The Importance of Building A Relationship With Yourself
The relationship you have with yourself is the foundation of everything – including all intimate relationships and altruism. It gives you essential insights into your life – from the way you interact and build relationships with people to the way you navigate through daily life. Self-relationship is the ultimate blueprint that will ultimately be picked up and emulated by your offspring. Having said all of this, it is the most important relationship you will ever create.
It is easy to identify traits associated with others being in a good place, showing good interpersonal skills, having their act together, and appearing successful. It does not cross our minds that to reach what seems to be a good place in their life, they had to do some deep inner work. They had to face some harsh realities, confront some buried demons, replace some habits with healthy ones, and so on. They are still doing so as it is an ongoing process.
The Instagrammable results enthral us that we do not realise that it required a tremendous amount of determination, struggle, extra hours of work, saving, sacrifices, tears, combined, consistency, grit, resilience, and the sheer amount of willpower to keep pushing forward. How ignorant it is of us to think the results fell onto their lap or that they were born under a lucky star.
It is funny, when we enter married life, a formal, legally binding contract, we vow to provide for the other person in all important ways, but do we ever take such a vow with ourselves? Do we make that vow to our being, our soul - in sickness and health, to love and cherish until death do us part?
It is easy to identify pathological aspects of self-connection – negative narcissism, egocentric perspectives, overwhelming shame about ourselves, an inability to relate to and empathize with others, and so on. We fall into a place of self-flagellation and get trapped in the cycle of self-sabotage. We do not have to let our fears and insecurities hold us back, and there are effective ways to build the all-important relationship within.
Identify and Acknowledge Why You Are Feeling
Identify and acknowledge how you are feeling. Ask yourself the following questions:
How is this situation making you feel?
How is your treatment of yourself making you feel?
How does other people's treatment of yourself making you feel?
Do not dismiss the way you feel or find excuses for them. Pinning down what makes you feel, for example, lonely or depressed, will help you find a solution to the problem.
Avoid The Selfish Trap
Parental figures raise us to see anything to do with taking care of ourselves as 'bad' and, specifically, 'selfish.' Of course, being overly self-centered and self-absorbed is problematic for relationships and ultimately self-destructive. We may think of everything we do for ourselves as luxuries when they are necessities. However, when family and culture teach you that everything you do with looking after your needs is selfish, there is a problem. Parents punish us for our so-called selfishness physically or materialistically, and we internalize these same damming moral judgments. These factors are roadblocks to having a good relationship with yourself, and it is vital to recognise and work with them. Recognise that selfishness is defined in positive and negative ways.
See the parts of you disklike as being human. Share your flaws, worries, and insecurities with a person you have a close and trusting relationship with or with a life coach or counsellor. This often leads to a sense of relief and even the realization that the things we are most afraid of are familiar and relatable experiences. Imagine how you would respond to a loved one's flaws and insecurities and try to apply this to yourself.
Plan For Short, Middle, and Long-Term
As part of cultivating a great relationship with yourself, it is crucial to set priorities for different time frames. Having realistic goals and settling milestones and steps for each one are proven ways to stay on the right track. Realise that motivation in the short-term is based on reward (for example, feeling great when you start a creative project you have always wanted to do). Over the long-haul, motivation becomes less exciting and more about maintaining habits and avoiding new behaviours. The long-term rewards are an investment that comes down the road, but it can be easy to focus too much on immediate and temporary pleasures.
Care For Your Needs
A great place to start cultivating a relationship with yourself is caring for your basic physical needs, including getting enough sleep, eating correctly and the proper nutrients, and exercising. Give yourself space to discover and connect with yourself - what feeds your mind, body, and spirit?
Let Go Of Your Inner Perfectionist
Perhaps you are a perfectionist – you obsess over the tiny details, put too much pressure on yourself to look good on the outside, to be flawless and impeccable in and at everything you do. Our inner perfectionist only fuels the fire of our self-sabotage. Save the time and energy you spend telling yourself you are not good enough or attempting to hide your 'imperfections' and learn to accept yourself for what you truly are, even with the parts you deem to be imperfect.
Bring Your Goals Into Existence
If there is something you want to do, stop talking about it and put it into action. If you let fear speak louder and hold you back from your purpose, it creates a disconnection from within. Set goals and create a plan for yourself - be realistic. It is easy to go all-in, burn out, and not finish what you had started. Instead, try to come up with an end date first and then work backward to create a schedule. It will help you to stay organised, and completing a goal is a natural booster of self-confidence.
Speak Differently To Yourself
If you speak harshly to yourself (internally, not literally), notice you are doing that and learn how to interrupt the action and take a reflective step back. Notice how you feel – do you feel agitated? Is your heart rate higher? Slow down and be gentle with yourself, let yourself calm down, reappraise the situation, and try again. This time speak to yourself encouragingly and positively - show yourself some compassion.
Cultivate Realistically Optimistic Behaviour
Perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking are enemies of natural change. Many people want everything to be fixed in a short period. This almost always leads to failure and places you in the negative cycle of self-blame. This crosses into self-abuse and punishment, which is not a formula for healthy change. Setting goals, and building on them, is an effective alternative. For instance, instead of demanding yourself to spend one hour meditating everyday, you can set a goal of doing at least twenty to thirty minutes and slowly build up from there. If you don't meet that goal, it is okay – it carries over into the following week.
Take bite-sized, manageable steps. Pushing yourself too hard, setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, and demanding instant success will only lead to an incomplete goal and an emotional and mental burnout. Have fun with the process.
If you would like to take the first step to building a relationship with yourself, book a consultation with our therapist.