The relationship you have with yourself is possibly the most important one you will ever have. Everything else, including altruism, is built on the foundation of self-relationship. Negative narcissism, overwhelming shame about oneself, highly solipsistic attitudes, an inability to relate to and sympathize with others, and so on are all pathological forms of self-relatedness. It’s also simple to recognize characteristics that we link with individuals who look to be in good shape, to have their act together, to have good interpersonal skills, to be successful by traditional definitions, and so on. It’s all too easy to take things for granted—even being able to focus on oneself in this way is a sign of being extremely fortunate.
So How can I have a good relationship with myself?
This is a list of everything I’ve come up with so far. Much of it will be familiar, but much of it is worth repeating. It’s easy to give up on routines, even if they’re good for us, because they become monotonous. Hopefully, some of this offers a fresh viewpoint in some manner.
1. Make a conscious effort to cultivate awareness and set an aim.
Set the overarching objective of maintaining a positive connection with oneself throughout time, with the awareness that what this means will change over time.
2. Make short, medium, and long-term plans.
Setting objectives over different time periods is a crucial element of being deliberate about establishing a healthy relationship with oneself. Setting realistic goals and milestones and actions for each goal has been shown to help people stay on track. Recognize that short-term motivation is generally centered on reward (for example, feeling fantastic because you started a new class you’ve always wanted to attend), but that long-term drive is more about habit maintenance and avoiding quitting new activities. As a result, a good general recipe is to combine novelty with long-term satisfaction. Long-term benefits are an investment that pays off later—often just when you need them—but it’s easy to get caught up in the short-term joy.
3. Develop a curious and accepting mindset.
Recognize that change is unavoidable and, in most cases, beneficial to welcome without fear. Only with time can we begin to notice aspects that are actually steady and can help us define who we are to ourselves and others. However, be aware of making changes that haven’t been well investigated, or of making decisions that don’t seem or feel right in some aspects, or of becoming caught in indecision.
4. Make basic self-care a priority.
The cornerstones of long-term self-care are sleep, nutrition, activity, rest, recreation, and mental habits. These are the fundamental behavioral components of having a positive connection with oneself. Being in touch with one’s body and caring for it as a good steward as well as holistically is essential, and taking care of one’s bodily requirements makes everything else operate better and shows us that we care about ourselves on a regular basis. Rather than sentiments of betrayal, this fosters trust in oneself over time. Mental habits are a type of behavior that can take a long time to change, but they’re just as vital and easy to overlook—and even more difficult to sustain when hungry, unfit, sleep-deprived, or lacking in play, affection, or rest in one’s life, whether alone or with others.
5. Take care of yourself.
This does not imply abdicating responsibility or “letting oneself off the hook,” but it does imply striving toward self-appraisal without destructively aggressive criticism or blaming. When it comes to self-appraisal and self-correction, people are frequently blame-dependent, and excessive blaming frequently leads to less effective transformation. Accept blaming to the extent that it is unavoidable, but strive to be kind and kind while also being honest and taking responsibility.
6. Look for people who share your objectives.
Apart from being surrounded by individuals who treat you well, it’s beneficial to have relationships with others who are also trying to improve their relationship with themselves, both because they are wonderful role models and because you can encourage one another in your efforts. For most of us, it’s impossible to totally avoid toxic people, so manage those interactions with caution.