after battle is to be with yourself. To self-regulate.  Deep breaths. Meditation. Walks. Whatever it takes.

Reduce the energy put into ideas of — Can she leave me? How do I make it better?

First and foremost, stop fixing your spouse as a method of avoiding yourself.  No longer — if she is ok, I could be ok. That is called self-betrayal.  Instead, ask yourself How can I be okay? How do I take care of myself? Time to be covetous.

If you are man #2, you are a blamer.  It is all blame, shame, and projection. You are essentially doing the same thing as individual #1, but your goal is your spouse, rather than yourself.  You do not try to fix but rather, you are prepared for war.

Like individual #1, you are not dealing with what is inside of you — the hurt, the disappointment, the despair. All you act on is the very best emotion of anger. And yet under anger is sadness. Get to your own sadness.

In blaming, you endeavor the hurt you are feeling onto your spouse as a means of not dealing with yourself. Perhaps they did actually do something wrong or say something stupid or hurtful, how do you return to them with compassion and strength?

For both men #1 and #2, it is about noticing what is happening within you, the emotions you are feeling. When the work isn’t done, results include lifelong codependency, victim consciousness, adultery, drug addiction, violence, and worse.

Individual #3 is an abdicator. He or she kicks the can down the street, checks out, and numbs. Again another way of not dealing with self and hard feelings. No fantastic relational results come for this individual either.

Person #4 is in fact the healthiest. She self-regulates by not freaking out. He knows that time heals and provides perspective. She cuts herself some slack. He gets out of his reptilian fight or flight system.

And yet, what’s not stated for individual #4 is healthful self-reflection.  To ask — Can I contribute to the battle? If so, how do I take responsibility for my part?

Person #4 isn’t the norm. For to this place requires grit and perseverance — working your way from the snare of reactivity, cultivating healthy self-relationship, and self-responsibility.

You don’t job, blame, fix, or numb. Instead, you take responsibility and honor yourself and your spouse.  What’s that look like?

Learn more next week in a piece entitled, “Release The Damage, Step Into Repair.”

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