I once read a quote that said the most important relationship we have in our lives is with ourselves. That really stood out to me as I think often we prioritize the relationships we have with our significant other, family members, friends, or even work, ahead of the relationship we have with ourselves. But, when it comes down to it, we need to live with ourselves day in and day out, so hopefully our relationship with ourselves is a positive one!
How can we evaluate this?
- Assess for self-talk.
Is your inner voice critical or encouraging? Are you asking yourself “why did you do this, that was so stupid?” or are you telling yourself “you did the best you could. Tomorrow is a new day.” How we talk to ourselves is a central piece in identifying our relationship with ourselves. Are you kind and encouraging to yourself or are you putting yourself down all day long? If you find you have a pretty negative inner critic, the most important piece is becoming aware of that. Once you are aware, you can then work towards modifying and reframing your thoughts to something more positive. Without the awareness, you won’t recognize the need for a change and will accept those negative thoughts at face value. If you’re really struggling with this, then look for a therapist who uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to help you with this.
- Who or what comes ahead of you?
Do you find you’re putting the needs of others ahead of your own? For example, are you putting off vacations because there’s too much to do at work? Are you doing things for others when you are already feeling burned out? Putting yourself first is not being selfish. The bottom line is you need to take care of yourself so you are able to do things for others.
- Self care.
Does this exist for you? It will be different for everyone, but self care is exactly what it says: what you are doing to take care of yourself. It may include things such as getting enough sleep, eating well, or exercising. It may be taking time to do enjoyable activities, such as reading a book, going for a walk, or getting a massage. It may be self reflection, such as journaling, meditation, or mindfulness activities. It also many include spending time with friends. Self care is what helps us to recharge and rejuvenate so we can then feel more balanced and better handle life stresses and responsibilities.
The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. Because of that, it’s essential that we make it a priority. Take some time to evaluate the relationship you have with yourself. Also, aim to schedule self care time in on at least a weekly basis and see if you notice a difference in how you feel.
Carolyn Cole, LCPC is a Chicago based therapist specializing in relationship counseling. With over 14 years clinical experience in a variety of settings working with adolescents and adults, individuals and couples her specialized training includes a focus on couples and family therapy including Gottman Method Couples Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Solution Focused Therapy.
You can email her directly firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 312-809-7017.