LOVE YOUR­SELF FIRST

Learn­ing the art of self-love, or tak­ing bet­ter care of your­self, can im­prove your re­la­tion­ship

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - SETTER STYLE -

if you want to have a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship

What’s stop­ping you from hav­ing the love life you want? It may be your own low self-es­teem that’s drag­ging your re­la­tion­ship down – maybe you’ve been through a tough time, and are find­ing it hard to love your­self, much less some­one else.

“Self-love pro­vides aware­ness to ap­pre­ci­ate one­self and be grate­ful for who you are, which helps in­ner growth and in­trin­sic ful­fill­ments which then sup­port the holis­tic self,” says psy­chol­o­gist Daniel Koh of In­sights Mind Cen­tre.

“With self-love, you will ac­cept your­self as a whole, and have a bal­ance be­tween the pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive. This will lead to you be­ing less judge­men­tal and self-crit­i­cal, and more for­giv­ing to­wards one­self.”

In his book Be­ing You, Changing The World, self-help guru Dr Dain Heer ex­plains that a shift in mind­set can cre­ate a hap­pier, emo­tional life – and that a good re­la­tion­ship will fol­low.

“Ev­ery­body is rush­ing to get into re­la­tion­ships as if it’s go­ing to be the saviour of their prob­lems. It sel­dom is, be­cause if you’re look­ing for a so­lu­tion to your prob­lems out­side of your­self, you just won’t find it.

“If you feel like you’re never go­ing to be happy and you’re go­ing to die if you don’t get some­thing, it re­pels peo­ple. Do you want to be around some­one like that? Prob­a­bly not. It’s pretty sim­ple.”

If you’re hav­ing dif­fi­culty ac­cept­ing your­self, here are some ways you can prac­tise self-love.

Fig­ure Out What You Need

Some­thing you could try is to write down: ‘What is one thing I need from a re­la­tion­ship that I’m not will­ing to give my­self?’, sug­gests Dr Heer.

“If you get re­ally vul­ner­a­ble and hon­est with your­self, you’ll start to see what it is you’re ex­pect­ing some­one else to de­liver – maybe it’s re­spect, sta­bil­ity or kind­ness. Once you start giv­ing your­self what you need, peo­ple will start to show up to sup­port that.”

Ask your­self what is im­por­tant in your life and move to­wards it, adds

Daniel. “Work on what you need, rather than chas­ing af­ter what other peo­ple want in life.”

Learn From Your Par­ents

We were these lit­tle blobs of joy and pos­si­bil­ity when we came into this world, and then we learned how to be in re­la­tion­ships from our par­ents, pick­ing up both the good and the bad.

Write down ev­ery­thing that’s not cur­rently work­ing that comes into your aware­ness over a few days, ad­vises Dain. “Ask your­self : ‘Is this truly my point of view, or did I buy it from Mum or Dad?’ Then take the pa­per and burn it.

“An­other thing to write down is: What is work­ing in my re­la­tion­ship that I took from Mum or Dad? And what would it take for these parts of my re­la­tion­ship to get even greater? Most of us are on au­topi­lot dur­ing our re­la­tion­ships, and just by shift­ing your fo­cus, you can start to change your be­hav­iour.”

Learn To For­give Your­self

For­give your­self for past mis­takes or fail­ure. “You can­not change the past ; hence, there is no point in hold­ing onto it,” says Daniel. “In­stead, learn how to love your­self in the present.”

Peo­ple who have been through a di­vorce may have a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult time prac­ti­cis­ing self-love. “The fail­ure of the mar­riage does not rep­re­sent your life­long stand­ing,” says Daniel. “It is part of your life, but it does not dic­tate your hap­pi­ness in the long term. Learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence, and change if you have to, as long as it’s for the bet­ter. For­give all in­volved and move on by giv­ing your­self space and time to grieve and heal through in­still­ing love, care and courage in your life.”

Con­cen­trate On Your Best Qual­i­ties

Fo­cus on the good points of your char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity, and look past all your neg­a­tive points to find your true self again. Avoid com­par­ing your­self with oth­ers, but learn to ap­pre­ci­ate what you have in­stead. “Re­mem­ber that you need to love your­self if you want to live life and to love oth­ers,” says Daniel. “Be com­pas­sion­ate to your­self and have em­pa­thy for your­self and oth­ers.”

Set Bound­aries

This is cru­cial if you’re look­ing to pro­tect your­self from crit­i­cal peo­ple and neg­a­tive en­vi­ron­ments. Look af­ter your­self, and set clear goals for as­pects of your life, like es­tab­lish­ing work-life bal­ance. Put your­self in sit­u­a­tions that help you grow, un­der­stand, com­fort and re­as­sure your­self, Daniel ad­vises.

Ac­knowl­edge When You’re Wrong

The thing about most peo­ple is that they’d rather be right than to have a good re­la­tion­ship. We have such a high stan­dard of per­fec­tion of our spouses and our­selves that it’s im­pos­si­ble to main­tain, says Dr Heer.

“None of us are per­fect – we all screw up, we all raise our voices or get up­set or storm off. When you say, ‘Look, you’re right, I’m wrong. I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up for the dam­age done?’, it’s a way of re­pair­ing the re­la­tion­ship. Ninety-nine per cent of the time your spouse will look at you and an­swer, ‘You just did.’ How­ever, this tool is some­thing that should be used spar­ingly. If you use it too of­ten, you’re putting your­self down, and it be­comes a form of self-abuse.”

Don’t Take Crit­i­cism Per­son­ally

When your hus­band crit­i­cises you, in­stead of agree­ing with him or get­ting de­fen­sive, re­act by think­ing, ‘That’s in­ter­est­ing.’ This helps you be present. “You’re no longer try­ing to de­fend or prove your­self. You just get to be you – what­ever that is,” says Dr Heer.

“But an­other thing to con­sider is, if you’re con­stantly feel­ing wrong in your re­la­tion­ship, it may not be the right re­la­tion­ship to be in.”

Be Con­fi­dent In Your­self

It can be hard to love your­self when you have the weight of oth­ers’ ex­pec­ta­tions on you. But the key to be­ing happy and re­laxed in your­self is to ac­cept your­self, re­gard­less of what oth­ers may think of you. “Re­mem­ber to be who you are, rather than what oth­ers want you to be, or how so­ci­ety shapes you,” says Daniel. “By know­ing what you need, think and feel, these in­sights help you to bet­ter un­der­stand your­self. They will also give you the strength to live your life, al­low­ing you to re­as­sure your­self that you are do­ing okay.”

WThe key to be­ing happy and re­laxed in your­self is to ac­cept your­self, re­gard­less of what oth­ers may think of you

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