It is quite likely that even though you might have been unsuccessful in developing a satisfying relationship you still don't know what prevents you from succeeding and what you need to change. You continue trying, but all in vain.
So why not think of it this way: if you find yourself failing time and again, something must stand in your way. And the sooner you will know it is, the sooner you will be able to take the necessary steps in order to remove this obstacle and become able to develop a satisfying relationship.
So why postpone to tomorrow what you can find out today?
To find out what stands in your way all you need to do is embark on the Journey to Self-Awareness. That means, identifying and understanding the factors that affect your reactions and behaviors and drive you to harm your relationships. Developing this awareness enables you to understand what and how to change in order to become able to develop a successful intimacy.
The following examples illustrate such a process:
Eleanor & Patrick
"You're a control freak, just like your mother!" Patrick grumbles at Eleanor. "It's so annoying!"
"What are you talking about?" Eleanor replies, "I'm not controlling at all. I'm just trying to explain to you that that's not the way to wrap a present. Here, let me show you... "
Eleanor may agree with Patrick that her mother is controlling, but she's convinced that she's not like that. She's simply trying to explain to him how to wrap a gift...
You too might have probably experienced, sometimes in the heat of an argument with your partner, their telling you something like: "Stop behaving like your mother"; "You're really hot tempered and irritable"; "Have you noticed how stingy you are?" Sentences like these usually irritate you and you often reply with routine responses like, "Oh really, you think you know me better than I know myself? That's absolute crap".
The truth of the matter is, however, that it's not "crap", and that those close to you sometimes know you better than you do. The reason is simple: you, ostensibly, have something to "gain" when you know yourself only up to a certain point: that way you can see yourself in a positive light; delude yourself that you are more perfect than you really are; save yourself the pain and unpleasantness of acknowledging your limitations and insecurities.
But as long as you ignore, deny and reject knowing who you really are, as long as you lack self-awareness, you are prone to unconsciously sabotage your relationships time and again.
How does lack of self-awareness harm your relationships?
Betty jumps from one relationship to another. She's tremendously enthusiastic in the beginning, clings to her partner, gives him her heart and soul to later find herself - once again - abandoned and hurt. What's the matter with all these men, she asks herself, why isn't a single one of them prepared to develop a genuine, lasting relationship?
Betty perceives herself as a loving woman who gives herself over completely. But she isn't aware that her enthusiastic behavior is pushing away the men she dates, instead of bringing them closer; that she comes across as dependent and smothering; that her behavior is driven by neediness and a feeling of deprivation.
Jimmy feels that no matter what he does, he can't please Holly, who's always very critical of him: of the way he eats, the clothes he wears, how he talks on the phone.
"Can't I talk to you any more?" Holly asks him. "It's time you stopped thinking that I'm treating you like your mother does", she tells him again and again.
But Jimmy is insistent: "You just criticize and annoy me all the time".
Jimmy reacts towards Holly in an unconscious way which occurs frequently: he's bringing feelings and reactions back from his interactions with his mother into his relationship with Holly. When Holly tries to bring it to his attention, he refuses to acknowledge it and sticks to his stand that she's "criticizing and annoying him".
It is very likely that you bring to your relationships feelings and reactions you developed in the past with your parents or previous partners, without ever being aware that this is what you do.
Mary is yet another example:
Mary has not had a long-term relationship for years, something that continues to amaze her. It's true: there was a time when she didn't want a relationship and sought brief encounters just for fun. She was too busy pursuing her career to take relationships too seriously. But she always thought that when she would really want, she wouldn't have any problem finding one.
So what's happening now, when she really does want a relationship? How come she can't manage to find one, getting disappointed time after time?
Mary's lack of self-awareness makes it impossible for her to see and identify what, within her, is preventing her from developing a genuine relationship: Is it fear of commitment? Is it a philosophical perception which she holds to of being a "liberated woman"? Is it an unconscious fear of becoming dependent and needy?
Lacking self-awareness, Mary doesn't have a clue as to what's preventing her from finding a true, lasting relationship. All she knows is that she is disappointed and frustrated.
It might well be that you, just like Betty, Jimmy and Mary, even if you are disappointed anew with each one of your relationships, you still contend with the same problems and conflicts. You experience one breakup after another, but don't take responsibility for what's happening. It is very likely that you think that if a relationship is no good, or if you don't have one, it must be due to reasons which have nothing to do with you and are beyond your control: it's because of your partner; because of pressure at work; because you're pressed for time.
As long as you don't take the time to develop self-awareness, getting to know and understand yourself better, you won't be able to see the connection between your feelings and behavior and the failure of your relationships.
When should you embark on The Journey to Self-Awareness?
When you are fed up with your inability to establish a satisfying relationship; when you begin to accept the fact that by some puzzling ways you shoot yourself in the foot; when you realize that there is no other course of action but to look inside and try to understand what makes it so difficult for you to be in a relationship - is when you should embark on The Journey to Self-Awareness.
Robert, whose father always admonished him to behave like a "man", is tough, emotionless and aggressive with his partners. His relationships fall apart time after time amid mutual recriminations, and he can't seem to develop a long-term bond.
A comedy that Robert sees resonates with him: the CEO of a high-tech company falls in love with his attorney. But the attorney rejects him, claiming that he's cold, distant, and emotionless. The movie shows the various ways in which the CEO tries to get in touch with his feelings and express them in order to win the attorney.
Robert leaves the movie in a state of excitement. He understands that the comedy tragically expresses the reality of his life. Suddenly, he understands the reasons for the failures of his relationships. That his tough and aggressive behavior is what sabotages him. This insight drives Robert to begin to observe, trying to better understand his feelings and behaviors.
If you are like Robert you might need a trigger to change; something which will motivate you to "wake up" and look inwards: a conversation with a friend; with a colleague; a movie you see; a TV program; an article in a newspaper. That same "something" motivates you to get up the courage to embark on the journey to self-awareness in order to understand how you hurt yourselves and your relationships.
How can self-awareness enable you to improve your relationships?
Becoming aware of yourself and of the ways in which you have been sabotaging your relationships until now make it possible for you to understand what and how to change in order to become able to develop a successful intimacy.
Doron Gil, Ph.D., a university teacher, counselor and consultant, is an expert on the link between Self-Awareness and Successful Intimate Relationships. In his book: "The Self-Awareness Guide to a Successful Intimate Relationship: Understanding Why You Fail in Your Relationships Over and Over again and Learning How to Stop it! " Dr. Gil explains how being unaware sabotages relationships and teaches how to develop Self-Awareness: http://www.amazon.com/Self-Awareness-Guide-Successful-Intimate-Relationship/dp/143925141X/
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