When we talk about relationship, the first thing that comes to our mind is romantic relationships. However, we have three kind of relationships: intrapersonal (from us to ourselves), interpersonal (from us to others: friends, family, work etc.) and, of course, romantic love, between two parts (or more). In this article, I want to discuss interpersonal relationships, which is in my point of view the most important One.
Intrapersonal relationship is the foundation of every kind of relationships we have with one another. On a priority basis, the way we treat ourselves is the way we allow others to treat us. Although this has become an unconscious reflex, as we do not think about it in our day by day, it influences enormously the way we relate with others.
When self-esteem comes in?
We are used to the word self-esteem, but do we really know its meaning? For many people, it is about self-love. And It is indeed. Moreover, love yourself also involves respect, self-believe, caring, and valuing oneself. When we love someone, we want to make this person happy, we offer support, and we do everything in our reach to help them. Likewise, that is what we need to do for us.
We all want to be loved, we are raised being taught to love and expect love from others: family, friends, and partners. No one teaches us that love comes from the inside-out, in other words, that WE NEED TO LOVE OURSELVES, so we share this love with others around us. In a nutshell, we are the ones responsible for loving and taking care of us, no one else.
Having said that, I would like you to answer some questions:
- How have you been treating yourself?
- How have you been dealing with your expectations?
- What advice have you been given to yourself about your desires, fears, and goals?
- When you are alone, what have you been thinking about yourself?
- What have you been telling you?
I am asking you to answer these questions because I want you to think if you are comfortable in your own presence, or if you think that you need somebody else to be happier. In case you are not happy with yourself, that is what you need to work on before you think about other relationships. Having finished this first task, I invite you to think about what kind of treatment you expect from others:
Do you want to be respected, loved, listened, supported, and cared, is it right?
Or, for some reason, you think you do not deserve it?
Sometimes, we make mistakes and we punish ourselves in many ways. We wrongly come to believe that we do not deserve being loved or achieve great things. If it is your case, just think about someone you deeply love (your mum, dad, son, friend, partner…). In case they make a mistake with you, would you treat them badly or would you give them a second (third or more) chances? Is not true that you do not stop loving someone when they failed with you? On the contrary, most of the time you carry on supporting them. You should, therefore, apply the same compassion to yourself.
Inner criticism Vs Self-compassion
We all have an inner criticism, which is that inner voice that expresses judgement, criticism or frustration about us or our actions. It might sound like “you should have done this” “why did you do that?” “what is the matter with you?” or “why are you so stupid?”…
This self-conversation differs from one to another and it varies on its intensity and frequency. I do not think you would ever talk to someone you love in this way. All these criticisms will not reduce your pain, they will reinforce your anxiety and make you feel even worse. The golden rule for self-compassion is: if you would not say something bad to your best friend, do not say it to yourself!
You need to have self-compassion. It does not mean that you can feel pity for yourself or believe that you are a victim and feel sorry for you all the time. What I am saying is that you must take responsibility for your happiness. You need to provide yourself with love, respect, and recognition. Once you can give what you deserve, you will easily recognize when someone is offering you less.
Acknowledging abusive relationships
When we genuinely love ourselves and we know our value, it is easier to recognize when someone is treating us badly, even if in a very subtle way. We just do not accept lack of respect and we do not let anyone to decrease our self-confidence. Why is it easier? Just because it is not the way we are used to treating ourselves. So, we know that something is wrong, and we cut it out as soon as possible. There is a famous saying that says: “Better to be alone than in a bad company”. That is what is all about!
Afterwards, we are always in our own company. As we cannot run away from ourselves, we are the most important relationship to care about. It might sound repetitive, but it is true: you are the most important person in your life! Having this awareness is vital for a happy life.
Take 10 actions to increase your selflove:
- Check if your physical health is ok. Your life is precious!
- Pay attention on your diet and food habits. What have you been eating? Healthy or junk food?
- Identify aspects in your life that could be improved (get a better job, a promotion, a trip, lose weight…) and start doing something to achieve it.
- Mind your feelings. Are you feeling anxious, sad, or depressed? Do something about it, get some help (meditation and good books sometimes can help as well).
- Manage your time. Remember: time flies! Do you use it with wisdom, with something that makes you feel good or just let it pass?
- Save your energy for what matters. Are you spending your energy with you or with others (are you caring about other people’s lives on Instagram, being jealous or too concerned about superficialities?).
- Keep learning. This is one of the most valuable tips I could give to you: keep studying and learning something about your interests. It does not matter what is, just learn it!
- Try something different, face your fears. It will help you to be more confident.
- Carefully manage your money. Keep in mind that money enables you to be free and make your own choices. Make your money work for you.
- The last, but not least: care for your relationships! Make sure you are surrounded by people who love and care about you. It is not quantity, but it is quality what matters. Have friends that encourage and inspire you, not the ones that put you down. Remember: we are an average from the five people we relate with most of the time. By whom have you been influenced?