As you get older, you slowly start to figure yourself out. You realize the type of people you want to surround yourself with and how you want to live your life. But honestly, none of that matters if you don't have a healthy relationship with yourself. While it might be easier to hold your outside influences accountable for how you feel, how you interact and experience life is usually determined by how you feel about yourself. With so much insight into other people's lives thanks to social media, it can be extremely hard to not compare yourself to others. But you need to remember that no one has what you can offer. It's important to embrace and love yourself for who you are, and one of the best ways to do that is by learning how to have a better relationship with yourself.
"This is such an important topic for today's age, where everyone is escaping into being constantly wired in, tuned in, and spaced out. Being present means being fully aware in the current moment, and paying attention. It is having all your senses — sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell — engaged, and not blocking them out," says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, in an interview with Bustle over email. "When you are present to yourself, you have an ongoing relationship with yourself, and you know in any moment what you think, how you feel, what you want, and consequently how to relate. Being present to yourself means being comfortable with your feelings, and also in charge of them, so you use your awareness to act thoughtfully rather than reacting impulsively."
While it can be easy to forget to put your needs first, especially if you live a busy lifestyle, it's important to remember that life will become easier when you try to have a better relationship with yourself.
1. Maintain Basic Self-Care
If you don't take care of your well-being, you probably won't feel great about yourself. Take at least an hour every day to do something just for you, whether that's trying out a new exercise class, reading a good book, or making yourself a meal.
"Basic self-care is the most important foundation for a positive relationship with yourself. Sleeping well and [keeping] it consistent (within reason try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning), drinking water —lots of it — every day, [and] eating regularly and on a schedule of healthy nutritious foods and exercise, every day. When you don't put your basic needs first, this sends a message to your brain [that] you are not important, your most basic needs are not being attended to, and you don't come first. It is a good idea to try to take care of your most basic needs early in the day such as breakfast, hygiene, and exercise prior to taking on responsibilities for others. If this is not possible, of course, try to fit them in when you can." says director of clinical health psychology at Behavioral Associates Michele Barton, Ph.D, in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. Allow Yourself Some Downtime
It's important to remember to give yourself some downtime. Just like when you exercise, you need to rest a few days after a long work week to let your body and mind heal. "Learn to meditate or just relax and focus on the moment. Learn to still the mindless chatter in your head, and create calm there. Negative self-talk brings you down and distracts you from actually being present in your own life," says Tessina.
3. Boost Your Self-Image
If you don't feel great about yourself, you should try to figure out a way to boost your self-image. You won't have a good relationship with yourself if you constantly criticize your every move. Sometimes it's easy to be your own worst enemy, especially when you're the only one who can hear your thoughts.
"How we care for ourselves is important, but how we view ourselves is equally critical. If your self-image is less than ideal, chances are that caring for yourself won’t be a priority. If you want to have good relationships with others, it’s often helpful to examine the relationship you have with yourself," says member of the International Coach Federation and principals of Ibis Coaching, LLC Lil LeBlanc in an interview with Bustle over email.
4. Let Go of Your Inner Perfectionist
For some, being a perfectionist comes naturally. It's they're type-A personality that fuels their lives. But even though that might seem like a good behavior to have, it could actually hinder them from having a healthy relationship with themselves. "Once we identify behaviors that stand in the way of a good self-relationship, we can develop strategies to address them," says LeBlanc.
5. Review Your Personal Successes
Sometimes it's easy to forget your personal successes when life isn't going the way you want or you're not happy with yourself. But a great way to overcome that negative mindset is by simply remembering how far you have come. "These strategies may include asking for candid feedback from loved ones, to see one’s self through another’s eyes, or a review of personal successes and accomplishments, with a focus on leveraging the proven methods of success for that individual person," says LeBlanc.
6. Maintain An Awareness Of Your Needs
While being there for others is important, you want to keep in mind that your needs are just as vital. Don't forget to have alone time, treat yourself every once in a while, and live the life you want. "Taking good care of yourself, maintaining awareness of what you need and fulfilling that need is a prerequisite to having better relationships with others," says LeBlanc.
7. Be Kind To Yourself
You want to treat yourself like how you would treat a friend: with empathy, compassion, and love. If you decide to be constantly hard on yourself, then you probably won't develop a healthy relationship with #1 (AKA you). "Our relationships with ourselves are probably the only relationship we actually have control of and that's on a good day. So remember you want to keep a friendly environment within yourself and try to keep things as consistent as possible as these are the only things we can actually control in this life," says Barton.
8. Embrace Your Failures
Let's be real: no one is perfect. It's important for you to embrace your failures and see them as accomplishments rather than roadblocks. It shows that you have tried and failed and learned. Trust me, that is way better than not trying at all. "What do you think about what's going on? How do you feel about [your day]? What do you want to do? Try beginning each day with a planning session: what you do want to get out of the day, and how do you plan to do it. Is anything coming up today that could be a problem? How do you want to approach it? Try ending each day with a debriefing session: review your day, and have a discussion with yourself about how it went, what you will do differently next time," says Tessina about ways to embrace your failures and challenges.
9. Be More Mindful
Being mindful isn't just about you meditating and doing yoga. It's about how aware you are with your surroundings and your personal journey. It's about being present in every moment you have, which in return, can make you have a better relationship with yourself. "Being present to the moment means you always know what's going on around you, and are available to take advantage of opportunities that come along at exactly the right moment. It also means you'll remember things and events more clearly," says Tessina.
Take a few moments and remember to love yourself. Embrace all your quirks, accomplishments and traits. You deserve to live your life to the fullest and that begins by having a better relationship with yourself.