There are so many topics I can discuss on self-development but I always have a difficult time coming up with a focus each month. I’m also not an expert in self-development, so I have to choose topics that I feel comfortable discussing and topics that I know will be beneficial to my readers. For the month of November I decided to blog about Relationships. One of my instagram followers suggested more topics on relationship advice which is intimidating for me because like most people, I’m still trying to figure relationships and people out lol.
I want to spend a little time explaining the title. If you’re an avid selfcareatforty reader, then you know that a few months ago I did a four part series on Aggressively Editing Your Life. I want to take a similar approach with this month’s focus because relationships aren’t one size fits all. A romantic relationship is different from the relationship you have with your friends, and the relationship you have with yourself is not the same as the relationship you have with others; even though it impacts the relationship you have with others.
I chose to focus on relationship with self first because as I previously mentioned, it impacts the relationship we have with others. Establishing a good relationship with yourself sets the foundation for how you allow others to treat you, and how you choose to treat others (read that again). Next week I will talk about friendships, and I will end the month with romantic relationships. I chose to end with romantic relationships because I think it’s really important for us to establish a friendship before we start a romantic relationship. Let me be clear, this is not a series that’s meant to be a guide to starting a romantic relationship, my goal is to provide some concrete factors and ideas to establish a healthy relationship in each category.
This is by far one of my favorite quotes from my all time favorite tv show and I think it describes relationships perfectly: “Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you, you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”–Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City.
I wanted to start off with that quote because the last two sentences speaks volumes; it’s the poster child for what a relationship with ourselves should be like, but a lot of us neglect forming a solid relationship with self (notice I didn’t say perfect). I think this lack of relationship with self is evident when we try to find ourselves in others, when we struggle to leave relationships that aren’t good for us, and when we have a difficult time spending time alone. Some people treat time by themselves like it’s a punishment or a crime. But forming a solid relationship is hard because most of us don’t know what it means, what it looks like, or where to start. These are the three factors I think we should consider (in no particular order) when trying to establish a solid relationship with ourselves:
Self-Love I want to be fully transparent here. About 10+ years ago I struggled with understanding what self-love meant. It seems pretty self explanatory but it felt like it should be deeper than just those two words. On the surface it sounds like it should be just as simple as saying I love you self. But then what? Just saying I love you self are just words until you formulate the meaning. Throughout the years I’ve learned that self-love means loving yourself unconditionally, it means accepting who you are (flaws and all), it means if there’s something you don’t like about yourself you love it and you anyway. The complete opposite is constantly criticizing yourself because you want to change things about your physical appearance, constantly comparing yourself to others (even though their lives aren’t perfect either). Self-love is a journey–it takes time, practice, and it will change because we change.
The Way We Treat Others believe it or not the way we treat other people says a lot about how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes when we’re harboring a lot of anger, self-hate, and frustration with ourselves and our lives we take it out on those around us (even if it’s not intentional). I think this negativity occurs when we choose not to deal with our problems in a healthy way. If you’re not sure if you fall in this category, take an assessment of your behavior. Read text messages you send to friends, what you post on social media, and the way you speak to people. Pay attention to the tone behind the messages and the way you were feeling when you said it and see what comes up for you.
The Behaviors We Accept this goes hand in hand with the above. When people’s treatment towards us is less than we deserve and we accept it, (i.e. staying in bad relationships—friendship or romantic ones) it’s a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and a clear indication that we lack self-love. People who love themselves know their worth despite what others may think or say about them. Accepting poor treatment from others can be dangerous and it can potentially lead to other forms of abuse. If you fall in this category you may want to consider getting professional help. Professionals are trained to help us see the things we refuse to accept and help us work through these issues.
I’ll end here but I don’t think this blog scratches the surface for this topic but I hope it’s a good start. It might sound easy to some but this is not over night work. Depending on how deep in the trenches you are, you might really need to seek out professional help to guide you along this journey. I wouldn’t consider these ideas a 1-2–3 step guide to establishing a relationship with self, they are more like conversational pieces. You can use them as journal prompts because journaling can easily help you unpack some feelings around these factors. You can also use these when you do some self reflecting to help you figure out where you land in each category and what steps you want to take to make changes.
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