Do You Have A Broken Relationship With Yourself?Aug 21, 2023
The most important relationship you have is the relationship you have with yourself. What kind of relationship do you have? Is it a healthy one?
When I was first asked about my relationship with myself, I was clueless. I did not even realize such a relationship existed. If something was not recognized or acknowledged, it was not likely to be something good in your realm.
As a physician, it is vital to have a healthy relationship with yourself, otherwise, you will be stressed, miserable and miss out on what wonderful things life has to offer; not to mention that the ultimate patient care experience will be compromised and less fulfilling.
Looking back at where I was, my relationship with myself was quite broken. I did not talk to myself nicely. In fact, it was down right mean. I would and will not ever talk to someone else I remotely care about like this. There was this inner voice constantly telling myself I was not good enough, or another person did a far better job than I did really affected my self-esteem and self-worth tremendously. I did not know that I was constantly sabotaging the relationship with myself. How did I tolerate me?
Another sign that I had a poor relationship with myself was lack of self-care. I did not even know what self-care meant. Being a physician, in a way, did not help the situation. I was focusing on helping others, to the extent that I told myself that I did not have to worry or care for myself. I believed I could just keep going. I believed I could just keep giving – my physical energy, mental capacity and my emotional well-being. That was a big and bold assumption that my body would take care of itself in all those aspects. It is not surprising to me now why I was burned out. Lacking good quality and quantity of sleep, ignoring my body when it was telling me to take a break, believing that I could function like a robot without any downtime – that ignorance of self-care and the importance of self-care had a negative impact in my life in and out of medicine.
A broken relationship with myself also meant that I was pushing myself in different ways. Stretching myself to the limit when I made believe there was no limit. I was not setting clear and concrete boundaries for myself. Working long hours without taking breaks. Saying yes to doing more when I was beyond exhausted. One of the biggest things was that I believed I had to be available at all times when it was related to work. I would respond to phone calls or text messages even though I was not on call or working. I did not do it willingly and yet I did not know any alternatives.
To heal a broken relationship, you first have to realize there is such a relationship and that it is dysfunctional. Pay attention what kind of relationship you have with yourself. How do you talk to yourself? Are you speaking with kind words in an encouraging way, or are you talking down to yourself? When you think about yourself in general, what emotion does it generate?
Reconnect with yourself by practicing self-awareness. Besides paying attention to how you talk to yourself, also increase your mindfulness. Your thoughts in a particular moment, your emotions, your physical sensations are all components to add to the full experience of being in the present. Simply feel. It does not have to be any particular sensation or emotion.
Accept who you are. You are where you are supposed to be. Your experiences shape who you are, and nothing has gone wrong. You learn from the past, live in the present and shape your future. Stop dwelling in the “I should have” or “I could have” mode of living.
Take care of yourself. You cannot give what you do not have physically or emotionally. Listen to your body. Take a break and recharge whenever you need to.
Set clear boundaries and adhere to them. This is one of the best ways to be nice to yourself. Be nice yet firm. You do your best within your limits and what is in alignment with your values.
Be kind to yourself. That includes taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Have self-compassion. Imagine you are talking to a little girl whom you care about a lot. What sentences would you say? What kind of tone would you use to talk to her? What emotions do you have when you talk to her?
Practice gratitude. It is natural to take things for granted. Be grateful for you. Be grateful for things happening for you.
The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. If it is broken, do not panic and do not be in despair. Relationships can be healed, nurtured and grow in a loving way. You are in control of the relationship with yourself. Your relationship with yourself will also shape your relationship with other people.
Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?