Everyone wants to feel connected to themselves, but what exactly does that mean? Does it speak to some sort of effortless existence where we strut around feeling high on life all the time? More confidence, more control and more purpose? Is it something everyone just has? Do we take a pill for this?
Consider the word connection.
The very word implies a relationship between two things. To be connected to ourselves then, must mean that we have a relationship with ourselves. How great of a connection depends on how great of a relationship! Do we look in the mirror and see Beyonce? Or some sort of troll. Does the voice in our head sound like something out of a horror film? Or does it soothe us?
Like all relationships that matter, our relationship with our self requires work. It's not a fluke, don't leave it up to chance. It requires kindness, consistency and respect. It cannot be taken for granted, forgotten, ignored or disrespected or your connection with yourself will fade into non-existence. You can't bully yourself sometimes and think it's ok!
This isn't about self-absorption. It's the sobering recognition that the most important relationship you'll ever be in is with yourself. How you treat yourself is a direct reflection of how you allow yourself to be treated, how you treat others and also, the example you set for your children as to how they should treat themselves.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1) Do You Acknowledge That You Have a Relationship With Yourself?
Your ideal self and your real self, your head and your heart, the masks you wear and what lies beneath, yourself and your inner child - define it however you'd like. Recognize you do indeed have a relationship with yourself and you’re either building your connection or practicing varying degrees of abuse.
As with all relationships that you value and want to last, you’re naturally aware of the last time you spoke, the last time you got together for coffee and quality time, or even just the last time you sent them a thoughtful text.
Do the same thing with yourself. When was the last time you gave yourself a little mental pep-talk? Had chocolate cake, booked a massage or slept in late just because you wanted to? Start to treat yourself like someone you care about.
2) Do You Realize How Much Your Words Matter?
Our internal dialogue, a mystery to everyone but ourselves, is the most powerful dialogue we’ll ever engage in. This dialogue quite literally will determine the outcome of your life.
Keeping in mind the image that one part of you has a relationship with another part of you, start to see this other part of you as either your best friend or a young child, someone completely deserving of your unconditional love. What qualities make a good friend or a good parent? Compassion, encouragement, understanding and acceptance to name a few. It’s your job to treat yourself that way.
Too often our ideal self does all the talking (bullying) while that other part of us suffers, feeling squashed and small, invisible and ignored. Make a decision that you won't turn your back on yourself anymore and instead, hold your own hand in life.
3) Do You Spend Time Alone?
Unless you plan on avoiding yourself forever, becoming comfortable alone is essential.
As you get to know yourself, you'll discover the realest you - your uniqueness, your deepest desires and your rawest vulnerabilities. You'll learn to trust yourself and become more comfortable with your own voice. Confidence will increase, productivity will improve and creativity will be inspired.
Make regular dates with yourself - even if only once a month. A bath with your favourite music on, meditation, exercise (where you’re not thinking about all of your to-do lists), a hike in nature, writing, art etc. Let solitude be a source of replenishment.
4) Do You Take Care of Your Basic Needs?
Don't neglect yourself in favour of seemingly higher priority tasks.
Get enough sleep, eat well and be physically active. Say "no" when you need to. No different than you’d be with your children – you’d make sure they got what they needed. No different than the way you’d encourage your loved ones if you saw that they were exhausted and hungry. Do the same for yourself.
5) Do You Judge Yourself or Strive to Understand Yourself?”
Instead of judging yourself, attempt to understand yourself. Imagine that you are lending a compassionate ear to yourself just as you would to your best friend or spouse. The best relationships become that way through understanding.
When you’re irritated, overwhelmed, angry or hurt, don’t skip to making yourself right or wrong in how you're feeling; pause to consider why. Understanding yourself allows you to make a choice; you move towards proactivity instead reactivity.
This isn’t a way to let yourself off the hook. Understanding yourself isn't the same as making excuses for yourself. Justifying your behaviour or blaming others relieves you of any responsibility and therefore, powerless to change. You will forever remain a victim in your reactions. The honesty and short-lived discomfort that can sometimes come with being real are required for true understanding and the ensuing growth.
6) Do You Trust Yourself?
Trust is either the glue that holds relationships together or the knife that tears them apart. Trusting yourself comes from consistent actions and a consistent attempt to understand. We trust our friends and family that are there for us and try not to let us down.
How we relate to ourselves determines the ease with which we move through life; whether we glide, trusting ourselves and our decisions, or whether we trip over our overwhelm, constantly questioning ourselves and looking for a certainty that doesn’t exist.
Start being there for yourself. Be someone that you can count on. Honour your word to yourself. Stand up for yourself. Be loyal to yourself. Don’t give up on yourself. Believe in yourself.
Like all new relationships, a new relationship with yourself can feel awkward at first. Start small and stick with it. It’s a relationship that will bear more fruit or cause more harm than any other.