When it came time to start writing this blog, I was unsure of what I wanted the initial focus to be. Feeling a bit overwhelmed as there so much that I wanted to put out there, yet not knowing what to focus on first. In the end I decided what was most important to any woman regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation was simply her relationship with Herself.
Most often in therapy a lot of time is spent on women’s relationships with others- rarely does a woman say I want to improve my relationship with myself. Sometimes as therapy progresses we can get there once the individual realizes that self-esteem, self-worth and self-acceptance all are related to how she treats herself. People learn how to treat us, based on how we treat ourselves. How we’ve described, or defined ourselves is based on the relationship we have with ourselves.
So what is the quality of our relationship? Is it loving, nurturing and gentle or is it punitive, hateful and hurtful? Maybe it is a combination of the two dependent upon what kind of day we are having? What has influenced this relationship? Family, partners, friends and media? Who has socially constructed the idea of what it means to be a woman, what a woman should or should not do or be? In dominant western society chances are these ideals, roles, expectations and behaviours have been largely defined by men. Unfortunately women have bought into this concept, and use it as a measuring stick. When we fail to live up to society’s standards of what we should do or be, we then internalize it, and we blame ourselves and often hate ourselves.
Being dependent on the approval of others can cause vulnerability, shame and feeling like you are never quite good enough. And if that doesn’t cause you stress, anxiety or depression, I’m not sure what will.
So how do we improve our relationship with ourselves? We move to a gentle place, we offer understanding, compassion and forgiveness. We aren’t forgiving ourselves for our shortcoming; we are forgiving ourselves for not unconditionally loving ourselves. Taking care of our relationship with our selves first can improve other important relationships we have with partners, friends, children and co-workers.
It will give us the courage to ask for what we want, and say no to what doesn’t work for us. Making a change in your relationship with yourself, will not be easy or happen overnight. However once you begin to become aware of how you have been treating yourself, an insight will develop. With this insight you can begin to challenge or questions where the ideas came from and whether or not you are ready to let them go…
My advice is to start these changes now, before a another day is lost.