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Why Is It Okay To Love Yourself First, And Your Partner Second

Why Is It Okay To Love Yourself First, And Your Partner Second

We all have our inner voices that are our daily companions. We all carry on an internal dialogue that constantly evaluates and analyzes our and other’s actions. And it is that inner voice that is an indicator of how we see ourselves and treat ourselves.

How My Inner Voice Affected My Life

For the longest time, my inner voice was an ugly bully that followed me everywhere. As a teen and young adult, I remember that I was living in the constant state of general anxiety. Even though I had people around me who loved me, I continued to feel unsafe and overwhelmed. And it was my inner bully that created these feelings in my life.

The bully would tell me things like “You are not good enough! You are not pretty enough! You shouldn’t be feeling this way or that way! Even though people tell you that they care about you, they don’t mean it. They are going to hurt you and leave you cause you are not good enough!”

Sounds horrible, right? I have to admit that I wasn’t even aware I had such an ugly companion for an inner voice. These thoughts would float into my mind automatically and leave me feeling miserable and exhausted.

Because of the inner bully, I couldn’t trust myself, and I felt anxious about making decisions. And I also couldn’t trust others, especially a person I was involved in a romantic relationship. I constantly doubted his interest in me, felt jealous and sought constant reassurance to ease my anxiety.

While his supportive words would help for a bit, they were never enough to quite my inner critic. Looking back, I can now see that there were three entities in my intimate relationship: my boyfriend, the bully and me.

It was a rotten triangle that caused much heartache. I became over-reliant on my boyfriend for his reassurance in many aspects of my life. And it felt my happiness utterly hanged on what he would say. This created an unhealthy relationship dynamic between us and placed an enormous burden on his shoulders.

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It is effortless to see the big picture from where I sit now, some 15 years older and with much life experience. But back then, I couldn’t tell you why I felt so insecure and miserable. As a result, I experienced this pattern and its full adverse effect in other relationships.

How Having a Healthy Relationship With Myself Has Changed My Life

Things began to change for me as I started to recognize the inner-bully voice, question it and foster a supportive voice instead. It was not an overnight success, but it worked!

As I began to talk to myself in an understanding and motivating way, I saw powerful changes. I was able to make decisions without panic. I could pay myself a compliment and see my strengths. I could be fully present with others and enjoy their company.

To summarize, I became a good friend to myself! It is from this place of friendship with myself that I was able to foster a secure relationship in my life with a significant other. In this new pattern, I didn’t feel overly dependent or too vulnerable; instead, I felt secure and safe.

As I underwent this makeover of my relationship with myself and helped others to do the same, I identified a few crucial steps necessary for success.

1. Become aware of your inner critic

It is time to find out what your inner voice sounds like and what it says to you on a daily basis. Without this awareness, we won’t be able to change your foe inner voice into a friend.

Does it inspire you or bring you down? Does it scare you or makes you feel confident? Does it tell you that you are worthy or does it tell you are looser?

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To help you build this awareness, I recommend checking out this Thinking Traps handout. These are common unrealistic ways of thinking that we all get caught up that leave us feeling inadequate. Find out which ones are a trap for you.

2. Challenge your inner critic and never let it beat you up

As you become more familiar about the nagging and bullying that your inner critic does, you can start to question it.

Just like a majority of people, I never questioned my inner critic and felt like it was right the entire time. But as I began to query, I realized that there was no evidence for any of the bully statements. The only evidence that supported it was my own belief. I chose to believe it blindly.

Luckily, I began to deconstruct this belief with some clever questions that my inner critic had no valid response.

Here are a few examples of questions that I used on my inner bully:

a. What is the evidence that supports this thought? And what is the evidence that doesn’t support it?

b. Is this a thought or a fact?

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c. Is my belief in this thought based on my feeling?

d. What would I say to a friend if he or she had this thought?

3. Recognize a feeling for what it is just a feeling

Mixing up a thought and a feeling is a great source of confusion for many of us. A feeling is usually something that we can describe with one word like anxious, uncomfortable, happy or sad. In contrast, a thought is usually our evaluation of an experience and is one or a few sentences long.

