Updated: Feb 1
Relationships can be complicated, and the upcoming holidays can place additional stress on your relationships with friends, family, significant others, caregivers, co-workers, and extended family. Combine that with the fear and isolation COVID has brought upon everyone, it would be crazy to think that our relationships are not affected. How are you and your relationships emotionally preparing for the upcoming holidays? I have personally discovered that when I take the time to invest in my relationship with my Self, my relationships with others tend to improve.
Let’s be real, having a healthy relationship with oneself is, well, for lack of better words, healthy! It can be argued that it is the MOST important relationship a person will have, as it is the foundation to which all other relationships are built. I recently heard someone say to their friend "if you talk to your friends the same way you talk to your Self, then you might not have very many friends." So, how do we build a good relationship with our Self? Here are a few behaviors that I have found helpful:
Make Self-care a priority. Staying connected to and caring for your own physical, mental, and emotional needs (such as nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, and leisure activities) makes everything in life function better. Conscious Self-care then extends to creating healthy relationships with others.
Find Your People.
Connect with others who also practice Self-care. Many who practice Self-care seem to have a higher awareness of others’ needs and tend to treat others as they also want to be treated. Additionally, it's nice to be around people who have similar aspirations, as it provides everyone with a positive support network.
Smash Those Goals.
Set realistic, but optimistic, goals. Remember that building a healthy relationship with your Self is a process and is not instantaneous nor will it ever be perfect. So, stop putting that type of pressure on your Self. Unrealistic goals and timeframes often lead to failure, frustration, and negative Self talk. Solid, healthy, and trustworthy relationships with others are rarely ever created in the first moment of meeting, so do not expect that to happen with your relationship with your Self.
Create a plan for when disaster strikes. We all know that life can throw us lemons, and sometimes making lemonade is not always our first response to major bumps in the road. The most important thing to do in crisis situations is to avoid Self sabotage. So, when disaster hits, allow yourself a reasonable amount time to feel and process the plethora of emotions that may come to you. However, refer to your plan and follow it, so you do not return to old habits of Self maltreatment. This plan will be very personal to you, it may involve reaching out to a friend, journaling your emotional process, extra meditation time, or channeling your emotions into a craft or hobby. The better prepared you are to handle Self crisis, the easier it will be to get your Self out of crisis.
Find That Spark!
Participate in activities that bring you joy and spark passion. Some people are considered to be extremely successful but feel dead inside and physically exhausted. If you are lucky enough to be able to work at a job that is fulfilling and happy, that is great! However, that might not be possible for everyone, and as adults we know that work is many times essential to provide basic necessities for our Self and our families. So, if we do not love our job that's ok, but we need to find aspects of our job (no matter how small) that are meaningful to our Self. This also applies to activities in our personal life such as hobbies, community service, and recreation. If leisure activities don't spark joy and passion, then they are not serving our Self.
Know that it is impossible to 100% avoid toxic relationships. However, the better relationship you have with your Self, the better you can manage negative interactions and confidently set boundaries with persons who are careless with your feelings.
So, as we dive into this summer holiday season, and all of the love and insanity it may bring everyone, let's make sure to check in on our loved ones, but more importantly let's make sure to check in with our Self. When our Self feels cared for it is much easier and fulfilling to be present for those we love.
All the best,
Peer Support Advocate