Self awareness – an understanding and insight into your own internal world and reactions – is essential for any relationship, whether platonic or romantic. Why? If you’re completely oblivious to what’s going on internally, it can cause you to become reactive, prone to projection, insecure, defensive and unable to take responsibility for your own issues.

In a romantic relationship, self awareness is especially important to help you deal with any issues that arise. For example, if your partner comes home late from work, you might feel angry – but if you’re more self-aware, you will understand that your feelings stem from insecurity caused by a past relationship. This helps you better address and move past the problem.

So, how can you make sure you’re practicing proper self awareness? Here are 5 useful tips:

1. Therapy

Whether you seek personal or couples therapy, a large part of the process involves a trip down memory lane. Past experiences shape who we are, and examining them helps us better understand our motivations and behavior.

For example, talking through your relationship history, you might discover a tendency to choose emotionally unavailable partners. This leads to a new awareness of your inner motivations, and the opportunity to do things differently next time.

2. Coaching

Much like personal therapists, relationship coaches are trained to ask the ‘right’ questions – but these are often more based around your values and goals in life. Many people feel more connected to their inner drive after coaching. It helps you see the big picture and determine how your daily life contributes to reaching your goals.

3. Journaling

There are a million thoughts flying through our heads every day, and many are unconscious or automatic (checking your phone, daydreaming, etc).

Journaling is a free and relaxing form of self-care to get some of those thoughts out on paper and reflect on what is happening – both inside and outside of our heads. If you make it part of your daily routine, it can become a valuable resource in alerting us to issues or gaps in our lives.

4. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness in particular is great for developing self awareness, since we are given the opportunity to tune in with ourselves and switch off from distractions.

Meditation helps us relax, ease tension and notice how emotions feel in our bodies. Self awareness also includes being receptive to the physical experience of emotions (tightness in your chest, clenching your jaw) and taking a moment to control your reactions.

5. Sharing Emotions

Sharing emotions means just that – sharing them with family, friends, and partners. When we talk through things with other people, we’re inviting them to share their experiences, which helps us reflect on our own.

If you’re in a romantic relationship, you can plan a date night to discuss some of the biggest topics for self awareness – values, your future, intimacy, etc. – or simply talk about your days before bed. Researchers have found that taking inventory of what went well each day, and why, helps with mood and wellbeing – and it is also likely to help with self-and-partner awareness.

Just like being in a relationship, practicing self awareness and self-care takes time, patience and a level of commitment. By using the above tips, you’ll become better in tune with your internal emotions, which doesn’t just lead to a healthy relationship but a healthy mind, too.

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