Improve Your Relationship With Yourself
We worry a lot about our relationships with others. We go so far as to obsess over what someone else (a boss, co-worker, spouse, or friend) thinks about us. We don’t like that we do; but it happens to all of us. Even strangers on the street can cause us to doubt our self-worth. I can’t help but wonder how we’d feel if we cared equally, if not more, about what our Self thinks about who we are.
Why is it so hard to have a trusting, supportive relationship with the most important person in our lives?
But wait. I want to be understanding. Sadly, it’s not 100% your fault. We aren’t taught how to develop a relationship with ourselves. Up until the last ten years, it was hardly even mentioned! And if it was, people scoffed at the idea, made fun of it, or simply labeled it good, old-fashioned narcissism. I’m kind of feeling pretty bad for those folks right now.
Because today, it’s common knowledge that a poor relationship with yourself (i.e. low self-esteem, poor self-awareness, inadequate self-care) leads to:
- Difficulty in relationships
- Inability to get what you want (ineffectiveness)
- Lack of motivation/passion/purpose
- Feelings of being left out or not good enough
- Desire to control everything and everyone (fear)
- Irresponsibility (blaming others instead)
We’ve come to accept these symptoms as the “normal” human condition in society. But they’re actually a result of not having developed a good relationship with the Self. The problem is pervasive and destructive to our social structure.
The best thing you can do for the World right now is improve your relationship with yourself. The benefits will spill over into everything you touch, a little like the effects of King Midas, but in a good way.
Paying Attention to Your Self
As a people, we’ve developed a strong tendency to ignore or override our inner voice/knowing. And it’s usually because we don’t like what we hear from it. We don’t want to believe or listen to what it is trying to tell us. That we could be kinder or more patient. That we probably shouldn’t drink so much or yell at the kids when we’re tired. That the guy we’re dating isn’t really right for us. It’s probably pissed off that we’ve been trying to go it alone for so long and frustrated with the ways we’ve messed things up. None of us like to hear the words, “I told you so.” So we ignore it’s pleas for change and override its warnings. We think we know best.
We ignore our inner wisdom and instead we pay attention to what we hear/see/experience in the external world; as if it were the authority on who we are.
Sadly, it’s not.
Choose to Listen to Your Inner Wisdom
To improve your relationship with yourself you must make an intention, a conscious choice to listen to your inner voice of wisdom. You must make time and commit to regular get-togethers. It’s like sitting down over a cup of coffee with yourself, it needs to happen daily.
A lot of people do this in 20-30 minutes of meditation. Some people do it while walking in nature. It’s even okay to sip your coffee, stare out a window and listen to the quiet. Create a welcome space for your own inner wisdom to speak to you. It’s about getting quiet and listening. Desire to know what you’ve been missing about yourself. Believe me – you have no idea!
Exercise Patient Listening
Most of us have developed a habit of tuning out “that voice.” We fill moments of silence (when the Self would naturally try to make contact) with distractions, television, radio, social media, videos, gaming, etc. Even when your inner voice tries to sneak in a word of advice or warning in the quiet hours of the morning, you roll over, cover your head and pray for it to be quiet.
If you’ve been ignoring your Self for some time now, be forewarned, it’s going to take a while for your inner knowing to trust you. When you sit quietly, you can’t expect immediate conversation. It’s like demanding a three-year-old tell you the truth. And instead they just stare at you dumb-faced in silent terror, wondering what’s safe to say. Exercise patience with yourself as a new practice toward self-care. See above for how to make time to listen.
Develop a Creative Practice
Everyone has a creative urge! And you need to express that urge to create a healthy relationship with yourself. So often I hear people say, “I’m not creative.” Hell, I used to say it myself, all the while making stuff, writing, dancing, etc. I had a poor idea about what it means to be creative. I thought it only applied to people who were producing things that could be seen or sold. Wrong! A creative practice is anything that allows the mind/body to work in unison, directed by a deeper desire (the soul).
When we give our soul a clean canvas, a blank page, open space, an hour of time, silence and freedom, we invite an unscripted conversation to occur. Creativity allows for all of our feelings to exist, even in contradiction…especially in contradiction. Not making sense is the trademark of the human condition even though we want to deny it. Confusion and contradiction make us feel vulnerable and yet they exist for everyone at times. We need a safe place to explore, accept and honor those parts of who we are.
Get Curious About Yourself
A creative practice is a spiritual dialogue of sorts. Through our practice, whether it’s yoga, painting, gardening, music, drumming, dancing, climbing, drawing, writing, cake decorating, macrame, or any other mind/body activity, we give our soul permission to express. In the beginning it may seem a little quiet, but given time and an honest curiosity for what might be revealed (it’s not always pretty or socially acceptable) our creative urges can teach us about who we are. About our real beauty, our innate wisdom, our desire, needs, boundaries, wounds and most of all our resilience, our ability to carry on despite it all – just because life is worth it.
Befriend Your Inner Self
As you befriend yourself, you empower yourself to make necessary lifestyle changes, advocate for your own greatness, and remind yourself that you’re going to be fine when things get really tough. You’re the best voice of support you need. Spend time developing a dialogue with your soul and self-love will emerge. One of the greatest hurdles we face is our need to be accepted. When we stop trying to please others, we can put our own needs for safety and self-expression first. When we can successfully do that, then we are better able to “be there” for others in a healthy, loving way. The greater your relationship with yourself, the stronger your compassion, forgiveness, and understanding muscles become.
Maybe your New Year’s resolution? Improve your relationship with yourself. Don’t waster any more time trying to “be what others expect.” Create time and space to listen and the freedom to express your Self. You’ll NEVER regret it.