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Three T's for Increased Self-awareness and Better Relationships with Others

Self-knowledge leads to healthy relationships


Stephen van Beek
Three keys to learning who we are and what we can 'do' about it.


New therapy clients often ask about proven techniques to improve their self-awareness - especially those whose schedules and/or finances preclude the usual weekly sessions.

I call my favourite set of techniques "the three Ts", an acronym for: Temperament, Triggers, and Time.


Temperament is our inherent attitude toward the world around us. Some of us sense and feel more acutely than others - something that is influenced by a variety of factors. For example, what is perceived as a loud noise to some appears softer to others, making certain situations more trying for them.

It's not a matter of character, personal choice, control or a quirk or foible. Temperament simply is what it is. (Remember the adage that there is no accounting for taste.)

Carl Jung's distinction between introvert and extrovert is generally known after 80 years, but the mystery of just why we have difficulties with those who represent our undeveloped sides remains. Oddly, we see people with wildly differing temperaments falling for each other, then resenting the differences later, once the dishes are washed and the flowers have faded.

Tip! Take time to notice and even jot down notes about what you find pleasing and displeasing in the ordinary course of life. It can provide fertile material for a better appreciation of your own limitations and strengths.


Have you noticed that there are particular events that gall you, unsettle you, and spark a seemingly unstoppable chain of emotional reactions despite your best intentions?

We therapists use the term "triggers" to refer to such events, and we see them as matters over which we have as yet no reliable control.

In therapy we can quickly learn to identify and then manage such triggers, but it is all too true that years may pass before we become aware of the underlying causes of our own very individual and personal triggers.

Tip! It really pays off for us to notice our own triggers, which may even be initiated by kindness as much as by negative events. How do you respond when a stranger is kinder to you than you have learned to anticipate in your dealings with those you call friends and family?


Time is the shadow of all human experience. The softly ticking clock measuring out mortality, ambition, love, hope and the essence of our humanity. And the clock is a metronome for the intricate pulse of our temperamental rhythms and the monitor of our trigger speed.

Each of us obeys a constant - and largely unacknowledged - circadian (daily) clock-time that is more invariable than the atomic clock or the celestial march of the sun across the sky.

Depending on the hour of the day, we may or may not be at our peak conscious alert awareness. We also have one or two hours of insight, foresight, and hindsight each day. Observing when each of these times occur for you will help you get the most out of life. Remembering that others' peak times may be differ from yours and watching for their moments will help smooth your interactions with others.

Tip! Keep a diary of these times and events, along with documentating your Temperament and Triggers is life changing and life enhancing.

Self-therapy and Therapy with a Therapist

These three techniques can form the foundation of a self-therapy, as well as supporting any process you take with a learning-oriented therapist who works in the psychodynamic context. ("Psychodynamics" refers to the concept that all 'normal' persons are made up of complex psychic and continually interacting aspects. It takes the view that we benefit from knowing these aspects better and more intimately.)

So is a therapist necessary? My early clients often ask this question to which my only truthful answer is that it is always beneficial to have the inputs of one who has taken his or her own journey towards a greater sense of self.

I wish all of you well on your journeys.

Stephen van Beek, MA (Tripos), DCTP, is a Psychotherapist and Founder of the Toronto Therapy Network. You can find out more about Mr. van Beek and the pther psychotherapists of the Network at www.TherapyToronto.ca

Permanent Link: http://naturalhealthcare.ca/articles/the_winter_pinks .phtml



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