Our lives are all about relationships. No matter if we are at home, surrounded by family, at work, meeting with friends, or pursuing a hobby – relationship are always involved. We mean different things to different people. And we are different things to different people. But it all starts with the relationship we have with ourselves.
I like how Ed Sheeran expresses this thought in his current song ‘Save Myself’:
“So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself.
And before I blame someone else, I’ve got to save myself.
And before I love someone else, I’ve got to love myself.”
We can’t blame other people for what happens to us. Life doesn’t just happen to us. We are not victims of our own lives. Instead, we can actively shape our life deciding which path we want to take next. And if we know ourself and have a healthy, loving self-relationship, we are able to make good and meaningful decisions. We cannot expect other people to provide us with things we cannot even give to ourself, can we? That is why it is so important to work on the relationship we have with ourself. But how exactly can we do that?
1. Speak Kindly With Yourself
Firstly, we need to observe how we are currently treating ourselves and speaking with ourselves.
I would like you to imagine you and your best friends. How do you interact with your best friends? Think about your gestures, words, actions and everything that is involved in your relationship. Do you check up on them often? Regularly tell them how important they are to you? Surprise them? Tell them honestly if you think they need to change something, are too stressed etc.?
And now, think about yourself. How do you talk to yourself? How do you think about yourself? Do you check up on yourself regularly? Do you tell yourself that you like and love yourself the way you are? Are you treating yourself to things you enjoy? Are you honestly telling yourself if something is going wrong?
Your main question should be: Are you treating yourself the way you would be treating your best friend?
Observe yourself closely and monitor which thoughts you have about yourself during the day. Being aware of your thoughts and knowing that you can regulate them is a first important step to improving your self-relationship. If you notice you are having negative thoughts about yourself, you know that you need to work on this and gradually train yourself to think positive thoughts.
2. Prioritise Self-Care
In addition to the things you think about yourself and say to yourself, you also need to make sure you always look after yourself. This includes making sure you are getting enough sleep at night and giving yourself periods of rest during the day. Moreover, you should watch your eating habits as nutrition is also a main factor of self-care. Exercise and regular activity are important as well, as exercise can not only improve your physical appearance, but also your mental state.
What’s most important to remember about this second point is the fact that we only have this one body we have been given. I have the feeling that a lot of people take this for granted, but we really shouldn’t. We need to look after our body and our mental health. Prioritising ourselves is not selfish, but crucial to our wellbeing.
3. Cultivate Good Habits
The third step is a result of the first and the second: Once you have grasped how you can think better about yourself and take better care about yourself, you want to make sure you do these things on a regular basis. Good habits are necessary for a healthy self-relationship. That does not mean that you always have to do the same things, but you need to establish habits that make you feel positive about yourself.
I believe it helps to have a plan and actually write things you would like to do down in your diary, even if they only take two minutes. For the point of being kind with ourselves these could be something like “Two things I love about myself”, or “Something I am proud of today”. You can write them down or just tell yourself. There are great diaries out there who have pre-written ideas, for example the wellbeing diary from kikki.K. As for self-care, you could make appointments for treatments, coffee with friends, gym classes or simply write down that you want to have a bath that day or you are going to cook yourself a healthy meal. All these little events during your day will step by step help you to be more positive about yourself and improve your self-relationship.
There are a lot more things to mention about the relationship we have with ourselves, but these three things are basic elements of a healthy self-relationship and a good way to get started. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about the topic.