5 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Yourself

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A relationship with our bodies is exactly that: a relationship.

And as with any relationship, it can be positive and affirming or negative and destructive. It requires consistent communication and attention. Your relationship with yourself can be incredibly rewarding or a source of sadness and anxiety.  There will always be ups and downs, but by practicing healthy and consistent behaviors, you will find yourself balancing somewhere in the middle.

Learning to love and care for our bodies and our whole selves can be a daunting process. Expect some setbacks, but accept them and move towards a healthier relationship with some of these tips:

Find a better reason to live healthier than you “should”

Living a healthy lifestyle because you “should” is not sustainable. You won’t enjoy it, you won’t find satisfaction in it, and you won’t be able to sustain it. I wrote a post awhile ago about the difference between “should” and “could” that might help you change your perspective.

Find a reason to exercise or eat better that doesn’t revolve around a sense of obligation. Think of how lucky you are to do these things. If you run, be grateful for that fact. If you like to lift weights, reflect on each and every improvement. Pay attention to each new milestone you achieve. Pretty soon it will no longer be that you “should,” but that you “get to.”

Imperfections are not meant to be controlled

If you are anything like me, perfectionism can become the bane of your existence. You will have to realize that imperfections are not meant to be controlled. You can’t fight genetics (minus any paid alterations), so you will have to learn to embrace what you are given. You may fight that for a long time like I did, but ultimately you need to learn to love the body you were born with. I say the sooner the better, but you’re more than welcome to fight me on it.

I was unhappy with my body for many years and there are still days when it pisses me off, but if I am thinking in relationship terms, I need to treat myself the way I would want to be treated. Rather than try and manipulate ourselves into something we’re not, simply let go of that control and practice some acceptance. Doing this leads to things like being happy that my jeans are too tight. Not doing this leads me to exercise obsessively and restrict my eating.

Practice self-care

Back to relationships. How do you deserve to be treated? Learn to treat yourself with respect, dignity, and love. Learn to listen to what your body needs and wants. Poor self-care can be a sign that something deeper is going on either emotionally or with our priorities. Communicate with yourself as you would in any relationship to get below the surface and at what is actually going on.

Related: 10 Self-care Tips For When Life Gets Hard

Embrace the gray

I am a big fan of good vs. bad and black vs. white. I operate on two extreme ends of a spectrum and both can be equally damaging. It’s something I’m working on, but like everything else, it’s not perfect.

Learn to find your middle ground. Learn to balance. If you can only exercise three days a week, fine. If you can only get in 30 min today, fine. Find what YOUR balance is instead of living on either end of the spectrum. Not exercising at all and exercising seven days a week can be equally as detrimental.

Related: How to Balance Life and Blogging (substitute blogging with whatever you need help balancing)

Don’t put yourself down

Think about a healthy relationship. Does it involve insulting and putting down your partner? Does it involve pointing out his or her flaws? I’m guessing that most of you know the answer is no. Your body is your friend. Love your friend. Know that through everything, you are enough.

  • What other ways can you improve your relationship with yourself?

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud!

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25 Comments

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:48 am

      Exactly! Maybe I should make a shirt that says that so I remember 🙂

  1. August 20, 2015 / 6:24 am

    Something that helped me to improve my relationship with myself is to realize that I deserve to treat myself like I do my friends, peers, and even strangers: with respect and without pretense. Give myself the benefit of the doubt. And surround myself with people who do the same.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…In Defense of SummerMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:48 am

      Totes. All day.

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:40 am

      Of course! Thank YOU for reading Kylie!

  2. August 20, 2015 / 8:28 am

    Great tips Erin. I think not putting yourself down is huge. You need to change your mindset about yourself and push away negative thoughts when they come up otherwise they overtake the positive.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #41My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:49 am

      Totally. It’s always a practice for me too

  3. August 20, 2015 / 8:58 am

    Perfect timing for reading this post, thanks Erin! I’m guilty of sometimes getting freaked out by my muscle growth, but then I remember how weak and sick I was before when I didn’t have these muscles. These muscles represent change, strength, endurance, joy, fuel, recovery and yes, self love. Thanks for the awesome reminder!!!
    Danielle recently posted…kreamy kale w/ krunk kreamMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:49 am

      Exactly! I love it now and get excited when I reach a new goal or can do the same exercise with heavier weights 🙂

  4. August 20, 2015 / 9:34 am

    When I read embrace the gray, I immediately thought “I need to embrace my gray hairs, too” I always say that I need to treat myself with the same love and respect that I treat my friends. It makes a world of difference when you’re nice to yourself!
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…Herbal Facial SteamMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:49 am

      Oh totally. Embrace those as well!

  5. August 20, 2015 / 2:04 pm

    How do I love your posts, Erin? Let me count the ways… 🙂 Seriously, great message here. There is nothing to help you feel the difference between “should” and “get to” when you get injured and you *can’t* do something, whether it’s running or any other exercise. Thanks for the great post!
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…What do we mean by yoga practice?My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:50 am

      Haha you’re too cute. Yeah, I remember taking running for granted until I injured myself and I physically couldn’t for a whole summer. I need to remember to be grateful!

  6. August 20, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    It’s crazy to think how much easier it is to be kinder to others than it is to be kind to ourselves… And I love that you included self-care in these tips because I notice that’s one of the first things to go for me when I start getting snarky with myself. It’s like I just don’t want to put in the time or effort, but those are two of the biggest things in any relationship…
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #144 .My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:51 am

      Exactly. I used to think it was selfish, but now I realize just how important it is!

  7. August 20, 2015 / 4:43 pm

    I think our relationship with ourselves is the most difficult one. We can’t break up with ourselves, or let it run its course like sometimes happens with friendships. These are great tips that I desperately need to put into practice. Thanks for this.
    Heather@hungryforbalance recently posted…ABCDEFGMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:51 am

      Anytime! I definitely agree. We are stuck with ourselves, so why not make it a pleasurable experience?

  8. August 20, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    YES. OH YES. It will ALWAYS be ups and downs, imperfections, and GREY. Learning to allow all of that is so challenging at times! I see it in myself, and in my clients. They/I get frustrated when there’s a down, or grey, or imperfections. IT’S ALL OKAY! XOXO. Thanks for writing this post today; I needed it.
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Try This Thursday 8/20 – sweet Blue Diamond almondsMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:52 am

      Of course. Thanks for reading. I need to remind myself of these things ALL the time.

  9. August 20, 2015 / 10:30 pm

    I’m so with you on the black and white thing. In my head it’s always “good or bad” — there’s no gray area. Definitely working on that too. Love this 🙂
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…How to throw a potluck dinnerMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      August 21, 2015 / 10:52 am

      It’s a really hard pattern of thinking to break and I have to work on it all the time!

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