We all love a good love story. It’s endearing when you see people discover their path to love and happiness. It gives us faith that somehow someway our lives will turn out the way that we envisioned. It’s why I camp out on my couch and binge-watch the Hallmark Channel during the holidays. I just love watching the characters going about their struggles in life only to discover that happiness was right in front of them the entire time. My favorite parts are those defining moments when they realize the key to unlocking their happiness is to embrace the very person they have been taking for granted the entire time.
We live vicariously through these charming love stories, completely unaware that we are in the midst of the greatest love story of our lives… wait what? Yes, I said it, at this very moment you are the main character in a love story that is greater than any Nicholas Sparks book or Hallmark Channel Movie. In addition to that, you are only 5 steps away from the best relationship of your life.
All you have to do is look in the mirror. The reflection of the person staring back at you is the person who holds the key to your happiness. You know, the one you have been taking for granted your entire life.
The truth is the relationship you have with yourself is greater than any other relationship you will ever have.
Much like the characters in those Hallmark movies, you can’t see the beauty in the person in front of you because you have not given them a chance. And until you give yourself chance, you won’t be able to let yourself be loved by others. I know it seems overwhelming to think you can achieve a level of self-love that contributes to your happiness, but it can be done in only 5 steps.
Here are 5 things you can do to make your relationship with yourself the best relationship you will ever have.
1. Get to know yourself
The foundation of any healthy relationship is based on knowing that person. So, get to know yourself, like really know yourself. Understand what gives you enjoyment, what makes you feel happy, and what makes you feel sad. Ask yourself questions and really listen to your responses. Some people spend time each day answering those questions in a journal. I’ve even had some people record themselves answering questions like they were being interviewed. Other people meditate or do video recordings. Whatever method you select make sure you do it daily for a couple of weeks and remember to answer from the heart, not from the head.
The heart tells our stories as they are, and our head modifies those stories into the things we want to hear.
2. Live with Intention
Living with intention is living with purpose. When we know who we are and what we need to be happy, we can live an intentional and purpose-driven life that is based on what we need versus what we want. When we focus on what we need, we most often end up getting what we want as well. For example, when I went through this journey, I discovered I am a physically oriented person. For me to show up as my best self, I need to have a physical outlet every day. It keeps me centered, keeps my energy up, and I feel I perform better as a mom, friend, coach, etc. Living with intention and purpose means I committed to doing some form of physical activity daily. While I did this based on what I needed, I found after several weeks my body started changing, I was in better shape, and I lost 25 pounds. Now, I have set out to lose weight before, but my intention was always based on what I wanted to look like versus. Exercise became a chore and my motivation waned and ultimately, I was not successful. When I changed my intention to focus on what I needed, I was more deliberate, consistent, and ultimately ended up where I wanted.
3. “Learn to say No”
Boundaries are essential to any relationship. Having a mutual understanding of what is acceptable and unacceptable is a crucial component of any relationship. Time and time again I see people who are exhausted, depleted, and run themselves ragged because they have been unable to set boundaries for themselves. They push aside their own needs to take care of others so often that they become overscheduled, underappreciated, and overextended. The reason so many people struggle with saying no to the things that will deplete their physical, emotional, or spiritual energy is that they never took the time to really know themselves and what makes them fulfilled. People often mistakenly think they can be fulfilled by helping others not realizing it is at the expense of their happiness. Other times, people let their negative self-talk convince them into feeling guilty if they don’t do all these things. Whatever the reason, when you deplete yourself, you simply don’t have anything left to offer to others. It’s why the flight attendants instruct you to secure your oxygen mask before you help others put theirs on. If you can’t breathe, you simply cannot help others to breathe. So, learn to say no.
4. Nourish yourself by practicing self-care
Every healthy relationship consists of a collection of experiences, rituals, or events. Your relationship with yourself should be no different. Because you performed steps 1 and 2 you know what you need and what makes you happy. Now you can begin to incorporate experiences, rituals, or events into your life that enable you to be refreshed, energized, and stimulated. There are endless possibilities. Treating yourself to rest, relaxation, pursuing hobbies you enjoy, learning new things, trying new foods, meditation, exercise, cooking, reading, biking, etc. Some people take themselves on a date and do something they enjoy, some people take solo trips to connect with themselves, and some give themselves 30 mins a day to do whatever they feel like doing. There is no one way or right way to practice self-care and everyone’s routines are unique to them. The important thing is to make sure you do it often enough.
5. Forgive yourself
Relationships are hard. The relationship with yourself is no different. There will be days when things don’t go the way you hoped. There will be days when you give in to your wants. You will make mistakes and there will be times when your negative stories will speak to you louder than the positive ones. You are human. The important thing is you need to forgive yourself when those things happen. This may be difficult because you may feel you are often our own worst critic, but you also possess the power to change that. When you commit to learning from your mistakes and forgiving yourself, you build resilience. When you are resilient, you are no longer held captive by your fears. This is when your confidence soars, your beliefs in your abilities increase, and you are more likely to try new things. For this to happen you must permit yourself to make mistakes and to forgive.
Great relationships don’t just happen, they take time, patience, and a willingness to invest. These 5 steps will help you establish a healthy and happy relationship with yourself that can serve as the model for all of the other relationships in your life.