With the month of love just behind us, we want to remember to carry this feeling into the rest of the year. It’s important to remember that whether you’re dating someone or not, one relationship that’s always with you is the relationship with yourself.
Despite this, it’s often the most neglected relationship we have. We can’t manifest the perfect partner, but we CAN learn to be more caring, kind and loving to ourselves. How?
- Notice how you treat yourself. Do you treat yourself with the same level of patience and compassion you show others? Often you’re not aware of how harsh you are towards yourself. To change this, you need to notice it happening.
- Find ways to be kind, patient and compassionate with yourself. This doesn’t mean having to do anything in particular, other than allowing yourself the grace to be a human. Humans make mistakes, have difficult days and aren’t always productive. Instead of getting frustrated with yourself or feeling guilty when you’re not doing your best, can you learn to show yourself some patience and compassion?
For example, if your friend is feeling stressed out before an exam because they couldn’t study as much as they wanted to, because they were dealing with some problems at home, do you judge them and tell them they’re lazy and should have studied harder? Or do you show them some kindness and remind them that they did their best considering everything they were going through at the time?
Even though we always want to expect the best from ourselves – especially when it comes to our school work – it’s not always helpful to be rigid with these expectations. When you’re not okay, it helps to adjust your expectations accordingly so they’re more realistic for where you’re at.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you learn how to notice your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, without judgment!
Here’s an example of why this helps.
Say you’re about to write an exam, but instead of focusing on the exam in the present moment, you start focusing on:
- The past – “I should have studied harder”
- The future – “what if I fail”
- Negative assumptions of what you think others’ think – “everyone things I’m a failure”.
The problem is, you can’t control these things, and the more you focus on what you can’t control, the more stressed you become. The more stressed you become, the harder it is to write your exam in the present moment.
Judging yourself for how you feel or what you’re going through isn’t helpful, because it ends up adding extra difficult feelings into the mix and maintains your awareness on the thing you’re struggling with in the first place.
- Express yourself. Letting your thoughts and feelings out helps to not get stuck focusing on them when you’re trying to get something done, relax or enjoy yourself.
Directly expressing yourself helps – whether this means speaking to someone you trust, writing in a journal, allowing yourself to cry, punching something soft or letting your anger out by screaming into a pillow, as long as you’re not harming yourself or others.
Indirectly expressing yourself also helps. You can do this through exercising, artistic activities, listening or playing music, dancing, poetry and more.
- Do things that make you feel happy, comforted or soothed. You can’t take difficult experiences away, but you can learn to balance them out with experiences that soothe you and bring you happiness.
For example, it’s normal to feel stressed about exams, because you care about your marks. So you can’t necessarily take stress away, but you can learn to balance it out by doing something that relaxes you.
This can be anything from a cup of tea, listening to music, re-watching a favourite movie, taking a bath, getting a hug or having a guilt-free nap.
Learning that you have a relationship with yourself is an important first step in developing a loving relationship with yourself. If you’re not sure how to show yourself love, you can at least start by not being mean or harsh with yourself.