Let me introduce you, to you….
To have a relationship with yourself sounds kind of bizarre doesn’t it?. What does that actually mean? What would it look and feel like? Well, I can only draw from my own experience and say that for me, it is not something that came naturally nor was it something I was encouraged to do when I was growing up. In fact when I first heard the term “self-love”, the words selfish, vain, self-centred, all sprung to mind, making me realise in hindsight, that somehow along the way, I developed a very limiting belief that caring for myself was selfish and oh how wrong I was.
So, when did I first meet myself I hear you ask? I am not sure if there was a defining moment or instead a series of steps taken in the right direction. I still feel I am unpeeling the layers and layers of hurt, pain, other people’s opinions, and only now getting to the root of who I am, and guess what, I like her, I mean me…. well you know what I mean.
I do know for sure that becoming aware of how I spoke to myself and how I processed other people’s opinion of me was a major starting point. So what were the steps… Louise L Hay developed a list of 1-10 of how to love yourself :
Stop All Criticism
Don’t Scare Yourself
Be Gentle and Kind and Patient
Be Kind to Your Mind
Be Loving to Your Negatives
Take Care of Your Body
Do Mirror Work
For more information and to see 2 additional points, click here :
When I first received this list at my Heal Your Life teaching training, I felt huge relief, you see I love lists and I love to take direction, because I was finding all this “self-love” thing a bit whacky,and I needed to know exactly HOW to do it, and here it was in a list, this was exactly what I needed, if I do this, I should be grand in a month or so, right? Er….no, but it was insightful and it did wake me up to what exactly I needed to do to start showing up for myself in all areas of my life.
You see when anything went wrong and many things did, the first person I blamed was myself. If a boyfriend cheated on me, that was my fault, if a friend got annoyed when I put a boundary in place, that was my fault, if my mother was upset about anything, that was my fault, are you starting to see a pattern? EVERYTHING was my fault! How did I process this, well I didn’t, I just lived and breathed it, I dreamt about it, I talked about it, I re-read texts, I replayed scenarios in my head, talked about it some more, until it finally passed, however in my heart the self blame and loathing lingered on for many, many years. I am still in the process of healing that.
“It did wake me up to what exactly I needed to do to start showing up for myself in all areas of my life”.
So back to the list, when I went through each point, I wasn’t scoring well…at all. My thoughts every single morning were those of self loathing and criticism. I berated myself daily on the inside and yet smiled on the outside, well most of the time. I pushed and pushed and pushed myself to do well in my career as I felt my personal life was disastorous. I was in one bad relationship after another and taking responsibility for other peoples behaviours. My self esteem was through the floor and I carried an energy of failure on my shoulders.
EVERYTHING was my fault!
I watched friend after friend achieve their life goals, marriage, homes, kids and I was in a loop of despair and blaming myself for it. I reflected on every relationship I had and started to surmise, “he must have thought I was not pretty enough”, “he must have thought I was needy” or “he probably thought I was too serious”. Of course I did not actually know what any one of them thought but I presumed it was bad, it had to be right, sure it was my fault. It was only when I was in my teacher training one day that I realised something, after sharing a story or 10 about failed relationships, be it romantic, friendships, family, I had gone through it all, and telling the room what those people thought of me, our teacher stopped me, quite abruptly actually and said “Gillian, what other people think of you is none of your business, its what you think of you that is your business”.
At first I was very thrown by her directness, I completely resisted what she had said, there was no way this was true, but why then were the people around me nodding in agreement?, that was kind of irritating. Of course what people think of me matters, I need people to like me, to love me to accept me, I thought to myself…oh wait, it suddenly hit me, I need to do all that for myself first, and there it was, the first big AHA moment (and there have been many, many more since).
I began to look for opportunities to love myself more and to develop a relationship with myself. For me it was much needed in the morning times, those were my most vulnerable times, where I could wake up and full on berate myself for something that I did the night before, for something that may not have happened yet or to take blame for other peoples actions or inactions. For those of you who have followed me for a while or attended my workshops, you will know that practicing gratitude has fundamentally changed how I looked at the world and how I treat myself.
“Gillian, what other people think of you is none of your business, its what you think of you that is your business”.
So why am I sharing this with you now as we are going through a world health crisis, an experience like none we have had before. Well it struck me recently, what story are we telling ourselves to get through this time. I know for many of you out there, you are experiencing high stress, anxiety, pain, loss and loneliness, and I want you to know something, the person that can comfort you the most right now is YOU. Have you ever considered that before? Would you be willing to try it?
Below are some of the strategies I use to manage negative thoughts. These tips have helped me greatly with buidling a relationship with myself, and I hope they help you too.
My wish is for you all to LOVE yourself through this time, so let me finish by saying….
“I would like to introduce you to someone, someone who you may never have met before,but somehow I just know you will really get along ….. meet YOU”