The Art of Nurturing Self-Talk: How To Tell Your Self What You Need to Hear
I was in the process of signing up for a new account on this website and one of the security questions asked me, “What is the name of your best friend?” I know it’s simply asking me for any answer, really, but I remember asking:
“I wonder if I would be best friends with myself.”
When we talk about relationships and relationship advice, we often forget to discuss the most important relationship that this world has to offer — the relationship you have, or sometimes lack, with your Self.
The cliche is true. Many of us don’t quite know how to love. We’re innately designed with love to love one another but it seems that how we love has been lost in translation.
Learning love languages in relationships is not a new concept but the emphasis we place into understanding someone else should pale in comparison to the attention and focus we invest into understanding our own Self.
“To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.” — Ayn Rand
In today’s climate of mental health, many of us dismiss self-talk as insanity. Anything more than a to-do list reminder to ourselves is considered delusional.
But I don’t feel it’s crazy to talk with and listen to the voices of my Self. I have full-blown conversations, arguments, even comedy specials with my Self (maybe I’m a little crazy).
It’s not talking to my Self because I’m incapable of making friends with other people. Rather, I’m engaging with my Self to listen for what my Self feels he needs.
How can I expect someone to understand and cater to my desires if I’m unaware of the innermost workings of my own character?
You’re Responsible for You
Without cultivating proper communication with our Self, you create an unhealthy dynamic of becoming dependent upon someone else’s care and attention. You’re essentially tasking someone else to dedicate their Self to serving yours because you fail to help your Self.
Sound romantic? Only if the other person is willing. Otherwise, you drain the Life out of them by exploiting their naive generosity. I’ve come to define this as neediness — always needing something or someone to care about them, for them.
Having needs aren’t wrong, but at what point will you feel Self-interested enough to fulfill your own duties as an individual soul?
When we understand this, we realize that our relationships — whether professional, social, or romantic — are a reflection of our current level of self-acceptance.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” — Sharon Salzberg
Throughout the majority of my Life, I coupled self-acceptance with self-awareness and I assumed the two were synonymous. I could look into a mirror and notice aspects of the person staring back; overweight, shy, anxious, etc. I figured that since I was able to make objective observations and point the finger at weaknesses, I was self-aware.
And I wouldn’t be wrong, but it wasn’t until a two-day yoga retreat that I learned the difference between self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Look Into Your Eyes
In this particular exercise, the yoga master placed a handheld mirror in front of me and asked me to simply sit with and look at the reflection for two minutes straight. If you haven’t tried this exercise, two minutes of doing nothing but staring at yourself in the mirror feels like two hours.
I remember the experience feeling strangely uncomfortable. But why? This wasn’t the first time seeing my reflection and yet I found it almost impossible to maintain eye contact with my Self.
I was making judgements about the person in the mirror while ignoring the Reality of exactly who that person was. That overweight, shy, anxious person in the mirror was, in fact, me.
As soon as I realized to attribute these less-than-ideal characteristics to myself, I felt uneasy, I felt frustrated.
I felt repulsive. It only took about twenty seconds for me to want to chuck the mirror across the room and shatter all remnants of the grotesque person looking back.
You are Unique
Self-acceptance is not only about recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, but also accepting responsibility for tending to the nuances of our Self.
Yes, we’re all human. But we’re different, which means that we differ in the way we feel, think, and respond to Life. What proves beneficial to another might not yield such positive results for you. This is the beauty of difference — we’re not the same. Because sameness is boring.
In this Life of creation, we’re each responsible for tending to our Self in a way that is specific to our unique character, that proves most beneficial to the ideal version of our Self.
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” — Rupi Kaur
Self-acceptance is a step above self-awareness but I encourage everyone to strive for a step higher: self-love. Instead of feeling obligated to the duties of our Self, choose to love them!
Choose to be so in love with yourself that it makes others curious about where they can find a love as strong, as unconditional for themselves to call their own. This is the key.
Is it wrong to love our Selfs?
When we love someone unconditionally, we redefine obstacles, shortcomings, and hardships from frustrating conflicts to Life lessons that strengthen a relationship. This transient pain helps us to grow into the person we choose to become, much like how heat and pressure can turn charcoal into diamond.
Before turning to others for this unfailing support, let’s ask ourselves: Do we spend enough tender, loving care with our Self?
Me, Myself, and I
All of the passion and sense of duty we feel in our external relationships — intimacy, curiosity, commitment — your Self craves from you.
You are your own Life partner, your soulmate, your significant other, your best friend.
The Love you’re searching for out there, you’re looking in the wrong place — it’s been waiting for you within.
Love your Self.