“Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first,” Carrie Bradshaw.
I specialise in relationships. When clients and potential clients hear that, the assumption is that I work with couples – which I do, however I also have many individual clients who have neglected their own relationship with themselves.
It is how we relate to ourselves that has a huge impact on our relationships with others.
We learn about ourselves from our first social environment – our families. Some of us grow into adulthood with set beliefs that we are unworthy, not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough, and the list goes on, and as a result, we may look externally to define who we are. We are often under pressure to be who others want us to be.
If we do not have a strong internal sense of who we are, then how are we able to fulfill the human need for connection with others.
Here are some tips that can assist you in being more real or authentic in your relationships:
Look after your health: Eat in a healthy way. Do not regard food as a reward or punishment, but as fuel for your body – eat to provide yourself with energy. Exercise to keep yourself fit. Research has shown that exercise lowers stress hormones and raises “feel good” hormones. Find an activity that you enjoy. After all if you are constantly angry and under stress, your internal dialogue reflects this and the negativity has an impact on your relationships with others. If you can demonstrate self-care, you are capable of caring for others.
Connect with others who make you feel good about yourself. Connect with those that you feel comfortable with and with people that allow you to be more of yourself. People who are supportive towards you and who have similar values to yours – they will bring out the best in you. Do things that develop who you are rather than define who you are. Make a list of who you are and seek out those with similar traits and interests. If you have toxic friends – now is the time to place limits on when you see them.
Have compassion for yourself: This is extremely difficult when life hasn’t turned out the way it was supposed to be. Don’t judge yourself harshly, don’t set the bar so high that you can never reach that perfect goal – accept responsibility when it is yours and don’t take on more. Give yourself a break from criticism – if you can practice this with yourself you will be far more open and real with others. If you can recognise behaviours that are no longer working, take small steps towards change. Find a new way to be. Stop comparing yourself to others as you will only judge yourself harshly. Finally, practice gratitude – it helps!
Live according to your values: make decisions in your life, because they match your values, not because you want to be part of the crowd or because you want to control the behaviour of others. Do things because you choose to, and take responsibility for the outcome. If something doesn’t sit well with you: speak out. Managing conflict is a part of all relationships. This is the only way that others will know who you really are.
Have fun: It can so liberating to do something outside the square. Sometimes its good to “break the rules”.
Imagine what its like to be with you: try to imagine how other people experience you. Take the time to listen to yourself and listen to feedback from those around you. Don’t take it as criticism, have the courage to own the parts of you that you don’t want to see. We all have them.