Here’s how you can create a healthy relationship with yourself

If you want to lead a happy life, you must build a healthy relationship with yourself first.
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Your happiness in life is a reflection of your relationship with yourself. Everything valuable to you—your goals, aspirations, people—starts from you. If you treat yourself with love and respect, you will attract positivity and happiness in life. It’s like what Robert Holden, author of the book Loveability: Knowing How to Love and Be Loved once said, “The relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”

So, how exactly can you build a healthy relationship with yourself? Start by accepting yourself for who you are, which means making peace with both your strengths and flaws. Know what you are good at, and where you need to practice more.

But as strange as it may sound, building a healthy relationship with yourself is not easy. It requires work, dedication, and consistent efforts. You need to overcome your fears and mental blocks to truly embrace who you are. Meanwhile, if you listen to your inner critic and engage in negative self-talk, it can lower your confidence, and in extreme cases, cause depression too, according to research, Psychological Processes Mediate the Impact of Familial Risk, Social Circumstances and Life Events on Mental Health. So, if you want to lead a happy life, you must start building a healthy relationship with yourself. Here are a few tips that can help you start on this journey.

Communicate with yourself

An important part of loving yourself is paying attention to your thoughts and listening to what they are saying. Write them down in a journal. According to a study titled Emotional expression and psychological symptoms: A comparison of writing and drawing published in the journal, The Arts in Psychotherapy, journaling can help ease your stress. If you notice that you are getting bogged down by negative thoughts, change the way you talk to yourself. Make a conscious effort to change the words into something positive, such as “I believe in my abilities, I can do better or I have the power to change my mind.” How you communicate with yourself shapes your worldview, attitude, and behaviour. If you struggle with stress, depression and anxiety, it can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.

Don’t live to please others

You need to know that you don’t live your life to meet the expectations of others. When you try to fulfil those, you end up snubbing your dreams. Have faith in yourself and break away from this behaviour. When you start meeting your expectations, and not someone else’s, you take a big step towards building a healthy relationship with yourself. Remember, you have the potential to achieve your dreams irrespective of what others think about you.

Compete with yourself

Comparing yourself with others is an exercise in futility. When you compare your flaws to someone else’s success, it will only make you feel worse about yourself. A study titled Social comparison and negative self-evaluations: An application to depression has shown that comparison breeds feelings of envy, low self-esteem, and even depression. If you want to avoid getting into such negative situations, stop competing with others. Instead, compete with yourself, create your rules and set targets for yourself. When you do that, you dismiss other people’s ideas of success and move closer towards harnessing your untapped potential.

Be kind to yourself

It sounds simple, but being kind to yourself is one of the hardest things to do. When you are used to someone telling you how to dress, how to live, and even how to behave, walking on a different path can feel scary and daunting. The first thing you need to do is accept that you are bound to make mistakes, face failures, and encounter hardships. In those situations, stay calm and be kind to yourself. This will make your life easier and your relationships will most likely improve. A study titled A range of kindness activities boost happiness published in The Journal of Social Psychology found that being kind to yourself or others, even a stranger for that matter, can increase your happiness in life.

Let go of your insecurities

Your lack of self-love usually stems from insecurities. Building self-esteem is probably the best way to get rid of your insecurities or at least keep them at bay. An easy way to accomplish this is by practising self-care. Book yourself a luxury day at the spa, start exercising, or do something that you are passionate about. Doing things that you love can work wonders for your self-confidence. You will feel good and happy with yourself. Shannon Kaiser, who wrote the book The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself, says, “Self-love is not a place we get to but a place we choose.”

Practice self-acceptance

When you accept who you are and not who you think you should be, it means you have accepted both your good and bad qualities. Most of the time, people find it hard to accept their flaws. Research shows that self-acceptance can reduce your focus on the negative aspects of oneself and a higher likelihood of engaging in acts of self-love. However, self-acceptance isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take considerable dedication on your part. But learning to love yourself for who you are can bring about a positive change in the way you live your life.

Cultivate good habits

Stop holding yourself to unrealistically high standards. Avoid spending all your energy focusing on what others are doing. You can combat these feelings by developing good habits which will make you feel good about yourself. According to a study led by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, “maintaining five healthy habits—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking—during adulthood may add more than a decade to life expectancy.”

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