Why is self-awareness important? When how we see ourselves aligns with reality, and with how others see us, we are more apt to have successful relationships. George, et. al. discovered that “positive illusions diminish relational satisfaction. The only setting in which benefit occurs is when partners rate subjects higher than subjects rate themselves. Congruence between ratings (whether subject-test, partner-test or subject-partner) is strongly associated with relational success” (2020). So, when we see ourselves more positively than objective measures would show, or more positively than our partner sees us, this corresponds with less relational satisfaction. We can probably imagine that if we are not really aware how others see us, (especially if they see us less positively!), it is fertile ground for misunderstandings…and ultimately less satisfaction with the relationship.
Can you hear how you might sound to your spouse? Do you sound bright and cheerful, or very self-assured? Are you using a condescending tone? Is your voice rising? Are you talking over, or interrupting your spouse? Do you sound defensive, or angry? Is your tone abrasive, or accusing?
Can you see how you might look to someone else? What is your body language? Arms crossed? A frown, an angry look? Hurt? Exasperated? Uninterested?
Greater self-awareness, and the ability to see ourselves as others see us, can lead us to greater awareness of how others might also respond to us. If I become aware that a particular tone of voice might sound abrasive and arrogant to my spouse, it helps me to realize the potential effect of my words. I might even realize I don’t want to say whatever I intended to say, or I might try saying it in a different way, with a different tone. What if I say something hurtful, and my spouse withdraws, instead of trying to reason with me? What if that’s the end of the conversation, and it ends only with hurt feelings instead of a common understanding and a more loving feeling toward each other?
Spending time honestly communicating with each other, calmly and without defensiveness, will deepen awareness in the relationship. This is why it is so important to make time for each other in ordinary, everyday situations when there is no pressure, and the stakes are low. Learning to communicate and understand the other person’s point of view will help us see from the other person’s point of view in a more tense, awkward, or pressure-filled situation.
Actively observing yourself and monitoring how others react to what you’re observing can enhance self-awareness, and at the same time, your relationships.
George, D. M., Wisdom, A., Linrud, A., Hall, S., Ballais, M., & Bermudez, K. (2020). The Influence of Self- and Partner-Enhancement, Perceptual Congruence and Personal Identity on Relational Satisfaction among Married Couples, Dating Couples and Same-Sex Roommate Dyads. Interpersonal Relationships. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.93913