Steve Maraboli, a behavioural science academic, author and speaker says, “The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” Think about the things you say to yourself, how you judge yourself and what you expect of yourself. Are you a good, kind person to yourself? Are you your own best friend or are you too hard on yourself? Do you make time for yourself each day or are you always putting other people first because you think their needs are more important? Do you think your opinions are valid and worth expressing?
Perhaps you make a mistake. Do you acknowledge the mistake, think of ways it could be avoided in the future and move forward? Are you able to see the funny side to the situation? Instead you may blame yourself, tell yourself you are stupid or clumsy and let the mistake ruin your day. Perhaps you worry you will make the same mistake in the future.
Your inner critic may be chattering away, dragging you down. I came across this quote by author Kim McMillen, ‘When I loved myself enough I stopped trying to banish the critical voices from my head. Now I say, “Thank you for your views,” and they feel heard. End of discussion.’ This made me think of a different way of handling my inner critic. Instead of having a back and forth argument I could simply acknowledge the thought and then move on to a more positive way of thinking about the situation.
Deborah Day, mental health clinician and author advises, “Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.” I like the way she says, ‘Gently accept your humanness.’ I ‘recognise I have high expectations of myself. When someone else makes a mistake or doesn’t do a task particularly well I can find a reason for it. Perhaps they are tired, unwell, have worries or just ‘having an off day.’ Maybe they need training or to have the task explained to them more clearly. I am not as understanding of my own shortcomings. I tend to feel I should be able to do better and I am unlikely to cut myself some slack. However, I am working on this. I have noted that many claim if you set yourself a high standard you will expect just as high a standard from other people. I don’t think this is always the case.
Do you always take care of the needs of others before your own? When you have young children who are dependent on you it may actually be necessary to take care of their needs first. Some women don’t have a support network to help out. In this situation it may take some creative thinking to arrange for the necessary support so you can get some time to yourself. It is not selfish to use child care or occasional care services to allow you to get exercise, take part in a social activity or simply relax. Your young child will benefit from contact with other youngsters and adults, different activities and a new environment.
Women who are in a caring role are prone to putting their own needs last. They may have been in this role for many years. These days there are support groups and some are able to help organise respite for the care recipient. This makes it possible for the carer to attend meetings, outings and even retreats. Carers need to have a good relationship with themselves and take care of their own needs. Then they can continue to care for others.
To have a good relationship with yourself
• Take care of your physical needs. Ensure you get enough sleep, adequate nutrition and some enjoyable exercise.
• Acknowledge your own thoughts and feelings as valid. Don’t worry about what you think you should be thinking or feeling. Have confidence in your own opinions.
• Accept your weaknesses and strengths as part of who you are.
• Allow yourself time to do things you enjoy each day.
• Spend some time praying, meditating, daydreaming or doing whatever helps you unwind and cope with the challenges life hands you.
When you have a good relationship with yourself it is easier to have good relationships with others.