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What’s the most important relationship in your life?
Most people would respond to this question by listing the people closest to them, typically a parent, children, or significant other.
However, what if I told you that all these relationships pale in comparison to your relationship with yourself?
Would you disagree?
Do you think it’s too strong a statement?
If you did, you wouldn’t be alone. Most of us have been socialized to be suspicious of any talk of self-care or self-love.
And when we do, we talk about it obliquely so as not to appear self-centered or narcissistic. Our most important relationship definitely isn’t with ourselves!
We have done ourselves a disservice as a society.
Think about it. Is it possible to fill a bucket with water from an empty well?
Somehow, we expect to give our best selves to others, even when we’re tired, unhappy, or angry.
We expect that, if we just focus on filling other people’s wells, they will fill ours in turn. But it just doesn’t work that way.
The hard truth is that each of us is responsible for filling our own wells. Only then can we be truly available to those we love most.
Is your well dry?
Have you fallen out of love with yourself?
Here’s how you can rejuvenate your most important relationship:
1. Say “I love myself”
In the midst of professional and personal despair, Kamal Ravikant decided to start saying to himself, “I love myself.”
He started saying it when he hated himself most.
He said it over and over again. In less than a month, he had turned his life around. He was feeling healthier, happier, and at peace.
Ravikant chronicled his journey in his book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
If you’re like me, you’ll likely recoil in resistance to this practice. It feels too direct. But if you push through the resistance, you’ll experience a breakthrough.
2. Say “no”
When you start loving yourself, you learn to say no to unreasonable expectations and demands made of you. It’s true that others may accuse you of being selfish, but this is not true.
Think of your ‘no’s’ as paving the way for more meaningful ‘yes’s’.
For instance, in the past you may have said yes to every request made at work in order to please the boss.
But now that you’re in touch with your own needs, you’ll eventually learn to say no to staying late at work so you could spend more time with your family.
3. Practice self-compassion and strengthen your most important relationship
Thanks to researchers such as Kristin Neff, the importance of self-compassion in overall health and well-being is now being recognized and acknowledged.
These include, greater emotional resilience and improved relationships with others.
Instead of beating yourself up when you make a mistake or fall short, speak to yourself as you would another person you cared about.
For instance, if someone needed encouragement, you probably wouldn’t say to them, “You’re so stupid, why can’t you get it together?”
But you think nothing of speaking that way to yourself.
Try instead, “I know you’re doing the best you can. Hang in there.”
Or you can go back to step 1 and repeat the self-love mantra.
Love the most important person in your life
Contrary to your fears, loving yourself will not make you selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, or mean.
Instead, you’ll be less angry and resentful toward yourself and others.
You’ll feel greater love, peace and compassion.
You’ll have a full well from which you can lovingly tend to the needs of others without sacrificing your own.
Stop denying your love to the most important person in your life. Because you deserve your own love just as much as anyone else.