Person to Person: Improving your relationship with yourself
During times of isolation or loneliness, you likely focus on people you miss spending time with. The nation’s crisis involving the coronavirus has forced us to socially distance. It’s painful for most.
But, staying alone a lot might provide a blessing in disguise. Why? We can examine our relationship with ourselves and what we need to change.
For example, if you don’t like your choices in life, now is a good time to plan for changes in the near future. After all, we will return to a pattern of normalcy in due time.
“I think I have some habits that are defeating me,” says a business owner we’ll call Phil. “Now that I’ve been forced to slow down, I want to take a clearer look at what I have control over. I want my future to be a lot better than my past.”
Phil says he’s figured out three areas he wants to fine-tune.
“First, I think I need to pay more attention to my physical well-being,” he explains. “Not having any energy keeps me from getting the most out of every day. While I do OK, I’m so tired most of the time, I can’t enjoy life as I should.”
Phil says two other areas he needs to work on are “better communication with my family” and “spending designated time with friends.”
He admits that his wife and kids are frustrated a lot. “I know I haven’t sat down in years and really asked them what’s on their minds, because I’ve pushed so hard to run my business,” he confesses. “But now that I’m home more, we talk for about 30 minutes before dinner every night. We just take turns sharing what’s on our minds. It’s slow, but I think it’ll get better.”
Phil says he’s neglected his friendships so badly over the past three years he’s surprised his friends are still connecting with him.
“Every night these days, I try to call or text someone in my friendship circle,” he says. “Even a text that takes 10 seconds to write let’s someone know they matter to you.”
Improving a relationship with ourselves means we all have to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Are we happy with our daily routines, our goals, our interactions with others? What’s missing in our lives? What habits serve us well? Which habits do not serve us well?
“I decided to start my inward assessment by figuring out what I do like about myself,” says a teacher we’ll call Maggie. She got divorced last year, and she’s been haunted by questions such as: What did I do wrong? Will I ever get my life back on track?
“Reclaiming your inner peace means you validate your strong points,” says Maggie. “I refuse to be defined by my ex-husband, who was impossible to please. I want to see myself from the perspective of being the person I truly want to be.”
Most of us know our weak points. Maybe we’re a little disorganized, not good with sticking to a budget, or too critical of others. Working on our weak points becomes much easier if we truly like who we are.
“Operating from a position of strength, meaning you do validate yourself and like yourself, it’s much easier to tweak those weaknesses,” says Maggie. “Liking yourself means you feel empowered, and you know you can accomplish what you need to.”
Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips.” She is also executive director of USA Wellness Café at usawellnesscafe.org . Emma Hopson is a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.