Healthy relationships have a positive impact upon our physical and mental health. People who have positive relationships tend to live longer and have fewer health issues. They are less depressed, anxious, and are more satisfied and content with life. One of the most important relationships yet most overlooked and devalued is the relationship we have with ourselves.Improving our relationship with ourselves will benefit everyone around us.

Perhaps we have heard the phrase, “Me, me, me, its all about you isn’t?” The Urban dictionary defines “Me Me Me Me Me”as someone who is selfish and incapable of taking anyone else’s feelings into consideration because they are unaware that other people have feelings.  It may sound selfish when we focus upon ourselves first but sometimes we need to focus on ourselves first.

A helpful way to assess the quality of the relationship we have with ourselves is to observe how we talk to ourselves. Take a moment to examine your automatic thoughts, those that come to you uninvited.

Nearly all our automatic thoughts are self-critical. In the professional coaching world, we label this voice our inner gremlin or our inner drill sergeant. The voice that tells us that we never get it right or we are always lacking something or that we are never quite good enough, or somehow, we always come up short or that we are unlovable or unworthy. In the psychological world we describe it as the inner critic verbalizing irrational thoughts that are judgmental and condemnatory.

Where do these thoughts come from? Typically, they come from unresolved past experiences that get stuck in our memories- some event or encounter that was hurtful in some way.  We may have been harshly criticized or we had some experience that brought shame or we felt embarrassed from something that happened to us or to our family.

There are several ways to address our inner critic, and the following is one way. The first thing is to be aware of the automatic thought, recognize it or catch when it comes. Secondly, check or challenge the thought. Ask if it is true, if it is absolutely true. Try to discover or investigate where the thought originates. Is the thought the product of some past unresolved experience? And lastly, replace or change that automatic thought to one that is more logical and rational.

Sometimes being selfish is one of the most unselfish things we can do.

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Paul Bokker Ph.D., LPC/S, NCC, BCC, NBC-HWC, BC-TMH