026: Why we need to have a good relationship with ourselves
How having a good relationship with yourself can benefit all other relationships.
In all aspects of life, having a good relationship with ourselves is invaluable. But, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. The need to fit in is basic human instinct and going against the grain can prove challenging, even if we know it’s what we need to do to be happy.
We are the common denominator in all interactions with the people and things around us every day. That in itself gives us a huge amount of control over our lives and our wellbeing but it’s easy to forget that that control exists. Understanding ourselves, knowing why we are the way we are, is the first step to taking back control and creating a life you want to live and can be proud of.
Whilst relationships with others are vital for our wellbeing, it’s difficult for us to have meaningful and valuable relationships if we don’t truly understand ourselves and our needs first. The same philosophy goes for the relationships we have with the other elements of our lives; our homes, our work, technology, food and alcohol, to name a few. Our connections, even with inanimate objects, can have severe effects on our wellbeing. Whether it’s a poor relationship with food, an addiction to alcohol or an inability to switch off from work, we all need to understand where these problems stem from within ourselves so that we can understand how to resolve them.
Whilst we don’t think about our relationship with our work in the same way we do the relationship with our best friend, the two are more similar than we realise. The success of both types of relationship comes down to our ability to understand what we need from them. Because, whether it’s our work or our best friend, if we rely on others/things to bring us happiness and wellbeing, if we do yoga because someone else does or we start working longer hours because it’s what the boss does, we’re giving the control over our happiness to someone else, we’re surrendering to the fact that we don’t know who we truly are and so we’ll hope that someone else knows better.
One of the hardest things about connecting with yourself, one of the reasons we’re good at avoiding it, is the fact that we might not like what we find. We might find someone who doesn’t enjoy drinking, someone who can’t stand hanging out with work colleagues or someone who needs more time on their own than is generally accepted. The thing is, if we don’t listen to ourselves and figure out who we really are we’ll end up living a life made up of other people’s wants and needs, never feeling fulfilled because we don’t know what it is we’re trying to achieve and therefore what fulfilled looks like for us personally.
Why having a good relationship with yourself is a must.
The better we know ourselves, and where our strengths lie, the more confidence we can have in our own abilities to perform certain tasks and excel in certain situations. Recognising our strengths, in turn gives us a deeper understanding of our weaknesses and gives us the ability to find people to build relationships with whose strengths and weaknesses complement our own. Saying ‘I can’t’ is perfectly acceptable in situations where you know someone else does it much better and that your time is best spent elsewhere.
Developing trust in your own judgement and decision making gives you the ability to learn and progress. By putting faith in your decisions, even if they’re wrong, you’re allowing yourself to grow in a way that makes sense to you. It’s all very well learning from other people’s mistakes but, understanding your mistakes is far more important than just knowing of their existence.
“What you hear, you forget; what you see, you remember; what you do, you understand.” — T. Harv Eker
When we talk about having a good relationship with ourselves we generally hear a lot about self-care and how to keep ourselves well. There’s a lot of hot baths, yoga and scented candles. And whilst relaxation, meditation and generally taking care of yourself are extremely important there’s more to feeling well and deeply connected. One of the most important benefits to being engaged with our true self is the strength it gives us to help others. Once we understand our needs/desires we are in a better position to help others figure out theirs. We become more deeply connected to the fact that most of the time everyone is just doing their best, in whatever situation they’re in, and that they might be feeling just as lost as any one of us.
Understanding how we feel when in specific situations allows us to take a step back and gather our thoughts before we react. With this control, we are able to acknowledge our own feelings–know how we are likely to react in this type of situation and what the consequences might be–and deal with those feelings accordingly so as not to affect the situation in a way we had not intended or would later regret.
We all have our own unique needs, and one of the most important things that can come out of understanding yourself is understanding your needs. A colleague or friend who doesn’t understand why you need 8 hours of sleep a night doesn’t understand that your needs are different to theirs. Knowing that you need more sleep, in order to be your best self, means you can start to fit that into your daily routine, it means you know you’re doing what’s right for you and that you don’t have to feel bad for not being like someone else.
Having a strong relationship with yourself helps you to understand how you work. From the time of day that you’re most productive, to the things that distract you the most. This understanding gives you the opportunity to combat those distractions and work more effectively.
Knowing your abilities, both physically and mentally, allows you to challenge yourself that bit more and in the right way. A challenge doesn’t have to be set by someone else and doesn’t have to push you to your limits, but small challenges, things you want to overcome, are what enable growth.
Understanding yourself, the way you think and feel, enables you to appreciate the thoughts and feelings of others better. We will only ever really see eye to eye with ourselves because no one has ever had the same experiences we have. But, the more we are able to put ourselves into other people’s shoes the more we are able to understand their decisions and how our decisions affect them.
Having trust and confidence in ourselves means we know where we stand. We know what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, what we need, what we don’t need and how we can work on improving things in a way that works for us. We also know when we are able to help in a situation and when we can’t, which means we have the strength to say no when we need to and the confidence to say yes without feeling anxious about our ability to live up to our promise.
We grow up in a society that teaches us certain ideas and that gives us ideologies upon which we base our decision making. Whether we learn from our parents, siblings, teachers, grandparents, friends, books, television, social media we are a product of the facts/beliefs we are told by others. It’s common, unfortunately for us to be told things that prevent us from being who we truly are. Only by understanding who we really are can we undo the damage done and start to be true selves.
Understanding ourselves and who we really are isn’t about figuring out who made you the way you are and blaming them for it. The people who have made you who you are have been in the same situation. We are all responsible for taking action rather than placing blame.
We are responsible for taking the time to dig a little deeper, we are responsible for figuring out what it is we really want in life and then working out what in our lives is helping us to achieve that and what is holding us back.
If you’re looking to learn more about understanding yourself and whether the life you’re currently living is helping you get to where you want to be I highly recommend listening to this: https://drchatterjee.com/social-media-making-ill-cal-newport/ and other episodes of Dr Chatterjee’s Feel Better. Live More. podcast.
I would also be really keen to hear your thoughts on this topic and what you find hardest when it comes to building a good relationship with yourself, please let me know in the comments below.