How’s your self-love? This was a question a friend was asked after a relationship breakdown and an agonising time of dealing with the fallout from friends, family and her employer. It’s a great question because in responding to it honestly there is no place to hide from the truth. It’s hard if not impossible to put up a mask to ourselves. It’s easy to put it up to the world at large and carry on, blithely responding to that most Australian question “How are you going?” with the glib and often fake answer “All good” when things are far from that inside.
Most of us are brought to reflection on the journey – life that is – and the various stages that certainly seem to appear more clearly in that hindsight. These moments can reveal our development as a person and as a personality. Much of that development comes in the aftermath of powerful personal experiences where we have been challenged to deal not only with the situation but the reaction to what’s happened and the result of that.
It’s true for all of us that in adversity we find our strengths. Simply put, we have to. This is really the journey isn’t it? You’re going along and then ‘whack’ life gives you a test. After the shock you meet the challenge in whatever way works for you working with the resources you have. Gradually things settle down and then ‘whack’ the next challenge and repeat. The great thing along the way is that we develop a relationship with ourselves and build connections with others.
So, imagine for a moment that all of the relationships that you have no longer exist. The connections, friendships, family, work, loves and hates have ceased. All of them! You are once again and truly on your own. There is no support, no casual chats, no phone-a-friend. Now, if you can do that, what do you feel?
For many it would be a combination of fear, anxiety, loneliness and isolation. Remember, we are designed to be social animals. It is part of our success as a species and that success puts relationships very firmly at the centre of our world.
Consider then which of your relationships is the most important? Many will say family, friends, spouse, children or significant other. Obviously they are important, however the most important – the most critical relationship you can have in the first instance is with yourself. When this relationship is sound every other relationship you have is enriched and the reliance on others to validate you diminished. We could call that our self-love and self-acceptance is at the heart of it.
Now while it’s all very well having a high regard for self and a high level of self-awareness, the key is to also have a high regard for and a high level of awareness of others as well. In other words when you are comfortable with you being you, you are more likely to be more accepting of and open to others.
We don’t know what a person has been through to get to where they are. In fact we don’t see people as they are we see people as we are!
If we can accept that every person has a story, a different story and that that story shapes our behaviour and reaction then my very personal belief is that we approach every person, including ourselves, with curiosity and genuine care. Imagine a world without judgement, comparison and the prison of ego driven pride?
How would that impact on your relationship with yourself? And others?