Contributor: Elizabeth Thibaudeau

We invest a lot into our relationships, but how often do we take the time to nurture the relationship with ourselves?

While hiking the other day, I was tuned into the Rich Roll podcast, and enlightened by a discussion he was having with his guest, Lisa Gottlieb. For those of you who may not know who she is, (don’t feel bad, I’d never heard of her) she’s a therapist who recently wrote a book titled, “Stories from a Therapist in Therapy”.

While the episode is fascinating and I highly recommend it, one thing she said really spoke to me: “Compare yourself to yourself. Where were you before and where have you come?”

This phrase really got me thinking about how harshly we judge ourselves. 

On my journey to becoming more mindful, I decided to ponder this concept during the rest of my hike, and into the rest of my week. How do you talk to yourself? Do you build yourself up? Do you give yourself credit for all the good things you do for your family, friends or community?

If I’m being honest, I am my absolute worst critic. In my eyes, I always fall short. I always have more to do, or ways to do it better. But when I think about how I engage with others, it’s completely different. I’m not quick to criticize, find fault or judge but instead am inclined to lift, motivate and encourage.

My goal is to try and help others see the good in themselves despite any shortcomings they may perceive. But if I truly value this mindset, then I have to question myself, ‘why don’t I do the same for me’? I asked myself, would I choose to be my own friend given the negative self-talk? Ultimately, the answer was ‘no’. Absolutely not. 

I made a commitment in that moment that I was going to work on my relationship with myself, which is the most important one after all. We hear a lot about improving relationships and connections with our significant other, children, siblings, parents and friends. But we don’t talk as much about how essential deepening our understanding and appreciation for our own divine nature is to enabling us in not only achieving our full potential, but also in feeling true joy.

I believe humans are divine, and therefore we are all of immense worth. We each, individually, have a distinct purpose to fulfill and have been gifted the innate talents and characteristics to accomplish all that we are destined to become. Even if some days we do it less perfectly, we are each on our own pathway to personal excellence. 

So yes, I’m in a new relationship…with Elizabeth, myself, yours truly. And as trivial as it may sound, I’m applauding mini victories, like getting up and exercising despite the dark rainy sky outside, or successfully completing a project for a client, or even for staying up (when I’m exhausted) with Finn, my son, while he finishes his homework.

I’m also cutting myself some slack by being less critical of my skin not looking like it did at 30 years old, or beating myself up for not completing my seemingly never ending daily to-do list and biggest of all not allowing myself to feel like a failure for trail walking on days when trail running physically and mentally feels like climbing Mt. Everest. 

As I’ve started this practice, I’m developing compassion for not only all that Elizabeth is today, but also for the potential of what she will become. I’m channeling the same patience I have for others I love in my life, to myself. This insight has given me strength in ways I couldn’t have comprehended, but even more, I have a greater sense of peace as I dwell in a more positive space.

I’m certain this new relationship is going to enhance all of my other relationships as well. We shouldn’t feel guilty about being kind to and loving ourselves. Loving ourselves gives us the power to love others more purely and charitably, because we are filled with light and happiness at our core. 

Beginning to look within is something that each of us can and should do. How can you improve your relationship with yourself? What’s one thing you could change today? My challenge is to start small, but to at least start…don’t delay the abundance of fulfillment awaiting you. 

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