“Who am I?” It’s a question that I have repeatedly asked myself throughout my life and I know that I’m not the only one. Self-discovery is the new crave in Western culture. So many people are “finding themselves” or trying to discover more deeply who they are. It’s no surprise that this journey has become so popular. Studies show that self-awareness is linked to happiness. I think that most people would agree that the idea of being happier is appealing and self-discovery is an excellent tool to do so. So, what does that have to do with our relationships or their success? Honestly, the answer to that question is multi-faceted.
If self-discovery is linked to our happiness, does our own individual happiness affect our relationships? You bet your ass it does! Research suggests that happy people are more successful, not just in their career but in their relationships too. This is the case because happy people are already receiving the signal in their brain of happiness (or Positive Affect), which allows them to make better decisions, continuously set new goals, be motivated and so much more. In a way, happiness in the brain can be cyclical. So, in the case of our romantic relationships, if we are able to know and fulfill our needs for our overall happiness on our own then we are putting far less pressure on our partner by relying less on them to fulfill our happiness desires.
What about the flip-side of that coin? If we are unhappy overall as an individual, how are we likely to perform in our relationship? Some of the behaviors that we’re likely to express if we are unhappy or experience from an unhappy partner are: criticism, increased alcohol and/or substance use, mental, physical or emotional withdraw, neediness and more. It’s clear to see that these kind of behaviors are less appealing to put our partner through or receive from our partner.
As if the happiness factor isn’t enough of a reason to take a dive into self-discovery, let’s explore the other ways that it can benefit your love-life. The better sense of self that you have outside of your relationship, the less likely you’ll be to compromise WHO YOU ARE for a relationship. Couples all over the world experience what I refer to as the “compromise phenomenon”. This refers to the experience in which someone in a relationship slowly, over a period of time (sometimes this can be years or even decades) compromises pieces of themselves until they’re in a state of confusion about who they even are as a person.
As much as we may love our partner, their influence is likely to play a role in what we think or the way that we behave. The journey of self-discovery is meant to be done just that way…by ourself. Otherwise, it would be called couple-discovery. By going through this process as an individual, it allows us to explore more of ourself without the outside influence of our partner. It gives us the opportunity to set time aside to discover and rediscover who we are as we evolve through life. Self-discovery can help lessen the likelihood of the Compromise Phenomenon occurring so that we can ensure that we can continue to lead a life that is true and meaningful to us.
In fact, by going through the self-discovery process, it can help us to identify the parts of our relationship that may be off-balance. It’s only be finding the differences between us and our partner that we can tell how we’re on different pages. Once we achieve that, we can confidently bring our partner into the equation and share our discoveries with them in the hope that they will continue to love and accept us for who we are as we grow through life journey.