When it comes to relationships, we focus on our relationship with others – with our family, friends and colleagues. How often do we think about our relationship with ourselves?

I guess the answer for most of us is – not that much!

Most people don’t like sitting with their thoughts. In moments of solitude, we tend to fill it with something. We reach for our smartphones and either mindlessly browse through the multiple social media channels or call someone to have a chat.

Let me ask you this question. If you want to deepen your bond with your friend or your partner, how frequently would you spend time with them? Would you schedule it in your calendar and be excited about that catch-up with your girlfriends? Of course Obu, isn’t that normal?

Yes and yes.

Here’s another question for you. If I asked you to schedule time with yourself, regularly, to build a better relationship with yourself, what is the first thought that comes to you?

‘Obu, you must be kidding. Who does that sort of a thing?’, I hear you ask.

Think about it for a minute. Just like you need to spend time with another person to get to know them better, don’t you think it is important to know yourself too? With others, it is literally about knowing their likes and dislikes, attitude and values but the relationship with yourself needs to be deeper.

It is all about knowing your triggers and why certain people, places or events trigger negative emotions in your body. This is the beginning of building a better relationship with yourself.

What are the benefits of this practice?

When you do this habitually, you will have more compassion for yourself. You know that voice that criticises you whenever you don’t get something right? That voice will be replaced by a kinder one which will treat you like your best friend would.

Once you learn and practise self-compassion, you then learn to forgive yourself and others. You will be able to better understand others by putting yourself in their shoes. A lot of conflicts (both inner and outer) can be solved in a conscious, purposeful way rather than be brushed under the carpet.

Emotions and feelings are the gateway to understanding what is happening in your body. We usually acknowledge the good emotions. Whenever you decide not to handle emotions, ones like anger, shame, fear, embarrassment, judgement, lack of self-worth and a range of other lower energy emotions, they can build up in your body. Have you ever had a sudden burst of emotion over something trivial someone said and you didn’t know why? That is pent up emotions and trauma that has not been dealt with when it happened.

Next time when something upsets you, instead of shutting down, remove yourself from that place, if possible and find a quiet spot (it could even be the bathroom). Ask yourself why you got upset. Initially, your inner voice will respond with ‘So and so said this, that’s why’ or ‘you should have got that promotion, not Ms. X’ or ‘my children never listen to me’. After the initial minute, probe deeper.

If you have built a deeper connection with yourself, you will be able to identify the underlying trauma or shame or guilt associated with another event that happened a long time ago (in your childhood). With practice, you will learn how not to be sucked into the loop of negative talk or being upset because you will realise you cannot control what other people say or do, and what you can control is your response-ability (i.e. your ability to respond to a situation).

How do I build a better relationship with myself?

I’m glad you asked.

Schedule at least half-hour a week to connect with your inner self. If you are new to this practice, you might feel uncomfortable and will want to reach for your mobile within the first few minutes. Just be conscious and know that this is normal. Just like any other activity, you will get better at it over time.

Sit in a comfortable spot and you can even light candles (just like a date with your partner). Start with purposeful breathing where you inhale for four counts, hold your breath for 4 counts and exhale for eight counts. Do this a few times and you will find yourself relaxing.

Once relaxed, observe your thoughts – there will be a flurry of them. If there is one particular thought that is bothering you, maybe this is the time to address it. You can have a journal next to you to jot down your thoughts. Once done, you can finish by putting your hand on your heart or whichever part of your body needs attention and breathe light into that part.

This is not the only way to connect with yourself, but one that is very important to connect deeper with yourself, soul search and find answers.

If this resonates with you and would like some help, get in touch with me for one-on-one coaching.

(Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash)