We all come into this world like nice farm fresh eggs with pristine, flawless shells. Life happens and along the way we get cracks in our shells. Some of our cracks are barely noticeable, and some are so deep some of our insides start to leak. Then we meet people and get involved in relationships. Sometimes we assume other eggs have our same cracks, or that they don’t have cracks at all. If we poke or prod the other eggs in the wrong way, those cracks can break the shell, and our relationships can suffer or end. Learning your partner’s cracks can be very helpful in avoiding this. But do you want to know the often missed FIRST step? Learning your own cracks!
Where am I going with this egg metaphor, besides getting you to crave an eggs benny? The bottom line is the first step to any successful relationship is working on your relationship with yourself.
Perhaps not the news you wanted to hear, but the process can be quite fun and enriching, not to mention beneficial to your life and wellbeing. Once you’ve become more mindful and have healed some of your own cracks, you’re in a better place to attract healthier people and have happier relationships.
Here are 3 simple ways you can start fostering the kind of relationship you want with yourself, and simultaneously improve your relationships with others, today:
Your mind doesn’t turn off. Even when your body is recharging its batteries during sleep, your brain is hard at work processing and healing. It is a really amazing and powerful thing. With that power unharnessed, it can create some problems for your wellbeing. This brings us to our first challenge of noticing how you speak to yourself. We will call it your “thought voice.” In general, if that “thought voice” was another person, would you be his or her friend? Would you continue to meet them for lunch if they talked to you that way? Do they sound like anyone you know?
There are a few common types of “thought voices” to be mindful of: The victim sounds like, “I’m powerless over everything that’s around me.” Replace the victim with the hero who might say, “I make my own life story. I’ve got people who support what I’m doing.” There is the critic who might say, “I did XYZ wrong,” who can be replaced with the cheerleader who says, “This is what I’m doing well.” We have the perfectionist who tells us, “It’s/I’m not good enough” versus the zen master who reminds us, “Things are good enough for today. I accept things how they are for now.” And last but not least, the worrier, “Everything is going wrong. Everything is going to go wrong,” who can be replaced with the optimist, “Good things are happening now. Things are going to get better.”
Notice, identify, replace, repeat.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine how you feed a baby. How much food do you put on the spoon? What is your tempo of feeding them? Now imagine feeding an elderly loved one. Notice, do you allow them time to chew and swallow before proceeding with feeding them the next bite? Do you stop when they say they are full? Most likely, you respect them and their bodies, and treat them in a gentle, loving way.
Now imagine feeding yourself, or take note during your next meal. Do you wait until your mouthful is finished before scooping in the next bite? Do you give yourself time between bites? Do you honour your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals? Do you offer yourself the same respect as you would your precious loved ones? Mindful eating is a wonderful way to self-care. Non-mindful eating is a quick way to self-abuse. This week, pick one meal a day to eat mindfully and pay your body the same respect you would a dependent loved one. Your body IS dependent on you to keep it well, and you only get one body in this lifetime. Treat it kindly.
What is the very first thing you think about upon waking? This first thing can be a really great indicator of your relationship with yourself and the world around you. That first thing sets the tone for your entire day. Take control of that by creating a morning routine. A morning routine can range from 30 seconds to 1 hour or beyond in length, but the important thing is that it does not have to be a significant time commitment. Here are some examples of morning routines that nurture your spirit and improve your most important relationships– the one between you and yourself, and the one between you and the world around you:
- List 5 things you are grateful for
- Think of 3 things you liked about yourself yesterday
- Set an intention for the day (kindness, integrity, honesty, mindfulness, etc.)
- Meditate for 1 minute on one thing you want the most
- List 3 things you are in awe of
- Spend 15 minutes enjoying a cup of tea before starting your day
- Go for a 20 minute walk outside
- Step outside and just actively listen and notice for 2 minutes
- Do one act of kindness on the way to work
- Start a 20 minute at-home morning yoga practice
- Look in the mirror. Smile.
- Send a quick message to someone you haven’t connected with in a while.
- Instead of zoning out to the radio on your commute, listen to something enriching like an audio book, a podcast, a language learning program.
The possibilities are endless. Play around with new things, or even a combination of things, and find something that fits you right now. It may change tomorrow, next week, next month, so go with the flow. Ensure that it is something that you enjoy and look forward to waking up to do, not a chore or something you feel you need to do. This is your time.
Helen Thomas MC, RCC, LPC