Thinking of your relationships as self care

In 2015 when I had my first son, due to a variety of factors, including lack of sleep, I was exhausted beyond belief. I was saddened because I was struggling to breastfeed and felt completely disconnected from my body. But at the same time, I felt so much shame and guilt for this detachment because I should have been grateful to it for sustaining and developing a baby for over 9 long months that resulted in a healthy baby boy.

Like many new mums, I went to great lengths to keep our lives running as smoothly as before we had our baby. But it was hard! I felt like I needed to do it all just because that was what was expected of me.

I had been blessed with the joy of motherhood, but I did not feel it.

I spent many days self-loathing and criticising when I felt I had not managed to complete the day’s tasks or was not able to prepare dinner.

It was as though a mystic fog had set over my life and I was all alone and lost in it. I started getting depressed and began to get anxious for the first time in my life and knew that I had to save myself from drowning in my own big emotions.

But one day, I had an ah-ah moment. I cannot give my son what I do not have. I could not teach my son to love himself, to be self-confident, and not second guess himself if I did not do the same for myself. I simply could not be the parent he needed while being filled with self-hatred. This marked the beginning of my journey of self-love and acceptance. I did not know where to begin my journey but I did know that I would figure it out. This self-criticising needed to end and I decided to make myself a priority.

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONSHIPS

Healthy relationships are open vessels of love and, along with gratitude, are the highest forms of healing energy you can receive in your life.

Healthy relationships are considered one of the pillars for your well-being because they provide you with energy that nurtures you from within. Relationships also confirm who we are. Being aware of this, relationships have always been one of the highest priorities in my life. I have always been dedicated to my partner, friends and family, focused on quality rather than quantity. And, I have to admit, I have always felt pretty good at it. Before I had children, I worked in public relations so basically made a career out of my relationships.

But since the pandemic and even before that, since having children, I have come to understand more profoundly how all types of relationships have an impact on our well-being and searched for ways to strengthen this area of our life.

As humans, we feel the need to relate to others in order to feel worthy and to feel that we belong. We are social creatures. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. All kinds of relationships play an essential role in our lives! We act and react to the people around us all the time—This includes your family, friends, colleagues at work and even people you meet at the café or gym you attend. So it’s critical to learn how to engage with everyone.

A recent Harvard study acknowledged that by following subjects for many decades and comparing the state of their health and their relationships early on, he was fairly confident that strong social bonds have a causal role in long-term health and well-being and said that “Our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships with family, with friends and with community.”

Robert Waldinger, the director of the study and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School continues on to say The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

Because my husband works long hours six days a week while I manage the kids and work part time from home, I started experimenting with different ways to become more satisfied with the “relationship area” of my life.

I started attending getting in touch with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, stopped to chat to the coffee guy more often, I even found a co-working spaces to get me out of the house. Turns out, just being in the presence of people with whom you have something in common with contributes to your well-being! And this is because all types of encounters are exchanges of energy.

 

DEVELOPING A DEEPER RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS AS
A FORM OF SELF CARE

However, despite just being around other people having an uplifting effect on your wellbeing, it is the quality of these relationships that is truely essential for healing.

Healthy relationships require that both people respect and trust each other, have an open and non-judgmental dialogue as well as a practice of give-and-take.  

We need to invest in taking the time to listen, to learn, and to understand others. And we need to pursue relationships which are healthy, loving, and safe, and avoid those which are toxic. To create strong bonds with those who we spend the most time with, and to be mindful of the importance these people have in our life because we often take them for granted.

We should focus on having compassion and respect (when deserved) of our friends, family, and significant others which are keys to fostering healthy communication. We should nurture the positive relationships in our lives and be accepting of each other’s flaws – because we all have them.

And if you invest in the relationships of quality and then you won’t have to worry about the quantity.

 

 

CULTIVATING A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF

Relationships with others are hard because they work as mirrors. We are constantly confronted with an aspect of ourselves that we don’t like and which we are forced to accept and work on. We think our negative feelings stem from something that the other has done to us but in most cases the other doesn’t hold any bad intention. They are simply challenging a belief that we hold about ourselves and which we are struggling to accept.

The key to healthy and profound relationships is taking responsibility for our own feelings. Having the courage to work through them so we can become the best possible version of ourselves for us and for the ones around us.

In looking at ourselves though, It is important to understand, that what we think, is not always true. Instead, it is often other people’s beliefs and thinking imposed on us.

You are deserving of all good things, unconditionally. You deserve to feel great about yourself, your life, body, career choices, family, and relationships.

And when you adopt this perspective on life will enable you to have:

  • Full acceptance: you will enjoy an exceptional and compassionate relationship with yourself. The number one relationship you will ever share is with yourself.
  • Resilience: You are human and you will experience failure. However, loving yourself through difficult times in life will enable you to extend yourself grace. Grace will lead you to acknowledge your feelings just where you are and also provide you with the strength to get up once again.
  • Thriving relationships: When you are in a relationship with another person and feel worthless yourself, you will feel you are not deserving of a great relationship. This may cause issues in intimacy and honesty. Loving yourself will enable you to enjoy an strong relationship based on honesty and trust.

Laura Ruston

Mum to Harvey. Wife to Dave. Founder of MUMOKI. Art lover, design obsessed, lipstick hoarder.