The Most Important Relationship Is The One You Have with Yourself
Are you like so many others who constantly seek validation outside of yourself? You may not even realize that you do it. But if you really stop and think about it, do you often look to other people or relationships to make you feel worthy or loved?
This is a trait that is usually exacerbated when you struggle with food and body, because it’s likely that you are often overwhelmed with shame, guilt, and self-loathing, so what little love and appreciation you allow yourself to experience likely comes from an external source. However, the truth is that the most important relationship you have is actually the one with yourself, and it’s important to get to a place where you can love and appreciate yourself.
Looking at Your Relationships
In order to take stock of your relationships, including the one with yourself, you need to go way back. It’s very likely that your present day relationships model the relationship you had with your primary caregiver. We are so easily shaped as children, because when we are young we literally have no life experience or anything else to compare our experience to. So whatever we see or experience, we tend to take on as our own behaviors and beliefs.
When you were a child, if your mother was constantly criticizing your weight and restricting the foods you were allowed to eat, you likely took on her belief that you needed to lose weight as your own. And, because you were a child and were receiving this message from your mother, you probably believed that her love was conditional on whether or not you lost weight and looked a certain way. Fast forward to present day – is your love for yourself conditional on how you look and the number on the scale?
Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and look at external influences and relationships that may be affecting how you are showing up for yourself – or not showing up for yourself. You need to take the time to take inventory of your identity and beliefs to see if they really align with who you are or who you want to be.
Are you really the fat girl who is always on a fad diet – or is that who your mother expects you to be?
Is it really necessary to sacrifice your own desire to eat healthier because your boyfriend loves junk food and expects you to keep it stocked in the house?
Do you really, truly, deep down hate yourself and your body, or is that just a false belief that you picked up and internalized somewhere along the course of your life?
Take some time and space to really evaluate who you are now, who you want to be, and the false identities and stories that may be holding you back. Once you can identify the beliefs that fuel your behaviors that are keeping you stuck, then you can slowly start to shift them. For instance, it’s likely your mother’s belief that you need to be a certain weight informs your present day decision to try (and fail) one fad diet after another, making you perpetually miserable. It’s imperative to make yourself a priority first, and really start to work on your relationship with yourself, because real, lasting transformation is founded in self-love and compassion, and you need to cultivate both to see change.
How to Make Your Relationship With Yourself a Priority
First, you need to evaluate the other relationships in your life. How are you showing up for others? How are you allowing them to show up for you? Be clear on your negotiables and non-negotiables. You must take emotional responsibility for your participation in every relationship in your life and be willing to set boundaries and potentially release the people who are toxic to you and your experience. If visiting your mother every weekend drives you to a 2-day binge afterwards, you need to limit the time you spend with her.
Take inventory of how you are showing up in your romantic relationship. What are the needs you’re seeking from your partner that are actually what you’re seeking from yourself? Once you become aware of those needs, use your discernment and ask yourself: who has this need? Is it my inner child? Is this stemming from past wounding? Is this need one of my evolved woman who is seeking that need from a place of self-respect and worth? Dig deep and really peel back the layers of what you are seeking through your relationship, and how it impacts or possibly stems from your relationship to yourself.
For example, maybe you and your boyfriend fight frequently because you need him to be more vocal about how he loves you no matter your size, but he does and has said it before and doesn’t understand why he needs to keep repeating it over and over again. It’s likely this need for reassurance and love stems from your parental wound around your mother’s love being conditional on your weight. This is a need that your inner child is seeking to be met, and in reality, it’s one that you need to fulfill, not your boyfriend.
You first need to be the very thing that you are seeking. Regardless of where a need is coming from, reflect on how you can be more of what you seek. How can you cultivate the very feeling you desire from within?
If you are desperately seeking love in your relationship, how can you first be love? Ask yourself: What am I doing to cultivate the feeling that I want in my relationship? If you want more verbal affection, what would that look like for you to give it to yourself? This is why your relationship to yourself is so important – you have the power to fulfill your own needs. You don’t need to look outside of yourself to feel a certain way.
When it comes to the struggle with food and body, we tend to always look outside of ourselves to “fix it.” Whether it’s a trendy fad diet, weight loss supplements, or seeking affection, support, and reassurance from a loved one, we turn anywhere but inward. However the reality is that your relationship with yourself is the most important one of all. It’s what fuels your beliefs and therefore your behaviors, like binge eating and hating your body. It’s also the foundation for any type of true, sustainable transformation. It’s not going to be the perfect diet that makes you stop binge eating every night, it’s going to be loving yourself so much that you want to overcome the fight with food because you just want to feel good and be happy. Period. And you can. It all starts with you.
We can only receive love from others to the degree that we can love ourselves.
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