How Mindfulness Improves Your Relationship with Yourself
Mindfulness needs to start with your relationship with yourself. Trees need to withstand powerful storms, and the only way they can do that is by having deep roots for stability. With shallow roots, the tree can’t really stand upright. The deeper and stronger the roots, the bigger and more plentiful are the branches that the tree can produce.
In the same way, you need to nourish your relationship with yourself to effectively branch out to relate to others in a meaningful and fulfilling way.
Here are some tips to help you begin building a better relationship with yourself by using a mindful attitude:
Set the intention. Begin with a clear intention to begin to love and care for yourself. You’re not being selfish by looking after yourself; you’re watering your own roots, so you can help others when the time is right. You’re opening the door to a brighter future that you truly deserve as a human being.
Understand that no one’s perfect. You may have high expectations of yourself. Try to let them go, just a tiny bit. Try to accept at least an aspect of yourself you don’t like, if you can. The smallest of steps makes a huge difference. A little bit of kindness and acceptance of the way things are can start off a positive chain reaction to improve things for you.
Step back from self-criticism. As you practice mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts. You may be surprised to hear a harsh, self-critical inner voice berating you. Take a step back from that voice if you can, and know that you are not your thoughts. When you begin to see this, the thoughts lose their sting and power.
Be kind to yourself. Take note of your positive qualities, no matter how small and insignificant they seem, and acknowledge them. Maybe you’re polite, or a particular part of your body is attractive. Or perhaps you’re generous or a good listener. Whatever your positive qualities are, notice them rather than looking for the negative aspects of yourself or what you can’t do.
Forgive yourself. Remember that you’re not perfect. You make mistakes, and so do I. Making mistakes makes you human. By understanding that you can’t be perfect in what you do, and can’t get everything right, you’re more able to forgive yourself and move on. Ultimately, you can only learn through making mistakes – if you did everything correctly, you’d have little to discover about yourself.
Be grateful. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Try being grateful for all that you do have, and all that you can do. Can you see, hear, smell taste and touch? Can you think, feel, walk and run? Do you have access to food, shelter and clothing? Use mindfulness to become more aware of what you have.
Every evening before going to bed, write down three things that you’re grateful for, even if they’re really small and insignificant. Writing gratitude statements each evening has been proven to be beneficial for many people. Try this for a month and continue if you find the exercise helps you in any way.
Practice metta/loving kindness meditation. This is probably the most effective and powerful way of developing a deeper, kinder and more fulfilling relationship with yourself.