The idea of having a relationship with yourself is not woo-woo.
It’s not a spiritual endeavor.
It’s not about channeling your inner child or uncovering the depths of your soul.
It’s deeply useful.
And it’s necessary.
Think about any important relationship in your life.
You probably carefully consider how you speak to the other person, how you behave toward them, and how you make + follow through on commitments to them. You probably consider how you want to show up + be there for them. You might even think about how willing you are to disappoint them or have them be mad at you if it means telling the truth, teaching something valuable, or challenging them to grow.
We think about building, maintaining + deepening our relationships with other people.
I’d like to offer that we should spend an equal amount of time thinking about our relationship to us.
We exist simultaneously in three places in time — we have a past self, a present self, and a future self.
Each of these parts of us has a unique skillset, and our relationship between the three is what forms our sense of self + what we think we’re capable of achieving.
Consider yourself here + now. In the present moment.
Your past self had a vision (or multiple visions) for everything you want. She knew that you really wanted to commit to a schedule or an exercise plan. Maybe she made plans + and set you up for success in the present moment. She thought about long-term dreams, goals + desires, and with those in mind, she made decisions about how you would spend your time or what you would eat, or how much you would spend. She did this so you wouldn’t have to make decisions in the moment, when the pull of distraction + instant gratification is everywhere.
In the present, you have the opportunity to honor that past version of yourself. She identified what you truly want, and gave you what you need to get it. Your present self’s job is to follow her plan. And since she set you up for success, in the present, you also have the opportunity to pay it forward and do the same for the version of you that will exist tomorrow. Right now, you have the opportunity to make your future self’s life both easier + bigger.
Your future self has already done everything you want to do, achieved every goal. She is wise + capable. But more important than that, she knows what you can do. Because she’s already done it. Your present self has such a resource in this future version of you. When you ask how, or what next, she always knows the answer. Try it. Think about something you want that you’re not quite sure how to make happen. Now go to the future in which you’ve already achieved or gotten it and ask your future self how you did it. She always has an answer.
Our relationship to ourselves is, in large part, determined by the relationship between these time periods. And while that’s conceptual — you’re not literally sitting down to coffee with your past self — I encourage you to think about how true it is, and how helpful it is to think this way.
Your self-concept right now is based on what you’ve already done. And the more you you stretch your current capabilities in the present, the more you will believe in those capabilities in the future.
If you did a great job planning, and then follow through on that plan, it’s really very easy to think exceptional things about yourself, right?
Think about this.
If you’re like me, you sometimes think things like, “this one little decision won’t matter” or “I can just do it tomorrow.”
These sneaky, innocent-seeming thoughts, if not caught and managed, completely disrespect our past self and cause us to make our future self’s life more difficult.
To cultivate an amazing relationship with yourself, start by answering the questions below. Actually write or type them out, it will be a much more powerful exercise if you do.
Think about yourself as a team, a collaboration between these three versions of you. Everyone makes a unique contribution based on a unique skill set.
- What is your past self responsible for? What’s her job description?
- What about your present self?
- Your future self?
- How do you want to speak to and about these three versions of you?
- What would life look like if you committed to making decisions in the service of your goals + dreams?
- How do you want to talk to yourself about failing or encountering setbacks?
Some of my answers to these questions have changed my life profoundly.
This is your first and most important relationship. Honor it. I promise you’ll be rewarded. And the best part is that you will be both the giver and receiver of the reward. Beautiful.
I sometimes call this relationship cultivation living within integrity with yourself. Being honest about what you want, standing for yourself and your goals, and choosing to love yourself all the way through the fun, the challenges, the failures, and the discomfort along the way. So often we know what we want but don’t go for it because we’re afraid, or confused, or think we don’t know how. Or, we go for it but beat ourselves up so much along the way that we find no joy in the journey. Choosing to do exactly what we know we want and learn how to believe in ourselves fiercely through everything along that path? That, my friends, is a well-lived life. Are you ready? Schedule a consultation.