During long dinners with friends, the topic of relationships inevitably arises. Regardless of whether we are married, engaged, dating, or single, we constantly discuss the qualities that that we desire in a significant other, such as kindness, patience, thoughtfulness, a sense of humor, and commitment.

But while we spend much of our time reflecting and analyzing what we want in a partner, there is one relationship that we often forget to discuss: our relationship with ourselves.

Rather than always seeking desirable traits in a significant other, we must first reflect on whether we are in a healthy relationship with ourselves, cultivating the qualities we want in others in ourselves. Let’s ask ourselves these questions:

Are we kind to ourselves? We are often our own harshest critic, constantly judging the way we look and the things that we regret, or doubting our ability for greatness. We must be our biggest supporter, offering endless support and encouragement in times of disappointment or frustration. We also must forgive ourselves when we feel shame for our imperfections.

Are we patient? It is so easy to become frustrated when we don’t accomplish goals in the timeframe we want. We say we want to try something new and when we don’t, we can feel like a failure. But we must be patient, giving ourselves space and time to achieve what we desire, and resting in peace when things don’t turn out in the time frame we want.

Are we thoughtful? We can allow ourselves a few wonderful indulgences occasionally! Fresh cut flowers from the farmers market, a delicious meal for one that we eat on a beautifully set-table, a single ticket to a retreat or a concert. So often we save thoughtful presents for special occasions for our friends or significant others, but a few small acts a month just for us is a wonderful way to show self-love. We are worth it!

Do we have a good sense of humor? I don’t just mean cracking funny jokes, but rather, are we able to laugh at ourselves, even when we are being ridiculous and difficult? When we act out in a way that makes us feel ashamed, can we kindly and gently smile at our silliness with the promise to do better next time?

Are we committed to the health of our relationship? We are stuck with ourselves. Because we’re married to the person we are for the rest of our lives, we must be committed to our health. That means carving out time to exercise and eat well, while also creating quiet time to listen to our own thoughts and feelings, be it in meditation, yoga, church, or nature. In all honesty, when we stray off course in terms of taking caring of ourselves, how can we have the dedication to our wellness to re-focus?

Before we invest time and energy to a significant other, we must meet our own needs, ensuring that we’re in a healthy relationships with ourselves. And from there, the health of our relationships with others will follow.

 

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