The most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself – 24/7, 365 days of the year. The relationship you have with yourself is, like any other relationship, not always easy nor straight forward. It requires compassion, effort, kindness, patience, time and getting to know the person fully. Your relationship with yourself is important because it is vital to your own wellbeing and it provides a solid foundation for all other relationships you form in life, whether platonic or romantic.
Often we nurture others and prioritise our familial relationships, friendships and romantic relationships and, consequently, we fail to take time to invest in our relationship with ourselves. When we continually put ourselves last and seek completion or fulfilment solely in relationships outside of ourselves, we start feeling disconnected and dissatisfied. Developing a positive relationship with ourselves is a lifelong journey of discovery, acceptance and love, and it will look and feel subtly different for each of us. Nonetheless, it requires us to acknowledge that “I am my own responsibility” and that “I own my life, this is my story”. This realisation is actually incredibly empowering and exciting.
Developing a relationship with yourself means getting comfortable with spending time on your own and understanding who you are and who you are not – ask yourself those tricky questions and answer truthfully, try new things and revisit old pastimes to see what brings you joy and peace and learn to enjoy your own company. Working on yourself may also look like this:
– letting go of the past and forgiving yourself for mistakes
– accepting all parts of you
– having the courage to set healthy boundaries with yourself and others
– practicing self-compassion and self-care
– understanding your behaviours, beliefs, habits and thought patterns better
Once you have a healthy and deep relationship with yourself, you will forge better relationships with others and you will enter into a romantic relationship for the right reasons. No longer will you be searching for another to complete you or define you because you are capable of doing that for yourself. One of the best things I have experienced from being on my own and developing a loving relationship with myself is learning to fill all the spaces that I had used other people to fill. There is more work to do, but digging into past behaviours and emotional patterns has already led to significant growth. Learn to be your own best friend, your best resource and refrain from seeking external validation.
When I look back on many of my past relationships and friendships I now realise part of the reason why they were unhealthy, and sometimes completely toxic, was because of I had forgotten to work on the relationship with myself first. At that those times, I did not know how to fully accept and love myself and I did not value my own worth so I relied on other people to provide those things for me. I failed to have any boundaries and instead accepted crumbs of love and appreciation from others. I had set the standard for how people could treat me and the bar was lower than it should have been; it was a reflection of how little I thought of myself.
Where I am now is the product of my beliefs, views of self, my decisions and choices, allowing others to take me in certain directions and drifting through life unconsciously. No one and nothing is to blame. Where I am is my responsibility and as hard as it is I have to own and accept that and then work on living consciously and intentionally so I write my story. When I look back on some of my past relationships and friendships I realise now that the reason why it was unhealthy or toxic wasn’t just because of the other person but because of the most important relationship I forgot to work on. The relationship with myself. I didn’t know how to love or take care of myself, I didn’t value myself and have confidence that I am and always have been enough, just as I am. I relied on others to do that / provide that for me. Inevitably ending with those who treated me the same way I treated myself. I set the standard and the bar was lower than it should have been. So if I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to invest time in getting to know, accept and love yourself first and to not rely on anyone or anything outside of you to determine your self-worth.