During the difficult moments in your life, you might find yourself desperate for the love and approval of others. You might find yourself looking for praise, support, and attention externally — relying on others (family, friends, partners, etc.) to make you feel better about yourself and your circumstances. Whether you are single or in a relationship, problems are likely to occur if you look elsewhere for love and encouragement instead of finding comfort and strength within.
To achieve optimal wellness and happiness, regardless of your relationship status, it is essential to cultivate self-love and a positive relationship with yourself. A common misconception that might be hindering your ability is the idea that we are not whole unless we have a partner or significant other. The truth is that you are born whole. As you get older and look to form a relationship with a partner, you might feel as though life is incomplete without another individual to share your life with, however, YOU are not incomplete.
Understanding the difference between wanting a partner during your life’s journey and needing a partner to enjoy life with is important. Without this awareness, it is common to “wait” to be happy until you form an intimate relationship with a partner and then solely rely on this person to meet your every need and keep you happy, putting tremendous pressure on the relationship.
When your partner naturally fails to bring you happiness all of the time (as no one is perfect, everyone has their own needs, and your partner is responsible for themselves and not you), you might conclude that your partner does not really love you, become clingy or withdrawn and experience tension and disconnect. Again, when you give others the power to dictate how you feel about yourself, they can lift you up as easily as they can tear you down and your happiness can be taken away as easily as it is given. This dynamic does not leave you in a healthy and empowered place.
The bottom line is: You create and are accountable for your own happiness and therefore should not put your happiness in the hands of anyone but yourself. If you wait to feel happy, loved and valued by someone else, you are giving your authentic power away.
The good news is that love is always available to you if you look within. Once you access self-love and let it grow, you will be better able to love others and let others love you, leading to even more satisfying relationships.
Three simple practices to create self-love and bring health and happiness into your life and relationships:
1. When you find yourself craving approval, attention, encouragement or praise from others, instead look within. Ask yourself what you hope someone would say to you and then say it to yourself. For example, if you are looking elsewhere for someone to congratulate you for a job well done, congratulate yourself. If you have been exercising and eating right to achieve a healthier weight, tell yourself how proud you are of your hard efforts and how great you look.
2. Start each day with deep breathing and a conscious intention to treat yourself and others non-judgmentally and kindly. Try an affirmation, such as, “I am lovable,” “I love myself and treat myself with respect,” or “Today, I will focus on loving myself and others.” When you notice yourself reverting back to old patterns, recite your affirmation to create new grooves in your brain and healthier habits.
3. Do something you love daily. It is easy to believe that you have no time or are too busy to do something fun each day, but if you make time, time will be on your side. Commit to at least 20-minutes of something you love — anything from cooking, gardening, yoga, dance, a bubble bath, a favorite tv show or sports game, music, meditation, or exercise.
You hold the power to live a happy life, filled with love. I urge you to be mindful of what you do with it!
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!