Take a quick scroll through any digital publication of your choosing, and you’ll find articles upon articles filled with tips on how to improve your relationship with your friends, your family, and your significant other, but what about the relationship you have with yourself? While we spend a lot of time with ourselves, we often focus on that relationship the least, when it’s actually the most important one we should be working on.
But what does a good relationship with yourself even look like? Should I take myself out on dates and surprise myself with flowers? Honestly, maybe, and Cher Horowitz would be proud.
“A healthy self relationship is the ability to value yourself as a person, and embrace your strengths and weaknesses,” therapist Julie Hanks LCSW tells Psych Central. Meaning, you embrace yourself, flaws and all, knowing those flaws are what make you human. When you have a good relationship with yourself and make self-love a priority, you gain insight into your wants and needs, spend less time beating yourself up about things that hold little significance, and your self-esteem improves. With that internal soundtrack sung by the Spice Girls on repeat in your head, you stand a little taller, speak with more confidence, and you glow differently as you know you’ve got this.
Here, we outline four easy ways for you to improve the relationship you have with yourself.
Make Time for Your Happiness
Making time for your own happiness doesn’t always have to involve an extensive at-home spa night, featuring face mask after face mask. Sometimes, it can be as simple as sitting quietly in the morning for 10 minutes with your coffee, going for a walk, or blocking off time on your calendar (before your co-worker does) to take that online yoga class. Engaging in practices both big and small that make you happy and put your needs first are a great way to build a better relationship with yourself, and ground yourself in happy, positive energy — especially if you’re having an off-day. These are rituals you can very easily turn to when you’re in a low mood to lift your spirit, or when you’re having a great day, they can make everything else feel that much better. Try to incorporate different activities that make you happy and feed your spirit throughout your day.
And also, do that face mask. You deserve it.
Cancel the Negative Self-Talk
Friendly reminder, be kind to yourself! We get it — it’s far too easy to get into your own head, doubt your own accomplishments, and beat yourself up about certain things, but blaming yourself leads to less-effective change than if you spoke to yourself in a positive way. Try speaking to yourself in the way you speak to your best friend, and when you feel those negative emotions swirling around, refocus your energy and approach the issue from a place of love. This doesn’t mean blowing off your responsibilities (however tempting it may be), but working toward being kinder and more gentle with yourself. Soon enough, that voice in your head will sound less like the girl who made your life hell in high school (we didn’t forget, ASHLEY), and more like that friend you practically consider family. Take a moment to rewrite the script of those negative thoughts with love, and soon enough, thinking positively and appreciating yourself will become second nature.
Listen to the Signals Your Body Gives You
We’re about to tell you something you probably already knew, but is worth repeating: That gut feeling you get that tells you when a situation is good, bad, or even slightly off? She is correct, should be trusted, and should be listened to far more. Our bodies have this ability to pick up information from the outside world, and provide clues on how to interact with whatever it is triggering that feeling. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re too wrapped up in other things to listen to what our bodies are telling us. How many times have you been beyond tired, but you keep plugging away for the sake of being in the zone? Or when you have a pounding headache, but haven’t had any water all day? These are signals your body is sending your brain so you can act and keep everything running as it should, but just like that obnoxious notification to restart your computer so it can perform the necessary updates, we keep putting it off and hitting NOT NOW. Instead of delaying to give your body what it needs, try listening to those signals, then act accordingly.
Prioritize Your Inner World
You know how your cat (or dog, if you’re a dog person) always seems perfectly content in her own little world that is your apartment? To her, it doesn’t matter what is going on outside of your home, because within her world, she feels safe, happy, and content — aside from the occasions where she’s annoyed with your cuddles and gets bitey as hell. Prioritizing your inner world looks a lot like that. While you can’t control what’s going on outside, you can control things within your own little bubble to make you feel good. Simply asking yourself the questions, “What am I feeling today? What am I thinking? Why do I think or feel like this today?” is a good way to get in touch with your internal processes, and help determine a plan of action if you aren’t feeling your best on that given day. Allow yourself to become more aware of your feelings, and do what you can to make the world around you a more comfortable, safe space for yourself where you can block out any noise or negativity from the outside.
Building a better relationship with yourself doesn’t require giving your entire lifestyle an overhaul, nor does it have to be a long, arduous process. By incorporating small, regular acts of love, the relationship you have with yourself will improve little by little, and soon enough, you’ll see yourself as the strong, undefeated badass both your best friend and all five Spice Girls (Yes! Even Victoria!) have always known you could be.