3 ways to leverage self-awareness and keep from hurting people

Do you remember when you learned to read a stop sign? Probably not. You were pretty young.

But now that you know, you can’t go back to seeing just a bunch of white squiggles on a red background, right? You’re aware.

This awareness is potent. It keeps you from hurting other people or yourself when you’re behind the wheel.

Self-awareness keeps you from hurting people, too.

Here are 3 ways to develop it:

Make the invisible visible.

90% of the behaviors that break relationships down – break trust down – are subtle, fleeting, and unintentional.

Most people aren’t aware these behaviors carry such an impact. They just know something is off in the relationship. They know they’ve been hurt, or caused hurt. But they don’t know what caused the pain.

Only that it’s there, holding the relationship back.

Gain awareness of these pain-inducing behaviors. Look for them. I promise you, you’ll begin to see them everywhere.

In formal meetings.

In team huddles.

Around the break room.

In phone conversations, email exchanges, and texts.

In the media.

In your own home.

Be honest with yourself. Take stock of how you’ve been practicing the behaviors that wear trust down.

Gaining this awareness is a beautiful thing. It’ll be like the proverbial light bulb going off – by a factor of a million. You’ll gain specific understanding of why your relationships struggle.

Why communication breaks down.

Why things are harder and take longer than they should.

Why ‘the good times’ are fewer and farther between than they could be.

Claim the opportunity to choose.

 Learning how you practice trust-eroding behaviors is like moving from the passenger’s to the driver’s seat in your life.

 You gain the opportunity to choose to show up differently.

To bring into line your behavior with your purest intentions.

To determine how you want your relationships to unfold and take action on that.

You no longer have to feel like you’re flying blind as you try to connect with other people.

You no longer have to wait for interpersonal issues to sort themselves out.

You no longer have to unintentionally cause pain – or suffer through pain with no recourse.

You can roll up your sleeves and, one behavior at a time, take responsibly, heal your relationships, and guide them to where you want and need them to be.

It’s a paradigm shift, to realize what’s been holding your relationships back all this time is you. It’s thrilling, actually. And, deeply motivational.

You understand how to bring your best self into the world.

Imagine it.

Take the teeth out of let down and disappointment.

Of course, you’ll still let people down. And, they’ll let you down. Hey – you’re still human. And so is everyone else.

But here’s what happens as you increase self-awareness: You learn to use breakdowns in trust to make your relationships even stronger. How?

Through embracing your own and others’ humanity – instead of denying it. Let me explain:

What’s your knee-jerk reaction now, when trust takes a hit? If you’re like most people, you withdraw. Contract. Build barriers. Begin to question and doubt.

Can you see that these behaviors actually just cause more pain? That you’re in essence withholding the very thing you want and need – trust? When trust is withheld – either by you or by others – people suffer.

When you’re self-aware, you know how to stop the suffering.

You view breakdowns not as threats, but as ripe opportunities to demonstrate your commitment to making the relationship truly work – for you both. Because you’re not held back by fear, you step in and go to work on working the issue through.

With a steady hand, you course-correct the relationship.

Of course, that’s simplifying it. Even for the most self-aware, it takes a lot of work to keep trust in relationships alive. But the key here is you know how to keep trust alive.

Whereas before, you were fumbling around in the dark.

Yours in trust,

Dennis Reina, PhD

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