Are you so obsessed with your love or work relationships that you don’t even think about what kind of relationship you have with yourself? If the relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for EVERY other relationship you have, stop for a second and ask: “what kind of relationship do I have with myself?”
When you have a positive relationship with yourself, you ooze confidence and self-respect. You are content in yourself and your abilities, which makes you more resilient and hopeful about life. This sense of self stems from the esteem in which you hold yourself (your self-esteem).
Your self-esteem affects how you think, feel, and behave. Poor self-esteem affects your happiness and enjoyment of life – relationships, work, and goals. Worst of all, it affects those around you – whether it’s your partner, work colleagues or children.
The effect of poor self-esteem
Even the most confident and successful people can suffer from poor self-esteem. CEO’s suffer from imposter syndrome. Celebrities from poor self-image and lack of confidence. Musicians struggle with crippling shyness, anxiety, or depression.
In the short term, a break-up, illness, or retrenchment might affect your self-esteem in the short term. But, if you have a healthy sense of self, you will rebound quickly and still be able to think positively about yourself and the future.
Failures shouldn’t diminish your self-esteem. Successful people tend to credit themselves when things go right – and when they don’t, they look for the silver lining, find ways to improve and consider external causes. They don’t blame others for their mistakes or choices.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” – Audre Lorde
Signs that you don’t have a great relationship with yourself:
Do you feel insecure, compare yourself unfavourably with others and doubt or criticise yourself all the time? This graphic from verywellmind sums how many of us behave when we have low self-esteem:
If you exhibit some of these signs, you need to take a long, hard look at how you can develop a more positive relationship with yourself. Consciously or unconsciously, you are constantly devaluing yourself and making yourself more sensitive to criticism (whether your own and others). Remember, your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have!
Improve your relationship with yourself through the way you talk to yourself
It’s important to continuously evaluate the relationship you have with yourself. Would you speak to someone else the way you speak to yourself? Now imagine being in a relationship with someone you didn’t love, found to be deeply flawed, worthless and not good enough. Imagine being in this relationship forever, from childhood through to old age. Imagine this person being with you on your deathbed.
How would this relationship feel if you had to experience it?
How would this relationship affect your day-to-day life?
Why do you keep choosing to be in this relationship?
So what can you do to create a better relationship with yourself – and by default, improve your relationship with others?
Your relationship with yourself provides the template for your relationships with others. This is because your self-esteem determines your communication style, boundaries, and your ability to be intimate. Research indicates that a partner with healthy self-esteem can positively influence their partner’s self-esteem, but it also shows that low self-esteem can do the opposite, even serving to predict whether a relationship will survive.
To have a healthy relationship with yourself, you need to understand yourself and your own needs and wants. Knowing yourself and what you want makes it so much easier to express yourself. It also makes communication with others much easier.
Not only will you be able to stand up for everything you believe in, but if you have a healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll also appreciate a partner’s relationship with him/her/their/self – and their boundaries. Not only will you learn how to be assertive in how you want to be treated, but you’ll also appreciate the ways other people want or need to be treated themselves.
Sadly, if you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll feel like you’re constantly trying to prove yourself or win someone’s love, while never feeling truly lovable or enough. There’s absolutely nothing else that can fill this void of not knowing and loving yourself, no matter how hard you try to find love elsewhere.
Therapy can go a long way towards helping change how you think, act and what you believe about yourself. It helps you get outside your own thoughts and beliefs to see yourself from another perspective. But, if you’re not ready for therapy or some kind of life coaching there are still things you can try to improve your relationship with yourself – and become more loving towards the wonderful person you undoubtedly are. Flaws and all!
Blue-Footed Booby Success Formula: 3 ways to improve your relationship with yourself (and set the tone for every other relationship you have)
- Spend 10-15 minutes each day doing something that makes you feel good about yourself. Something that uplifts you and leaves you feeling positive – even if it’s something small like eating a healthy meal or having a scented bath listening to music.
- Think of something to be grateful for or something you appreciate about yourself and write it in your gratitude journal. Do this once or twice a week if you can.
- Listen to your thoughts. If you hear yourself engaging in negative self-talk, pretend to be your own big sister/friend/confidant/anyone who really cares about you. And even if there’s no one in your life like that, be your own imaginary friend. Change the words you say to yourself with kind, accepting and loving ones.
If you’ve had some luck improving your relationship with yourself, please share your experience in the comments below or shoot us an email.
This article was inspired by Robert Holden’s quote:
“The relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”
A British psychologist and spiritual teacher specialising in positive psychology, Robert Holden wrote a collection of poems called Finding Love Everywhere, and is the author of many thought-provoking books.