How is being aware different from being conscious? The term “Consciousness” has been defined as “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment“, however there is no real consensus among philosophers and psychologists about what consciousness is. Rather than try to engage in this battle, I am going to stay with the simpler concept of awareness.
I can be aware of my internal feeling state (angry, depressed, happy, etc.) and I can be aware of external phenomena like the weather or problems with my house that need fixing. I may be aware that the the weather report today says that the temperature is 29 degrees out and that sun is shining, but that does not mean that I am aware of my inner process. So I can be aware of the weather, but I may be unaware of how I am showing up in relationship.
In relationship, I see awareness as applying mostly to what is happening with me in the moment and what clues my partner is giving me as to her internal state. In order to become aware of my own internal state, I find that I must slow down (breathe) and notice my internal signals. How is my body feeling in this moment? What defenses are active right now? What thoughts are niggling in my ear?
One tool I use that is quite effective here is a “Pattern Interrupt” which requires me to stop, breathe, think about what is going on and choose my response wisely. Easy to say, but not always easy to do.