Your inner critic uses this confusion against you. As soon as you feel uncomfortable or anxious, the bully comes out and starts telling you that something is wrong with you. Where is, in reality, there isn’t anything wrong. It is ok to experience unpleasant feelings at times, and that doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong or that you are a bad person.

So one of your greatest defenses against your inner critic is to catch and highlight this for yourself.

You can raise your awareness by saying something like this “X has happened and now I feel anxious or sad. It is ok to experience this feeling, and it will pass. Just because I feel this way, doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me or my actions”.

I invite you to create your personalized mantra based on this sentence that you can use to uncouple your feeling from your negative interpretation of it.

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4. You need to build the relationship, it won’t happen instantly

It takes some time to put these critical elements to practice. You have probably been hearing your inner bully for over 10 or 20 years. The inner critic has had a lot of practice. So it will take some excersice for you to foster a supportive and empathetic inner voice.

As you follow these steps to complete a makeover for your relationship with yourself, you can also begin to enjoy numerous benefits in your intimate relationships.

You will foster these relationships now not our of need or anxiety, but out of desire and confidence.

Instead of being destructed by analyzing how you or others feel about you, you will begin to enjoy your moments with your significant other.

And instead of being plagued by doubt and jealousy, you will able to experience trust and safety in your relationship.

Please remember, that in the real authentic intimacy there is no room for bullies and harsh critics. It is time to become a true friend to yourself, so you can also be a friend to your partner.

More by this author

Viktoria Ivanova

Psychotherapist, Coach & Wisdom Seeker

An image displays a couple holding each other's fingers Why Is It Okay To Love Yourself First, And Your Partner Second

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Published on November 20, 2019

14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

Personal goal setting starts with having a destination in mind.

If you don’t know where you’re going, why bother moving forward? You’ll just get more lost or find yourself back where you started again.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will take you there.”- Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland

You have to have a destination of who you want to become in order to get there.

Personal goals will be easier to make if you know where you want to go.

You must start with how to get there and break down the steps. These steps must be realistic.

That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big; in fact,

“Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars.”

Dream big no matter what but be realistic at the same time. Be open to detours, too.

According to Action for Happiness[1], ways to make goals include deciding on goals, writing steps down, telling someone about it and plan out each step.

Here I will outline 14 personal goals that can help you become a better you:

1. Live Authentically

You don’t have time to be living your life as someone else. All you can do is be yourself. You must choose to be who you really are. That’s the best way to live.

Being yourself is not easy though. It requires dedication to your values and dreams. You won’t be able to be authentic without losing your fear of what others think of you.

There’s only one way to be successful in this life and it’s if you do it for the right reasons. It’s if you choose yourself. It’s not until you find that you will be free.

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Get inspired by my other article: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

2. Take Time for You in Self-Care Prioritization

Self-care is not something you should take for granted. Often, we don’t prioritize it well enough. Some examples include finding time for yourself, do things that make you feel good. Get dietary advice to eat healthy and exercise to improve your health.

Take a break. Go outside. Relax. Read a book or watch a good movie with someone you love. It’s about rewarding yourself with your joys and hobbies.

You can find more examples here: 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

Self-care is not selfish. It’s important to find time for yourself so that you CAN give more of yourself to the areas of life you need to. You deserve it. You are worth it. Remember that.

3. Don’t Take Things Personally

The less you are concerned with others, the more you can focus on doing what matters most to you. What others say does not reflect the real you. It is just their perception, which may not be the full picture or the truth.

People who try to hurt you are not happy.

“Happy people don’t try to bring other people down.” – Anonymous.

That’s why it’s just not worth holding on to their words.

When you refuse to take things personally, it’s because you know who you are.

4: Decide What You Stand for

4. Decide to Be Who You Are Meant to Be

Look for things you are passionate about. Advocate to make yourself and others heard. Join groups that support your beliefs.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”- Anonymous.

So, decide what you value and what you stand for. Then, you can do anything.

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Take a look at this guide if you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

5. Find the Silver Lining

Find happiness in any situation by finding the silver lining. You can decide to be happy because of the good you find. You must choose to look at the good.

People often think about the bad first, and they dwell on it. It’s human nature, but if you can look for the good or the silver lining, you will be happier for it.

You can learn from any situation or use any situation to better yourself or humanity. Take that and you will overcome it all.

