The most important relationship you will ever have will be the one you build and nurture with yourself. Loving each part of yourself is an ongoing process, though it has the potential to be greatly rewarding. When we love and accept each part of ourselves, we can reflect and improve while staying on a balanced path of self-compassion and kindness.
The path to understanding relationships begins with acknowledging that we are complex, multi-layered beings. Carl Rogers, an American psychologist who developed the Personality Theory, the idea of self-concept is the “personal knowledge of who we are, encompassing all of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves physically, personally, and socially.”
This knowledge enables us to recognize how we behave in certain situations, our capabilities, limitations, and characteristics, all of which start developing in childhood. As we grow, our self-concept changes. Rogers explains the three components of the self: self-image, self-esteem, and the ideal self.
- Self-image (how individuals see themselves) One’s ideas about self-image can be positive or negative and impact what they experience and how they act.
- Self-worth (the value individuals place on themselves) Rogers felt self-worth was forged in childhood through individuals’ interactions with their parents.
- Ideal self (the person an individual wants to be) The ideal self changes as we grow and our priorities change.
By nature, we are complex and complicated. Each of these parts of ourselves makes up our whole selves and who we are as unique human beings. Like relationships with others, our relationships with the different parts of ourselves contain various elements that demand our attention.
According to Psych Central, a healthy relationship includes making room for your insecurities and imperfections. It includes working towards loving and honoring each part of yourself that leads to a “sense of wholeness and the feeling that you’re free to be your true self.” Establishing self-acceptance leads to a foundation for personal transformation and growth.
Having a positive relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything else, according to Psychology Today. It is essential to develop yourself as a whole person properly. Early in development, we learn how to relate to ourselves from key figures in our lives, including parents, siblings, family, friends, peers, and other adults. These relationships then shape our relationship with ourselves.
Psychology Today explains that as we grow up and become adults, how we are treated by others and observing how others treat themselves are essential factors that influence how we address ourselves as adults. This can lead to having a negative relationship with yourself, shaking the foundation for a healthy, positive self-image. It can manifest in negative feelings about oneself, such as not being good enough, being a failure, a lack of self-esteem, and an overall lack of self-confidence.
However, it is possible to change your relationship with yourself. Rogers explains the self-concept as being “active, dynamic, and malleable,” meaning you can learn to love yourself and begin to form a new foundation on which you can build a positive self-relationship. While this takes self-awareness and diligent work, it can lead to an increase in overall well-being.
Having a healthy relationship with every part of yourself starts with self-love and compassion. But, like any relationship, a healthy one is an ongoing process. Dr. Kirstin Neff describes self-compassion as having the same compassion and care for yourself as you would for others.
The next time you have a difficult time, fail at something or discover a trait you do not like about yourself, stop, acknowledge that you are experiencing something difficult, and give yourself permission to be upset. Then, you can focus on providing comfort and care rather than ignoring your suffering and denying yourself self-compassion.
According to Dr. Neff, caring about yourself is the first step toward becoming healthier and happier. You deserve the same love and understanding you provide to those you care about most. It is essential to end the judgment and criticisms you tell yourself and focus on being kind and understanding when you recognize things you don’t like about yourself.
Humans are not meant to be perfect. You will make mistakes, fail, and sometimes disappoint yourself. This is part of being human. The more you accept this and feel compassion for every part of yourself, the happier and healthier your life will be.
To better understand the different parts of yourself and your relationship with each part, reach out today. Together we can work to better understand who you are and collaborate on the next steps to helping you build a healthier and happier relationship with yourself.