How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Yourself
When you think about healthy relationships, you might think about romantic relationships. Or workplace relationships. Or friendships.
But what about your relationship with yourself?
It's the longest-lasting relationship you'll ever have. After all, you're always with yourself. You can't escape it. You might as well have a good relationship with yourself.
But what does that really entail?
Loving yourself is vital to how you present yourself to the world and to how others will treat you.
People will treat you like you're worth what you think you are, for better or worse.
If you love yourself, you'll come off as more confident, showing up boldly as yourself. And others will see you as more sure of yourself and comfortable in your own skin.
If you don't love yourself, second guess yourself, and belittle yourself, others will take notice. They might not pay as much attention to you, take advantage of you (or at least take the opportunity to be in charge if you're staying quiet and small), and ignore your needs that you're too shy or uncomfortable expressing.
Self-criticism spills over into judging others, too. If you're critical of your own mistakes or perceived flaws, you're more likely to see them in others because you're effectively training your eyes to see the negative things. On the flip side, if you work to highlight the positive things about yourself, you will also be more likely to see the good things in others.
Your mindset also affects how you treat others because it affects your mood. If you've had a rough day of beating yourself up for a mistake you made, you're probably not in a good position to be encouraging others or engaging in a lighthearted conversation with a new friend. However, if you learn to give yourself grace for your mistakes and learn from them, you're better able to bounce back and see the silver lining, keeping yourself in a more positive mood and being more pleasant to be around.
Your identity is unchangeable.
You are a masterpiece, God's workmanship. He worked hard to make you who you uniquely are, and He doesn't make mistakes.
When you remember your identity as a beloved daughter of God, you're better able to love yourself right where you're at because you know that nothing you do or don't do can change who you fundamentally are.
You are secure in your identity because it's not based on what you do or what your title is or how much money you have. It's based on what God says about you, and that doesn't change.
What the Bible says about who we are:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.
-Song of Songs 4:7
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
When we embrace our God-given identity as beloved daughters of the King, we're free to be ourselves, free to pursue the unique passions and purposes He's given us, and free to walk with our heads held high because we know our worth.
(For more on your identity and how it can help you determine your gifts and your purpose, check out my book-- Ready, Set...Now What? Discovering Your Identity, Gifts, and Purpose in the Real World.)
Our self-talk is so powerful! It sets our mood, it shapes our view of ourselves, and it contributes to what we can accomplish through self-fulfilling prophecies.
When you continually tell yourself you'll never be able to learn that new skill or reach that new milestone, it's like you're shooting yourself in the foot. By speaking those words over yourself, you're giving yourself permission to not try because you don't think you can succeed.
When you say something is too hard or too big or too scary, you're holding yourself back and keeping yourself small. You're letting fear win.
If you want to break free from the fear, all it takes is a flip of the switch on the negative script that's been running through your head.
This simple exercise can help: say out loud the words that are running through your head. The fear wins when you stay quiet. When you name your fears and struggles, you take away their power.
Once you've begun to say out loud the negative things you're thinking about yourself, begin to rewrite your story.
When you think or say something negative and untrue, correct it with Scripture and affirmations. Memorize verses about who you are in Christ and remind yourself that nothing can change that. If necessary, get others involved. We all need some help from time to time, and there's no shame in that!
To help flip the switch on your negative self-talk, consider some of these swaps:
I can't do it --> I'm trying my best/I can't do it YET, but I'm getting better
It's too hard --> I'm making progress/I'm going to try my best
I'm a failure --> I made a mistake, but I am not a failure
I wish/I want... --> I'm so grateful for everything I have already
Why can't I be like her? --> My story is my own and I don't have to compete
HONOR WHAT YOU NEED
Life happens in seasons, and each one has its own pros and cons, its own blessings and needs.
When you know your worth and have a healthy mindset about who you are, you're better able to take care of yourself. You understand that you might have certain limits, even if you'd like to move beyond them.
As your relationship with yourself grows and develops, you're better able to listen to your body, honoring what you need.
Instead of feeling the need to compete with others or do all the things, you can recognize what you, as a unique individual, need in that moment and that season.
This can be apparent in different ways:
- rest vs. activity
- social engagements vs. "me time"
- going to bed early, sleeping in
- nourishing body and soul with food
Paying attention to what you need and choosing to honor it takes practice and intention. If you don't have those things, you'll probably follow along with the crowd because it's simply easier. But living on autopilot isn't sustainable. If you don't recognize your needs, they'll go unmet until you burn out.
By working on your relationship with yourself and truly taking care of yourself (by honoring your needs), you'll set yourself up for healthy relationships with others, too!
P.S. In case you skimmed or skipped straight to the end, having a healthy relationship is all about having the right mindset-- remembering your identity as a beloved daughter of Christ, rewriting your self-talk, and honoring what you need. For more encouragement to live joyfully and with intention in your relationships, life, and work, check out The Joy + Full Living Community!