Love is Universal. We express love and compassion towards the people we have around us; our dearest loved ones, the community we belong to even the planet we live on. In positive psychology, fostering positive relationships is a key step to well-being. It is important to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, who make you smile and people who love you for who you are.
There is one important relationship we sometimes forget to take time for… The Relationship with Ourselves.
Feeling a sense of belonging, feeling loved and connected is one of the most studied areas in happiness and the positive psychology literature. As humans we are social creatures, it is within us a need to feel wanted and cared for, and it is important to remember there is nothing wrong with that.
Sternberg defines three elements of our closest relationships ‘passion, commitment and intimacy’. Love may not last forever, relationships change over time, but it is something we work on, we work towards and we may even strive to achieve. Considering Sternberg’s ‘Triangular Theory of Love’, we tend to focus on applying these elements to all relationships but one… it is one of the most important and valuable relationships we have every day… The Relationship with Ourselves.
How often do we take time for ourselves?
The importance of taking time for yourself, to treat yourself, to have ‘you’ time is a well advocated self-care route. We may have heard how important it is to work on the relationship you have with yourself, but how and why is this important? How we view ourselves, how we speak to ourselves and how we care for ourselves is the foundation to a happy and healthy life. Indeed, self-love is one of the most critical aspects to our personal development.
From early developmental years, we learn so much from our key figures, parents, family members, our friendships even the people we work with. However, relationships change, people move away, we love and we lose. These relationships have the power to shape how we view ourselves, and sometimes we get into relationships which might not always be best for our well-being. Likewise, our relationship with ourselves needs nurturing, it needs care, it needs acceptance and it needs to be worked on.
Tips on caring for yourself, being there for yourself and realising how important you are to you.
Have you ever considered how you speak to yourself? Do you fill your mind and soul with positivity or do you tell yourself everyday how great you are doing? Or do you look in the mirror and search for all the things ‘wrong’ with you or dwell on your ‘weaknesses’. In positive psychology, we focus on what we are good at, everything that we love about ourselves, our qualities which are unique to us. How can we overcome challenges, adversity or tough days by focusing on everything that’s going wrong? We may get ourselves in deep holes in our head and find it hard to escape the negativity.
Daily self-talk, affirmation and self-care all in a positive manner are a key step forward in accepting yourself for who you are. What would you like to tell yourself today? We call these “daily affirmations’’.
Take a breath, look in the mirror and repeat…. Today I would like to be…
Don’t be afraid to tell yourself how great you are! Don’t be afraid to be your own cheerleader and most importantly don’t be afraid to believe in yourself. Remember happiness is contagious, how we speak to ourselves is often relayed through to our closest relationships. We may feel down in ourselves or frustrated about how things are and sometimes take our pain out on the people closest to us, the people who don’t deserve it. To cultivate positive relationships, to be a positive influencer we need to first fill our mind and soul with positive self-talk.
One of the most important concepts in well-being and happiness literature is to promote kindness towards yourself and others. Appreciate and be grateful for who you are, accept yourself for all your flaws and imperfections and all you have achieved. It is very easy to get side tracked and focus on everything you aren’t, all your flaws and ‘weaknesses’. In positive psychology, encouraging an optimistic outlook is a key ingredient to well-being and focusing on your character strengths i.e., what are your qualities and strengths.
Write down five things you are good at. This could be anything from cooking, to playing sport, to being a kind and caring person to all your friends. Write it down.
Express gratitude to those around you, be thankful for who you have and what they give to you. Focus on the positive emotions they fill you with, a sense of joy and hope. Don’t afraid to write them a little message, or drop by to their house expressing gratitude to them.
Life can be hectic, perhaps we get easily side tracked with the pressures to ‘fit in’, to keep up with friends, to dress or be a certain way. But remember, it is important to be you and accept yourself for who you are. There is only one of you in the world and that will always be the way. We are all made genetically different, why would you want to be like anyone else? Why wouldn’t you take care of yourself? Today and everyday be kind to yourself, this will promote you to feel better in yourself with positive impacts on all the closest relationships around you.
Written By: Jen Ward
Edited: Ali Sparkes
Categories: Love, Relationships, Positive Well-Being
Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8(3), 425-429.
Reis, H. T., & Gable, S. L. (2003). Toward a positive psychology of relationships. In C. L. M. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived (pp. 129-159). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.
Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological review, 93. 119-135