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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How To Use Personal Development To Type Loving Relationships

Our personal development travel, hopefully, gives us clarity on what’s important to us, where our boundaries are, and the kinds of things that have us feel loved and protected. How can we use this knowledge to merge with other people then?

I’m incredibly grateful for the years of personal development work I’ve experienced, both as a participant and facilitator. I’ve spent the last twenty years taking courses, reading books, working with mentors, participating in seminars, training clients, and leading workshops, all in the sake of becoming a better person, a better spouse, a better father, a better lover, a better understanding and a better contributor to society. A consistent comprehension that gets lost, however, is the understanding that the people around us are also people dealing with their own”stuff” in their own journey.

Understanding of self is vitally important, yet I’m not at all suggesting we provide that exploration up to only concentrate on others. What I am suggesting is this: As we grow, learn, and discover things about ourselves, we also search for how those things could possibly be expressed by other people. By the time a few finds me, or that I step into associations that seek out my help, individuals are usually feeling depleted and in pure survival mode. From this place, it’s almost impossible to take into account the person in front of us, as we are totally focused on our needs that haven’t been getting fulfilled. While we may decide to”take care of ourselves,” it is usually from a defensive and resentful place, versus among self-love. It is something to lovingly take responsibility for fulfilling your own needs, rather than doing it with anger and animosity towards another;”I am just going to have to perform ______ for myself because you are not going to.”

Our personal development travel, hopefully, provides us insight on what’s important to us, where our boundaries are, and the kinds of things that have us feel loved and protected. How can we use this knowledge to merge with other people then?

We have been shaped by our past, we’ve got each developed survival mechanisms and we all”act out” in ways which are based on these experiences. If we’re prepared to consider that the individual responding is doing so based on how they are in relation to their past, then we might discover there’s not any reason–barring abuse–for us to become defensive. If my spouse has had a long history of being talked-down-to and has developed her intellectual skills that she could never be out-debated, I get to realize that engaging in disagreement with her would be an unproductive, possibly hurtful strategy. On the flip side, if she understands that my default is to think I have done something wrong, using discussion strategies will just have me feel worse and drive a deeper wedge into our relationship.

This translates to associations also.

My parents taught school for 40 years, and for all the time, I’d hear them tell stories about how the administrators were a particular way. Administrators would say the way the teachers were a particular way, etc. Everyone believed they were correct, the other was wrong. No one was ready to listen to another and hence the animosity just became a daily experience.

The solution, then, is to simply stop it. Seriously.

When we can have a deep breath and be happy to hear each other from a place of genuine curiosity and having an interest in a partnership, then things can change rather quickly. In a romantic relationship, when we aren’t defending our position, we have a tendency to get very interested in our spouse. When this occurs, we naturally start working together toward shared interests; these pursuits tend to incorporate each other’s fulfillment.

Likewise, a unified organization with an interest in mutually beneficial outcomes promotes a happier and more productive work environment. Doing our own work while being interested in the work of our spouse, co-worker or personnel creates loyalty and connection and has the power to take things to a whole new level.

What can you provide for yourself now? And, what are you ready to discover about your spouse?


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Our personal development travel, hopefully, gives us clarity on what’s important to us, where our boundaries are, and the sorts of things that have us feel loved and protected. How can we use this knowledge to merge with other people then?

The article How To Use Personal Development To Type Loving Relationships appeared on The Great Men Project.

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