"The most important relationship you have in life is the relationship you have with yourself."
It wasn't the first time I'd heard that phrase, but for some reason it really resonated with me this time. Most people who want to live positively present lives spend time improving their relationships with others. These relationships have such an impact on our lives and we want to make them as good as we can, but what about the relationships we have with ourselves? How much time do we spend on those? Probably not as much as we should.
Cultivating a good relationship with yourself might seem selfish. You might argue that your efforts are better spent on improving your relationships with others. But, in reality, it is selfish not to have a good relationship with yourself because your relationship with yourself is the foundation for all other relationships. Without loving, respecting, and accepting yourself, it's much more difficult (if not impossible) to love, respect, and accept others. Having a good relationship with yourself is essential to having good relationships with others.
Even if you recognize the importance of having a good relationship with yourself, you'll probably still find it difficult. Like any relationship, there are ups and downs, compromises and conflicts. The internal struggles we all face are some of the most difficult we encounter in life. That said, creating a good and loving relationship with yourself is possible, albeit challenging at times. Similar to connecting with others, connecting with yourself requires patience, time, and kindness.
It takes time to improve your relationship with yourself -- and, like any relationship, it's an ever-changing connection. The twists and turns of life will change you. You will have to learn to grow with yourself, change when necessary, and pay attention to your current state. However, as difficult as it can be to work on your relationship with yourself, what Diane Von Furstenberg said is true: it's the most important relationship you have. Below are some ideas for how to make the most of it.
5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Yourself
1. Ask + Listen. If you were trying to improve your relationship with a friend or a loved one, you'd probably talk to him or her about the relationship. Keeping the lines of communication open in any relationship is key -- and the same is true for the relationship you have with yourself. Ask yourself questions frequently and really listen to the answers. Below are some questions you can consider, questions that will hopefully help you understand yourself a bit better. It's that understanding that will help you create a better relationship with yourself.
What makes me feel really happy? Or unhappy?
What do I want from my life? Am I getting it?
What actions do I take to make myself feel good? Bad?
What bad habits or patterns get in the way of my happiness?
What positive/negative words do I use to describe myself?
What do I love most about myself? Why?
2. Give + Receive. All relationships are about give and take. You have to not only be willing to give love, time, and energy to a relationship, but you also have to be willing to accept what's given to you as well. There are many people who struggle with accepting love, especially when it comes to loving themselves. Self-love can seem selfish, but it's not. (Check out 5 Reasons Self-Love Is Not Selfish for more on this). In your relationship with yourself, you have to be willing to both give love and accept love. You have to be open to loving yourself. Give yourself time, give yourself patience, give yourself love. And be opening to receiving love -- not only from yourself, but from others as well.
3. Appreciate + Thank. One essential element of a good relationship is appreciation. In your relationship with yourself, appreciation is also vital. Just as you would tell a friend or loved one how much you appreciate him or her, you must also tell yourself how appreciative you are. Just think of all the things you do for yourself in a day! From satiating your hunger to working diligently at work or school to spending time doing things you love, you spend a lot of time and energy doing things for yourself. Don't take these things for granted. Be thankful that you can do these things and appreciate your ability to do them. Be grateful for yourself -- for your body, your mind, your heart -- and make an effort to share that appreciation, even if it's just a mental pat on the back.
4. Accept + Forgive. No relationship is perfect. You'll do things or say things that do the exact opposite of improving your relationship with yourself. It's tempting to dwell on our flaws and missteps, but doing so only harms your relationship with you. In order to improve the relationship, you must accept yourself as you are. You must accept what is flawed and forgive yourself for your imperfections. Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them, and then forgive yourself for them. Recognize the ways you are flawed and choose to accept yourself for who you are. Not a single one of us is perfect and that's ok. Accept and forgive.
5. Respect + Consider. Respect is another key aspect of a good relationship. It's impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone without respecting him or her. Same goes for your relationship with you. In order to have a good relationship with yourself, you must respect yourself. Think about this carefully. It's easy to say you respect yourself, but do you really? How do you treat yourself? Talk about yourself? Think about yourself? Make sure that you are always respectful of yourself. And along with respect comes consideration. Consider yourself when making choices in your life. Consideration is important in any relationship. Don't omit it in the relationship you have with yourself.
You're probably well-aware of the fact that creating a good relationship with yourself doesn't always come easily. But don't give up. When it's difficult, remind yourself of how important it is, of how important you are. The more you can improve your relationship with yourself, the more you can improve your relationship with others. Coincidentally, the five tips above can be used not only for your relationship with yourself, but your relationships with others as well. The relationships in our lives are intricately woven together, each of them tied to one very important element: you. So don't neglect that vital relationship with yourself. After all, it's the one relationship you've had -- and will continue to have -- for your entire life.