6. Do Something Good for Someone

Instead of just focusing on your problems, do good for someone. It will not only take your mind off what problems you have, but also help you see that you are capable of doing good — right, you still have things to offer.

There are many opportunities to do good. Volunteering, checking on a friend or family member, get involved in a project that serves your community, etc.

The more good you do, the better you will feel.

7. Practice Daily Positive Self Talk

Every day is a new day. The way you talk to yourself is how you can ensure you build resilience and endurance through any challenge.

Here are some positive self talk examples:

“Things may have not gone my way but I can see the good in the situation still.”

“At least I am alive. I have my health, my abilities and the opportunities to use what I have for good.”

“I am worthwhile.”

“I can do it.”

Even more here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

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The more you practice positive self talk, the more you will overcome and accomplish.

8. Surrender, When Necessary

When you surrender, you give in to the current rather than fight against it. It means you value inner peace most of all. You don’t sacrifice your inner peace for anything. You know your worth, and you are willing to see how a situation unfolds. You don’t try to force solutions either.

Instead of forcing solutions, you allow the best ones to come forth. You also know how to use what you have. You don’t fight against your situation. You instead use it.

When you surrender, you are accepting what is. This makes it easier to move forward.

9. Ask for Help in One Area of Your Life

We are often taught that needing help is a sign of weakness but it is actually a sign of strength. It’s developing skills that you might not be as well versed in. It’s developing mentor/mentee relationships to help you succeed.

Success is subjective to every individual. When you are developing yourself, you need others’ input. You need help to be who you are meant to be.

There is no shame in asking for help. Asking for help instead opens doors for you that you may not have been able to open yourself.

10. Never Stop Learning

Learning is meant to be lifelong. You can follow your interests, and everything is a “Internet Search Engine” away. But how to really commit to this? Take another class, sign up for a workshop, read books on the subject of interest, develop new hobbies…

In Success Magazine,[2] Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich suggests 3 techniques to never stop learning:

“1. Embrace the Mind of a Child.
2. Put yourself in the hands of a trusted teacher.
3. Read, read, read.” Overall, be responsible for your own growth in life.

You are never too old to learn something new. Start today.

11. Set Boundaries and Say No When Appropriate

Having boundaries can feel uncomfortable because we are telling others what we do not accept. It is also necessary for healthy relationships. You will use them to protect yourself, your heart and your mind.

No one can make you do anything. If you are uncomfortable with something, you have a right to say no. Those who truly care about you will not be offended. You are also setting the bar high, or setting an example for others who are too scared to have boundaries too.

You will make better choices if you have better boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

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12. Follow Your Gut

Trust your instincts. They are trying to tell you what to trust in.

You may not want to do something but feel pressured to do it. Your gut is the one speaking to you, telling you not to do it if you don’t want to. It can save you from many things, for example preventing you from making poor choices.

When you follow your gut, you preserve your interests and secure yourself.

13. Do What You Love

Are you doing what you love? You must choose what you can’t live without. Don’t sacrifice that for anything. Life is too short.

Your best also comes out when you are doing what you love. You can give more, do more if you’re happy with what you are doing.

So, do what you love. Don’t question it: Why You Should Always Do What You Love (And How to Do It)

14. Appreciate What You Have

Good Deeds Day defines gratitude as,[3]

“Gratitude allows us to recognize good in our lives. Focusing and appreciating the good in our lives constantly reminds us about the great things all around us… Gratitude allows us to see that the sources of that good are usually close by. Practicing gratitude allows us to recognize those who bring goodness into our lives and humbles us in order to give credit to those we are grateful for.”

At the end of the day, you need to recognize what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. You must choose gratitude as your attitude in order to live a happier, better life. You will win then.

Counting your blessings everyday will help you bring in more blessings. You are limitless. You will overcome more too if you have that positive perspective.

Appreciating what you have starts with the simple things in life. Recognize what’s working. Find your reason to hold on. And then change the world.

Here’re 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For if you need some reminders.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting is about finding what will better yourself and lead you to happiness. You will find peace with yourself when you are on the right path.

You have to make the decision to make the best of everything, and you have to remember what really matters. Your goals will shape you for the rest of your life.

Good luck!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

Reference

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