Polyamory Success Skills #1: Self-Awareness
When people ask me about polyamory and what it takes to be successful at it, there’s a certain set of skills that come to mind. Actually, these skills are imperative for any relationship, whether it’s polyamorous or monogamous. It doesn’t even have to be a romantic partner, it could be a business partnership, or a family relationship. It’s just that it’s much more difficult to create a successful polyamorous relationship without these particular skills. I’ll be writing a series of these blogs, each focusing on a separate skill, and ending with recommended further practice.
This week’s Polyamory Success Skill is Self-Awareness.
The type of self-awareness I’m speaking about isn’t the simple “aware that the self exists,” like when people talk about Artificial Intelligence becoming self-aware. Awareness of the mere existence of self is too basic for what we’re going for here. Nor is it something like proprioception, the ability to know where your body is in space in relation to the rest of your body. Although it’s useful, and I would argue assists with general self-awareness, even awareness of emotions, it isn’t exactly what we’re talking about here.
The kind of self-awareness I’m speaking about is more along the lines of awareness of the structures and mechanisms, both physical and mental, that create you, your experiences, your thoughts and emotions, and all of your reactions. It’s an awareness that you are a human being, and along with it comes a whole slew of other things, like:
- the ability to seek out patterns;
- the ability to make predictions about the future;
- the tendency to make snap judgements with little to no facts;
- Resistance when faced with information that doesn’t align with your worldview;
- The ability to learn new skills and behaviors;
- The prioritization and importance of relating to other human beings; …
There are a whole lot more that I’m not mentioning here, but you get the point.
Each of these systems and senses has their advantages and disadvantages.
- The patterns we find can help us make sound decisions, or they can freeze us into inaction;
- Our predictions about the future may be centered around fear and survival;
- Our snap judgements help protect us, but could be wholly unfounded and unnecessary;
- We find it difficult to get along with people who have different opinions than ours;
- Sometimes the behaviors we learn end up holding us back;
- When we are rejected by our fellow humans, it can lead us down a dark path.
Self-Awareness is knowing that what constitutes your sense of self is the collection of these inherited human traits. And that’s just it, they’re inherited. You didn’t choose these traits. You were never given a “character creation tool” like at the beginning of RPGs. You also didn’t choose your gender, your sexual orientation, your hair color, height… and yet here they are. And these dictate how you interact with the world; and how the world interacts with you.
Most people, when they hit this point of self-awareness, hit a speed bump of complacency. It sounds like:
- “That’s just the way I am,” or
- “I’m only human.”
While these statements are absolutely true, the complacency comes from the idea that there’s nothing that can be done about it. This is where the work and skills start to come into play.
Those who are not willing to do the work will stop at this point, bound to the way their past has created and shaped their thoughts and behaviors, and bound to repeat those patterns over and over again for the rest of their lives. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. A lot of people live out their lives like this. In the grand scheme of things, the human race survives, the Earth keeps spinning, days and nights go by, time goes on.
But those of us who see that something else, something more is possible, those of us who see shining examples of compassion and empathy and want that life for ourselves, there is a path to get us there.
What’s that path? Here are some simple steps (simple, not necessarily easy); it may be worthwhile to stop at each of these steps for a few weeks, or a few months, before moving on. And you’ll keep coming back to these steps, like climbing a spiral staircase: each time you come back to it, you’ll be at a higher level, and use it to climb even higher.
- Observe yourself.
- What do you do? What do you not do? What are your automatic reactions to things?
- These reactions can be actions, things you actually do, or they can be as subtle as a thought or feeling that comes up.
- Consider the impact you have.
- Simply by existing, we impact everyone and everything around us. Once you’ve observed some actions/reactions/behaviors, consider what impact that has on the people around you.
- What do you want your life to be about?
- Who do you want to be known as?
- What actions are aligned with that?
- Are your actions and impacts in line with who you want to be/who you consider yourself to be?
- If not, what will you do next time so that your actions are aligned?
- One by one, you’ll replace each of your inherited, automatic reactions with intentional, created actions.
- Your life will change as your actions change.
- “Stand in the middle of a field at night, look up at the stars, and tell them your dreams, desires, hopes, and fears, and see their reaction.”
I use this structure in my 1-on-1 coaching. If you’d like personalized guidance and insight as you navigate this path, please reach out to me. We can have a free 25-minute consultation call to see what kind of coaching is right for you:
In the end, I’ll leave you with this:
Nobody said it was easy, we’re just saying it’s worth it.
What did this blog bring up for you? Are there things you can see about yourself now? What things do you do that are not in line with who you consider yourself to be, or who you want to be?
Please tell me, I’d love to know!
You can email me: Steve@CoachSteveYang.com
Or post to my facebook business page: https://business.facebook.com/coach.steve.y
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