A healthy relationship with ourselves is an honest one. It is built on telling ourselves the truth. Not the truth masked in mean, I’m-an-idiot, What’s-wrong-with-me, My-thighs-are-huge thoughts. A truth that is built on understanding what we genuinely need, want and value, and taking action around that. A truth that says, I’m not OK. I need to see a therapist. A truth that says, I’m exhausted. I need rest, and I can have it. A truth that says, That glass of wine every night is too much. What I need is not at the bottom of this bottle. 

A healthy relationship is built on compassion. It is built on I’m so sorry you’re struggling. I know this is really hard for you. Which is in stark contrast to: You’re so sensitive! Why can’t you get it together? This really isn’t a big deal. It isn’t a big deal for anyone else. 

A healthy relationship is built on compassionate curiosity, sincere inquiry. Why am I so upset today? Why did I make that mistake? How can I learn from that experience? How do I work best? What do I prefer? What works for me? How would I like to feed myself? Because if we don’t know ourselves, if we don’t know our intentions, our needs, our desires, our whys, how can we make decisions? How can we set solid boundaries and create fulfilling lives?

A healthy relationship is built on connecting to our bodies. On taking the time to hear them. On sharpening our listening skills.

A healthy relationship is built on having our backs unconditionally. We do not need to earn our own respect or care or love.

A healthy relationship is built on forgiving ourselves. We will make mistakes. We will mess up. We can take responsibility for our wrong-doing, and we can be understanding and kind. Maybe we were doing the best we could. Maybe we weren’t. Either way, we can explore the situation, and reflect on what happened. We can channel this insight into something positive. And we can tell ourselves, It’s OK. 

A healthy relationship is built on an ongoing acceptance of our shortcomings and our scars. Because to be human is to be imperfect and intricate and complex.

A healthy relationship is built on joy and pleasure and play—whatever this looks like to you. Walking. Laughing. Coloring. Photography. TV marathons. Museum dates. Yoga. Chocolate. Aromatherapy. Hula-hooping.

A healthy relationship is built on surrounding ourselves with supportive, trustworthy, compassionate people who have our best interests at heart—and distancing ourselves from those who don’t.

Our relationship with ourselves is ongoing. It changes and pivots and shifts. Naturally, there are ups and downs. Beautiful days, and really, really hard days. But the key is that we continue returning to ourselves. We continue to be curious. We continue to listen. We continue to be kind. And we continue to forgive ourselves when none of these things feels possible.

What does a healthy relationship with yourself mean to you?

Photo by Brooke Lark.