LOVE YOURSELF FIRST
Learning the art of self-love, or taking better care of yourself, can improve your relationship
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.”
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