Which relationship would you consider your most important? The one with your partner or spouse? Parent? Child? Friend? Someone else?
What if I were to suggest that your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself? Perhaps you would react the way I first did upon hearing that idea: How on earth can I have a relationship with myself? I AM me. Not someone outside of myself I have relationships with.
Here’s the thing: You do have a relationship with yourself, and it sets the tone for all your other relationships. It’s the first relationship you have, the last one, and it’s always there, even if you’re not consciously aware of it. And how do you know if it needs work if you're not even aware of it? Look no further...
The 12 Signs Your Relationship With Yourself Needs Work are:
You don’t treat yourself with the same respect you treat others.
You wouldn’t dream of speaking to others the way you speak to yourself.
You have higher expectations of yourself than are reasonable.
You are very hard on yourself, too hard.
You don’t forgive yourself.
You don’t accept yourself for who you are.
You are not kind and compassionate with yourself.
You don't respect your own boundaries.
You feel like you give and give and get nothing in return.
You allow people to take advantage of you.
You don't take care of yourself as well as you take care of others.
You don't regularly schedule time for yourself do to the things that fill your energy and happiness tanks.
Sound familiar? Often we become so concerned with achievements, gaining approval, obtaining our partners’ love, or keeping others happy that we lose touch with ourselves and don’t treat ourselves very well. Sometimes we fall into the martyr role and feel everything must come before ourselves.
Why Work on Your Relationship With Yourself?
So you might not have the best relationship with yourself. So what? Does it really matter? Yes, it does. You teach others how to treat you by the way you treat to yourself. Others watch your lead, and then follow. For example, if you don’t respect yourself, others will likely not show as much respect for you as you would like. The better you treat yourself, the better others will treat you. Besides, when you have a good relationship with yourself, there’s an excellent chance you will just generally be all-around happier.
How To Improve Your Relationship With Yourself
1. Begin With Your Inner Critic
Identifying and becoming aware of the part of your inner voice that’s critical is the best starting place when it comes to improving your relationship with yourself. Pay attention to what your inner critic is saying. Does it tell you that you’re not deserving, not good enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, weak, flawed, unworthy, unlovable and all sorts of other unkind things? If yes, you’re not alone. And know that, just because you have these thoughts, does not mean they are true.
You might find it useful to name you inner critic, so as to distinguish that voice from who you really are. I’ve named my inner critic Frank. Frank’s a real a-hole. He’s always trying to undermine me, make me doubt myself, and keep me small. He doesn’t think I deserve love and respect, from myself or others.
Once you’ve identified your version of Frank, it’s time to put him in his place, and then choose how you actually want to talk to yourself. My two favourite strategies for doing this are:
Change your thoughts. For specific tools on how to do this, check out my blog series on how to change your thoughts by clicking here HERE.
Talk to your Frank and tell him to be quiet. For example, your conversation might look like this:
Frank: “You’re never going to get that promotion. Everyone else who is up for it is smarter than you and has been here longer. You’re just not good enough.”
You: “Frank, I hear your concerns, but I’m just not buying them. I am talented, work hard and I have a good shot at the promotion. It’s time for you to shut up.”
2. Work Through the List
When you flip around the list of 12 Signs Your Relationship With Yourself Needs Work, you end up with a list of strategies for making improvements. But please, don’t tackle them all at once! Pick one or two, and work on those for a month or so or until you feel there has been some change. Then, move on to the next item.
Treat yourself with the same respect you treat others.
Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to others.
Set reasonable expectations of yourself.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, give yourself a break.
Accept yourself for who you are.
Be kind and compassionate with yourself.
Respect your own boundaries.
Give to others without expecting anything in return, and only as much as feels right. If you want something, ask for it.
Don’t allow people to take advantage of you.
Take care of yourself as well as you take care of others, if not better.
Regularly schedule time for yourself to do the things that fill your energy and happiness tanks.
By making these changes, you may well find that building a more loving and respectful relationship with yourself is easier than you thought. You can drastically alter the type of relationship you have with yourself, and by doing so, you will find all your other relationships improve, life becomes easier, and you feel happier.
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