You're worth the effort.
The fastest way to improve and strengthen your relationship with others is by looking at the relationship you have with yourself.
Relationships are like gardens — they require time, attention and nourishment. Your relationship with yourself is the soil for all the other relationships in your life, including those with your partner, children, friends and colleagues. But, if your soil quality is compromised, expect more weeds.
Here are 5 ways to enrich your soil and love yourself:
What thoughts do you hold? Would you allow another person to talk to you (or your children) the way you talk to yourself? Speak to yourself the way you would speak to a friend. Know your strengths and accept your flaws.
2. Reflect on yourself, don't criticize.
Many of us are conditioned to be self-critical — almost like we want to think the negative thoughts before someone else has a chance to point out our flaws. But there is a BIG difference between self-criticism and self-reflection, and you should know the difference.
Self-reflection is taking the time to see the situation from many angles: Could I have done better? Where did I go off track? Maybe it wasn’t all me. What will I do differently next time?
Self-reflection is about insight and learning. Self-criticism is about shame and judgment.
3. Start a mediation practice.
This is an exceptional tool for turning the volume up on how you’re really doing. Many people think meditation is about clearing your mind from all thoughts, but that's not really the point.
Meditation is actually a way to increase positive thoughts and direct the body to a calmer state. It does take practice (usually 6-8 weeks until you begin to experience benefits). I recommend a program called Calm to help you get started.
Several studies link meditation to improved immune functioning, including reduction in symptoms of fibromyalgia and even psoriasis.
4. Make time for things that make you happy.
What fills you up and brings you joy? Make a list and put them on the calendar. Don’t use the excuse of "I don’t have time." Make the time. Make the time because it matters. Make the time because you deserve to feel joyful and because you will have more to give every single person who counts on you.
5. Stop acting like a robot.
Somehow we’ve gotten to this place in time where we value people who can give (and give and give) and never need anything in return. If you're someone who pressures yourself to "do it all", it's time to cut yourself some slack and have some confidence.
When someone offers to help, it's OK to accept. When someone asks how you’re doing, it’s OK to say, "I’ve been better." You have needs and your needs matter. When you allow space for this you are far more likely to have happier, healthier relationships.
Be patient. It’s about practice not perfection. It might feel strange at first or even selfish. When you nurture the relationship you have with yourself, the benefits seep into all areas of your life. The seeds are only as healthy as the soil.