5 Practices for a Healthy Relationship with Yourself | The BridgeMaker

5 Practices for a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

By on Jan 07, 2014

relationship with yourself

The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself. – Steve Maraboli

Our relationship with ourselves influences every aspect of our lives—but it took me a long time to recognize this. Having spent years trying to fix things on the outside, trying harder at work, focusing on my relationships with other people, and living as busy and productive a life as possible, the penny finally dropped.

I knew I could grow more, do more, and be more, but something was missing.

Although I started pursuing personal development to make my external life better, I quickly learned that this wasn’t going to happen until I had nurtured another missing key ingredient: self-connection.

If we don’t have a good relationship with ourselves, then we’re unlikely to be happy, unlikely to achieve our deepest goals and desires, and unlikely to live to our full potential.

It takes time to develop any deep and intimate relationship, whether that’s with ourselves or others, and I’ve found the following five practices useful to kickstart this process.

1. Journaling

When we journal, we hold a conversation with ourselves—and what better way to get to know someone than through talking with them?

When it comes to journaling, the important thing to remember is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. If you’re starting out, simply grab a piece of paper or open up a blank screen and start writing down whatever you happen to be thinking about at that moment.

2. Tuning in

Our physical sensations are just as important as (and intrinsically linked to) our emotions. In fact, our emotions often show up as physical sensations, such as the tingling of butterflies in the stomach or the intense pain of a broken heart.

Disconnection from ourselves doesn’t just involve our feelings; it applies to our bodily experiences too. To cultivate a deeper physical connection with yourself, try setting several timers during the day. When they go off, check in with your body to see where you’re holding tension; over time, you’ll learn the language of your body and develop a deep understanding of it.

3. Breathing

Our breathing is unconscious and, while this has some major advantages (we don’t want it to stop!), it means that sometimes we lose track of how our breathing is affecting the way we feel.

When we pay attention to our breathing, we reconnect to our emotional and physical sensations. We also learn how one affects the other; when we are tense, our breath tends to be shallow and fast, which makes us more tense. When we learn how to notice this and slow our breath down, we can help ourselves feel more relaxed.

4. Self-compassion

Many people view compassion as a personality trait, but it’s also a skill we can practice. As Kristin Neff explains in her excellent book, Self-Compassion (Hodder, 2011), the more self-compassion we have, the more likely we are to try new things, to challenge ourselves, and to grow.

Self-compassion is really about extending the same kindness and care to ourselves that we extend to other people. Next time you find yourself feeling low, having a difficult day, or struggling with something, ask yourself: “What would I say to a good friend in this situation?” and offer yourself the same treatment.

5. Possibility sessions

As you deepen your relationship with yourself, make time to explore new possibilities that occur to you as a result. We often stop ourselves dreaming big by talking ourselves down as soon as an idea pops into our heads.

Set aside time to sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself: “If [insert obstacle here] wasn’t a problem, what would I be doing right now?”

The more you can practice dreaming without discounting, the closer to reality those dreams will become.

Hannah Braime is the founder of Becoming Who You Are, where you can find tools and resources that will calm your inner critic and nourish your inner cheerleader. She is a self-relationship coach and author of two books on journaling and self-care. Visit www.becomingwhoyouare.net to get the free ebook "The Five Most Common Blocks to Authentic Living… and How to Overcome Them."

  • Very well done, Hannah.

    I’ll add mine…I write my appreciations every night. As part of that I write things I like about myself…and things I like about at least five other people. It’s a great way to get out of your own ego and headspace. And…BONUS points for writing about someone I’m in conflict with, and can find the good qualities we all have. 🙂

  • Hannah, such a great post.

    This is something I just realized this past year and I forever changed because of it. I simply learned to be selfish, in a good way. All too often we are so focused on the external, we forget about taking care of ourselves; emotionally and spiritually. We may think we are, but we aren’t totally self-aware.

    I am such a firm believer in that you need to take care of yourself first before you can truly give yourself to others. When you truly commit to self-connection, you not only notice a change in yourself, but the relationships and experiences around you become deeper and more fulfilling. Journaling and reflecting have become daily habits for me and I feel it’s something our souls crave. To open up and just pour out our thoughts, emotions, ideas, etc. I feel so much lighter after each entry. Great post and congratulations on finding that thing.

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