How is your relationship with self?1, April, 2012, by Seema Bhatnagar
Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world. ~Miguel de Cervantes
How do you treat yourself when you make mistakes? Do you feel overly criticized when somebody ask you to improve upon something? Do you often compare yourself with others for each and every small thing and curse yourself on not finding yourself better?
The most important part of our personality is how we view our own Self, how much value we attach to our view points and how deep is this relationship. Many people find it uncomfortable to accept themselves with their flaws and constantly look for approvals and acceptance from others. This reflects that such people do not have a healthy relationship with their self and have a strong urge for external approvals.
We all have certain ideal images of self which we hold in our mind and silently embrace them and try our best to comply with them. It is not wrong to have an image to get inspired but when there is a huge gap between that image and reality then it becomes a problem.
The image that we hold about self is very much influenced by our childhood experiences and environment. Our media constantly feeds our mind about the ideal images for almost everything, like an ideal wife, husband, friend, family, career or job etc. With constant exposure to newspaper, internet, TV channels, magazines we develop an ideal images and subconsciously we compare our every action with that image.
If the gap between that adopted image and in current reality (of what you are) is not too wide then it would feel comfortable but if the gap is too wide, then you would find it as a constant struggle with self to attain that image and it will constantly make you feel highly anxious and stressed.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ~ Aristotle
Your relationship with yourself is about knowing your strengths, weaknesses and flaws and to live with them comfortably. We can be comfortable only when we accept ourselves completely and have learned to face the criticism and ridicule from others about our flaws.
The inner voice which constantly comments on every action actually influences a lot by making either positive or negative comment. Observe yourself what you say when somebody points out your flaws. Your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth are strongly influenced by what you say to yourself on regular basis.If you call yourself as "ugly", "fat" and "dumb", even if you are not actually, sooner or later you will start feeling so.
The new relationships which you build in life will be impacted by the relationship you have with yourself.If you constantly think negative about yourself you will not be able to enjoy a positive company and will face difficulty in understanding others.If you are a parent, your relationship with self will impact your relationship with your kids as well.
My personal experience
When I was in my teens I had a complex about my short height. As per Indian standards, I am short and stand 4 ft 10 inches. During teens, when emotions are very fragile and personality is under development, one feels good on receiving compliments, acceptance and approvals from others. I used to feel bad if somebody commented that my height is short and it will be difficult to get a handsome match for marriage. Though marriage was not my concern but I always felt,what is my mistake in that and why people are commenting on me and deep down it affected me. This complex overpowered me so much that on many instances,internally I felt, "oh the other person (does not matter man or woman), will not like me because I am short and I should not meet him/her, I started avoiding people. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I developed an image that I must be this much tall and should look beautiful if I want to be accepted by others. But, with time, I understood that personal skills and confidence matters much more than physical qualities. In fact, after attaining my adult age, I never felt any complex, availed best possible opportunities in career and job, enjoyed healthy friendships with lot of people belonging to different cultures of the world and travelled many countries. I developed an understanding that if somebody likes me or be with me because of my physical features, that person cannot be my friend or cannot be related to me because I am much more than my height, face and skin colour.
It is not that I have become perfect and have no flaws, I do have many but I am absolutely comfortable in accepting those and work on them not with an objective to get myself accepted by others but to bring more personal growth.
How to build a strong relationship with self?
- Do not try to be perfect
- Avoid negative people
- Work on your strengths
- Accept yourself
- Think positive
- Develop your core values
- Address your insecurities
- Meet yourself everyday
- Maintain personal log
- Switch off the media
Do not try to be perfect in everything in the first attempt; rather think of bringing constant improvement in your pursuits. If you feel somebody is perfect and you must be like him/her then remember nobody is perfect on this earth, everybody is learning from mistake and moreover perfection is not an end point; it is a persistent effort to bring positive improvement in personal pursuits. There is no standard definition of perfection; it is more about having a personal perspective of looking at things. Anything which might be perfect for you might not be perfect for others and vice versa.
