Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you accept yourself as is? I hope so, because just like any relationship, liking, loving, and accepting yourself are foundational for developing a relationship with yourself. If you’re having issues with either of these three, there are plenty of self-help books, gurus, and of course, therapists, who can lead the way. I suggest starting there, before reading about my version of developing a relationship with yourself:
Years ago, I wrote a book called The Unhappy Wife. In it, I’d interviewed 12 women, one being myself. As I listened to each woman’s story, it became clear to me that we didn’t love ourselves. It was also apparent that we were detached from our bodies and emotions, and subsequently…ourselves. Yet we had bent over backwards in immeasurable ways to figure out how to be in relationship with men. I remember wondering what it would look like to give yourself as much attention as you did another human being? What would it be like to pour into a relationship with yourself? I think this is important, because withstanding mental illness, no one can really care about you more than you care for yourself.
So, that’s what I did.
One year, I began a self-love campaign. I asked 30 women, who I knew personally, what it meant to love yourself. I’m not going to debate about if pedicures or therapy is the “real” self-love approach, because guess what? There is no argument. For some women, it will be imperative to go to the spa. For others, it will be important to schedule a breast exam. And some may just need to sit down somewhere and be quiet, without distraction. We have to stop being so binary about this. All it does is cloud and confuse the overarching issue, which is simple: Cultivate a relationship with yourself that matters to you.
Another year, I thought about what I’d do if I was dating someone. What would that look like? I would want to find out what that person liked and disliked to see if we vibe or not. I’m married, so on some level, the point was moot, but I decided to change “someone” to me. I began trying different activities. We may think we know what we like, but a lot of times it’s based on tradition and repetition. It’s easy to get into a rut and believe that you only like to watch Netflix on Sundays from 12p-12a; however, there are other things you may enjoy that you haven’t even entertained.
Here are a few other ways to develop a relationship with yourself:
- Go somewhere by yourself! This isn’t just about “dating yourself,” which is a thing. This is more like thinking about if someone said they wanted to take you on a date, where would you tell them to take you? Now, do it for yourself. Try that new restaurant. Go on a day trip. Take yourself on a picnic. Whatever you can conjure up is what you should do, without any qualms or fears. One time, I took myself on a weekend trip to Panama City Beach. I had a blast…all…by…my…self.
- Write a list of 10 things you’d do if you had time, space, or money. Now, choose one, and find the time, space, or money. To get to know who you are today, in this moment, you have to be intentional. You think you don’t have time, space, or money, but that’s probably not true. For example, I was invited to a two-hour networking event. When the day came, I felt as if I didn’t have the time. The reality was I didn’t want to make the time. That Saturday, instead of reading or writing blogs, I attended the event, and it was beneficial.
- Check your city’s Groupon list. One way to learn what you may or may not like to do is to check Groupon. A couple Christmases ago, I saw an offer for viewing Christmas lights in St. Augustine, which is about 20 minutes from me. In that city, vacationers ride on a trolley, with strings of lights, while singing Christmas carols! That sounded really cool to me. Full disclosure…I didn’t do that activity, but my husband planned something similar for us on a small boat around the same city. Remember, learning what you like to do doesn’t always mean you have to do it alone, just that you honor the idea.
Finally, I know I’ve emphasized the importance of women doing this. That’s because I’m a woman, and I know sometimes, women end up acquiescing to other people’s whims, leaving us in a whirlwind of resentment of the consequences of our unconscious choices. However, no matter our gender, we should all learn to develop a relationship with ourselves, because it’s the most important relationship we’ll ever have.
I’m turning 50 on May 23rd, and in true kegarland form, I need to process and document it. Being on the earth for half a century, interacting with people, has taught me a few things, and I’ll be sharing them with you through June. Here is the first one: