Normally, I would never gravitate towards a memoir like The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships because honestly, a story about a man’s struggle with monogamy doesn’t interest me — sex addiction clinics, orgies and swing parties (oh my!). But when my girlfriend recommended Neil Strauss’ book based on the sheer vulnerability he writes with, I decided to break from my usual go-to’s in the self-help section and see what he had to say.
He paints vivid pictures of alternative sex lives (which does make for a highly entertaining read), but it’s his account of rehab — and the therapy he underwent — that threads these chapters together. Because although he initially set out to restore his relationship with his girlfriend, ultimately he realized it’s the relationship to himself he must honor in order to have true happiness.
In my life, I’ve found when I carve out ME time, or honor the relationship I have with myself, I have more to offer others. Though it may seem counterintuitive — to take time for yourself to enhance your relationship with those around you, it works!
In my home, it’s called the trickle down effect — when Mom’s well fed, everyone else is well fed too. Except I’m not actually referring to food. It’s about taking care of myself so I can care for others. And knowing who I am so I can be clearer on how I show up in the world, and what I have to offer. By strengthening the relationship to myself, I set the foundation for relating better to others.
Does it seem like a lot of work – strengthening the relationship to yourself? It’s not. The biggest hurdle is finding the time, and once this is established you’re on your way!
Here are 3 things you can do today to fortify this relationship:
As you sit quietly, you’ll notice your thoughts come to the surface. It could be anything from what’s for lunch to why did I wear this top today? Those thoughts are not really you. They are only thoughts – plans, worries, emotions. The real you is behind those thoughts. Imagine a blue sky with puffy clouds floating by. The thoughts are the clouds. You are the blue sky. If your mind settles, you may catch glimpse of the blue sky. It may be fleeting. Or you may be with it for awhile. Regardless, this is who you are, and the more frequently you connect to this version of yourself, the more harmonious your life will become.
To get started begin dumping everything out of your brain. If it’s first thing in the morning you may write about your dreams. Or how you slept. Just keep going with whatever comes up. While with meditation there’s usually a time limit, with journaling you keep writing until the words run dry. The purpose is to clear the mind because once the thoughts are emptied, there’s a blue sky, or the true you, to connect with.
Sometimes referred to as a journey of the self through the self to the self — the physical practice of yoga, known as “asana”, is a sure-fire way to get to know who you are. With a focus on the breath, you move the body into an array of shapes and positions which may cause the mind to react. But you just stay with the breath no matter what the body is doing. Eventually, you may find the mind quiets, even if you’re balancing on your head. You learn how to be with the discomfort. You learn how to just be with what is.
If you’re ready to amp up the relationship to yourself, try all 3 of the above one after the other. It’ll definitely help get you grounded into who you are, and it’s likely the benefits of this connection will spill over into the rest of your life.
How do you keep the relationship to yourself strong? Have you used any of the practices above to help? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!