Your subconscious mind does not have its logic and it simply works on the inputs it receives, if you live in an environment which constantly feeds you with negative comments and criticism, you would start believing in those statements and will create a negative image of yourself. As a result you will not have a confidence in yourself and will feel shy of meeting or interacting with people, as I mentioned under "My personal experience" section above. As a first step, avoid meeting such people, if possible, quit your relationships altogether. In case, there is no option of quitting, address each and every negative comment. For example, if somebody comments you as "you are a lazy person", before you accept this, apply your own logic and thoughts if the other person is right or wrong.In case, you do not find any basis of such comment, ask him/her, why s/he is making such comments baselessly.
Identify your strengths as a first step towards having a strong relationship with yourself.If you know your strengths and feel confident about them, then no matter what others say, you will pose more confidence in yourself. In the toughest of situations, it is your confidence in your strengths which matters most.
Life is a continuous learning and each and every experience in life teaches us some lesson about self. Sometime our weak moments tells us, how emotional we are, how sensitive we are and how loving we are about others and self. You might have certain emotional weaknesses and physical flaws, accept yourself as a whole without feeling uncomfortable. There are certain features which we are born with which cannot be corrected in some situations, especially the physical ones, so learn to accept yourself with your strengths and flaws. If you believe in God or any higher power than accept your flaws as discretion of that power. Does not matter how many flaws you have, you deserve love and respect and it is your responsibility to love yourself unconditionally.
Your positive thinking is your strength in difficult situations. If you constantly think negative about events and people, you cannot develop trust with yourself. For example, if you feel, since last time you flunked your exams, so this time also you would, will raise your anxiety and you will not be able to study with peace of mind. Rather than believing in this fantasy, address your negative thought and replace it with a positive thought by saying, "if I am working hard, why would I flunk. This time I have a better plan and strategy in place so I would pass with flying colours". Similarly, in many situations, question your negativity and replace it with a positive thought.
Having core values means, you have certain beliefs which you strongly believe in. Does not matter how others view you, you know from inside that you have certain values which you strongly believe in. What others says, will become immaterial to you as you know each and every action of yours is driven by your core values which sometimes others might not understand.
Being a human being we have certain insecurities which haunts us almost every day. Our insecurities about job, relationships and money are some of the commonly known ones. Address your insecurities because these would make you feel weak from inside and would prevent you from having a positive relationship with self.
"Take the time to come home to yourself every day." ~ Robin Casarjean
Make it a routine to spend some time with yourself every day; even 15 minutes would be sufficient. During this time just talk about yourself, your good qualities, positivities you experienced throughout the day and what are those possible growth areas or goals where you want to focus on. With time you would experience that you know yourself better and have mindful reactions towards people and events.
If your schedule is too busy to spare even 15 mins then try to use your commuting time. If you are driving, switch off the music and other distractions for some time and pay attention to your thoughts, if you are riding or using public transport, use that time to be with yourself.
Personally, I use my commuting time to think about what new things I can do in life, how I can bring more positivity and growth to myself.
Make it a habit to write your daily thoughts and maintain a log of it. This log is about daily emotions which you feel. Feel free to write anything and in any way without caring for grammar or any spelling mistakes. If your cell phone is your first love than utilize it by either recording your voice or typing a document which you can later on transfer to your PC for future reference or to edit it on your PC. Take the advantage of technology.
Personally, I update my personal log on my laptop and write at least 3-4 times a week or record my voice when in not in a mood to type in.
We use sunscreen to avoid exposure to sun rays which we feel are hazardous to our skin, but it is utterly amazing that we do not apply any protection when watching TV, reading newspaper, hearing radio or any other media when they have a more potential of causing harm to our psyche. Media constantly feeds you with ideas about having an ideal image and this impact is so strong that you forget your own realty.
Control and minimize your exposure to media and choose the stuff which brings more positivity and growth to your life and be mindful while making choices about hearing, watching and reading. Choose to read good inspiring books which can really influence your thinking.
Personally, I read newspaper only on Sundays, if feel like, read headlines on internet on weekdays, and I watch TV not more than an hour per day that too the programs which are really interesting and have some good message.
Be your own power
"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." ~ Lao-Tzu
Understanding self is a long and gradual journey but remember every journey starts with a first step. Knowing yourself and having a positive relationship is a power in itself and this power is a key to your abundant happiness. Love yourself unconditionally and do not try to be somebody else.cheers
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