A lot of us don’t acknowledge that we have a relationship with ourselves. I think of this as the invisible relationship, because who’s relating to who?
We tend to have the cruelest relationship with ourselves. We often say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to anyone else. “Why did I say that?!” “I’m so stupid!” “I look awful!”
We don’t think about it much. In fact, we barely notice it.
Each time we think bad things about ourselves is a reinforcement of a belief about how we should be treated.
Our early experiences and perceptions form our unconscious ideas of how we are meant to be treated. Ironically, even if we don’t like the way we were treated, it becomes a big part of our template for our relationship with ourselves.
Another contributor to our belief about how to treat ourselves comes from observing our parents. How did they treat themselves?
On the other hand, most of us were overtly taught to treat others with respect and consideration. Because we were consciously shown how to treat people, it comes relatively easy.
Most of us were not taught to be compassionate and accepting toward ourselves. Because of this, unless we become conscious of our relationship with ourselves, we will continue to criticize and judge ourselves harshly. When we are more conscious, we can choose to be respectful and loving towards ourselves.
When we are unconscious, we frequently don’t even notice that we’re saying anything to ourselves at all. But really, we’re talking to ourselves in our heads all day long.
Self and Selves
The truth is, there are many different parts of self. We might have five different voices in our head at any given time that can even be disagreeing with each other.
We’re thinking all day long, and if we really pay attention, we will notice that it’s almost like we have several different people living in our head. We often call this phenomenon “inner dialogue” or “self-talk.”
You might have a voice that’s harsh and critical and tells you that what you’re doing is wrong.
You might have a voice that is silly and whimsical.
And maybe you have a voice that is afraid and reactively says “No!” When you listen to that voice you back away from a new opportunity even though another part of you wants to take a risk.
It is normal to have many parts to ourselves., We have an inner committee and each member of the committee is speaking from their perspective.
It’s much easier to understand the relationship with self if you recognize that you aren’t just one.
How to have a great relationship with yourself
The great thing about acknowledging these voices is that we can begin to learn about each part and recognize its unique role in trying to take care of us.
As we become more conscious, we have less inner conflict. We stop seeing aspects of our self as wrong or bad, and instead form a loving relationship with each part. This is a powerful step in self-healing.
Step 1: Compassion
Begin by having compassion for yourself and for the voice or voices in your mind. Remember, they’re all there for a reason. They all want to protect you or take care of you even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface.
They’re all looking to be loved, acknowledged, and keep you from harm.
Let’s say you are beating yourself up for a making a “mistake.”
You can acknowledge that part of you that is being harsh and be curious. Perhaps upon further inquiry with that part, you discover that that part is afraid of not being perfect or is afraid of being punished. Whatever the case, you can care about that part without giving it control.
Approach each voice with compassionate curiosity and know it’s another part of you that just wants to be heard and loved.
Step 2: Acknowledge them, but remember who’s in charge
You can love a certain voice, but it doesn’t mean you give it power in your life.
They can all come along for the ride, but you get to choose who’s in charge, that is, if you are conscious.
For example, you don’t have to abandon your plans to the fearful voice that doesn’t want you to start a business because you might fail. When you are compassionately curious you might say to that part of you, “I see you. Tell me, what are you are afraid of?” Address the concern seriously, just as you would a child’s fear. Validate the feeling of fear without necessarily giving control to the fear.
Then from a place of consciousness, choose your next step.
It does take a little practice, but it gets easier! You might find that when you heal your relationship with yourself, it’s easier to heal relationships with other people. Give it a try!