Self awareness means consciously recognizing one's own emotions, thoughts, motivations, and personality traits. For instance, Abby and Bob have been together for 15 years. Abby tends to be a perfectionist, likes order, get angry fast but cools off fast, is ambitious, and can be fairly critical. Bob hates to be told what to do, is gererally easy going, is slow to anger and slow to let go of it, is uncomfortable with conflict so avoids it when he can, and seldom asks for what he wants.
Of course, any couple has conflict, but how well do they sort out their own feelings, and clearly express their perspective to the other? If Abby is self aware she can admit that her comments can come across as critical and bossy. When Bob is self aware he can admit that he can be very resistent to her feedback, and admit that often there is some wisdom in her comments. She can soften her criricisms by rephrasing her comments. He can recognize that simply listening to her, and communicating his feelings will work better than avoiding or her resisting her comments. Under these circumstances there is more reliable clarity, and resolution, and each person feels listened to and respected.
When a person is not self aware, then he gets lost in his own emotions and point of view and simply reacts. He may say or do things that make the situation worse. There is little ability to step back from his own perspective or communicate clearly. In these circumstances little clarity happens, and often the situation escalates.
A big part of couples counseling is assisting each person to greater self awareness, and building communication skills. Self awareness is a prerequisite to clear communication, i.e. if one does not know what she feels or why, then she cannot explain why she is upset, or what she wants. She is disempowered in her relationships. I assist both my individual and couples clients to be more aware of their personality traits, feelings, and core beliefs, in order that interpersonal resolution and harmony can be achieved.