The relationship that you maintain with yourself serves as the foundation for all of your relationships. A healthy personal relationship allows you to embrace both your strengths and weaknesses. This involves recognizing your strong suits and the things that you admire about yourself, while also acknowledging the areas where you may not excel.
You don’t have to like everything about yourself; this isn’t the point. The goal here is to accept the things about yourself that you can’t change and grow as you learn from the things you can change. The more you learn about yourself and the depths of your internal emotions, the more you will be able to do the same in your other relationships. Here are eight ideas for how to cultivate a better relationship with yourself.
Make Time for Daily Reflection
Ask yourself these questions on a regular basis: “How am I feeling? What am I thinking? Why am I feeling this way?” Reflecting on your answers will help you better understand where you’re at emotionally and more importantly, why you feel this way. You’ll become more self-aware in your thoughts and feelings, which will allow you to formulate healthy solutions moving forward.
It can be difficult to get into the habit of practicing reflection on a daily basis. Start slowly, and over time, it will begin to feel like a natural part of your routine. Try meditating during a time of day that feels best for you or even multiple times a day. You can also practice reflection through writing. Simply jot down your thoughts in a journal or create an entry on your computer/phone. Let your thoughts flow freely and see where they take you.
Figuring out your likes and dislikes is a huge part of personality development and distinguishing yourself in the world. Your preferences create identity labels, both given by the outside world and internally within yourself. There are endless lists of labels you can fall under, but these don’t necessarily define you.
Here’s a little psychology behind this phenomenon. You identify as someone who loves rock music and action movies. Because of this identification, you don’t waste your time with classical music or romantic comedies. You do this because you already see yourself as this one type of person, and if you branch out into other categories, you won’t know exactly how to label yourself, right? Although this is a very simple example, you may be experiencing something similar in a larger way.
Acknowledging your curiosities will give you the ability to grow as an individual and break down some of the barriers that labels have constructed. Once you begin improving your curiosity, you’ll develop an increased sense of awareness within yourself and the world around you.
Initiate a Creative Outlet
Part of acknowledging your curiosity involves finding a creative outlet for you to express yourself and confront your emotions as you feel them. Regular creative practices, such as dancing or listening to music, enable you to have more emotional control and exercise self-reflection.
Exercising your creativity relieves stress, renews brain function, improves mood, and cultivates an overall feeling of connectedness. Establishing a creative outlet is personal, so it may take some time before you find the one that resonates with you the most. A few forms of creative outlets include anything from practicing photography to tidying up and decluttering.
Help Someone Else
Putting the effort into helping someone else can actually help you in return. When you comfort or offer advice to others, a part of you is reflecting on your past and inner emotions. It puts you in touch with your own feelings and helps you develop empathy toward others.
This also works if you offer your time and energy to a cause you’re passionate about. When you feel a higher level of social connectedness, your self-esteem will increase as well. Additionally, helping others can lead to increased levels of optimism and positive mood. So go ahead, show others empathy and you’ll start to feel it for yourself in turn.
Find Balance in the Give and Take
Learning to balance how much you give and how much you take can be difficult. If you’re someone who’s constantly doing things you don’t want to do or you’re continuously putting others’ needs before your own, you’re giving too much. If you don’t acknowledge your wants and needs in your relationships with others, you’re denying yourself the internal happiness you deserve.
On the other hand, if you find that you get easily upset when things don’t go your way or you are extremely picky when it comes to what you want, you’re taking too much. Life isn’t perfect and you can’t always get what you want. If you notice you fall into this category, you may be someone who’s given a lot to other people in the past or feels that the world owes you for your life’s struggles.
Regardless of what category you fall under, it’s important to reflect and find a balance in your relationships in order to maintain a better relationship with yourself. It will be a process, but you will also feel a weight lifted off your shoulders once you strike a balance.
Choose Your Inner Circle Carefully
Who you allow close to you greatly influences who you are and represents the relationship you have with yourself. A healthy personal relationship stems from having a healthy, supportive, and genuine inner circle. That’s why it’s important to learn how to identify toxicity in your relationships and cut out anyone who negatively impacts your well-being.
They say you’re a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. When you think about this, what characteristics of your inner circle come to mind? Which ones, if any, do you see as less desirable? It’s incredibly important to protect your time and energy, which all starts with being more selective with your inner circle.
Switch Up Your Internal Dialogue
The conversations you have with yourself can eminently affect your overall confidence and happiness. First, think about the words you use to describe yourself when something undesirable happens in your relationship. Do you blame yourself or maybe even feel pity? If you find that you’re calling yourself stupid or ugly, or maybe even think, “Why is this happening to me?”, it’s important to quickly change the script.
No one is perfect and failure is inevitable. However, how you speak to yourself affects how you speak aloud and how you view yourself as a person. When you feel the negative thoughts start to creep in, stop, take a breath, and re-center. Although it’s easier said than done, there are a few key steps to change that negative voice inside your head to create a more productive inner dialogue.
Forgiveness is tough, whether you’re giving it to someone else or accepting it yourself. It’s a release of intimate and negative emotions to make room for feelings of calmness and positivity. Learning to develop and strengthen your relationship with yourself takes time and patience. Some days you may be doing really well with your inner relationship, while other days you may not be. Forgive yourself when things aren’t working and reflect on the times when they have; what was different?
A big part of forgiving yourself is letting go of your past, which can be really difficult. With time, you can begin to focus more on how you can better yourself moving forward. Life is a learning lesson and everybody makes mistakes, but it’s about learning from them and moving onward. You got this!