The most important relationship we have is with ourselves.
While there is no final security with any other person – even the most loving partner one day will die and leave us – what we can be certain of is that we will have ourselves around for as long as we live. Therefore, the quality of our life, our happiness and contentment, depends mainly on the nature of the relationship we have with ourselves.
Idries Khan once described the world as a crystal palace, where whatever is around us reflects back ourselves. If the relationship we have with others are reflections of the relationship we have with ourselves, then we are challenged to face ourselves in a confronting mirror.
Let’s say, somebody else frequently doubts your love. Ask yourself, “do I doubt my love?” Or, you experience not being listened to, “do I really listen to myself?”
When two people fight, there are usually two frighten or hurt kids underneath that may use grown-up words. Both view the other as doing something to them. Both feel weak and become defensive, focus on the other. “If only you could be more this or that, …” Both want the other to change and make it better for oneself.
In our observation as counsellors/therapists, we notice that we all carry an “inner child” with us that has memories of our past, carries old messages that influenced us, displays familiar habits and patterns. This exists often unacknowledged underneath the “grown-up” who can parent, hold a job, have a career, get on with life. Now and then, the “inner child” breaks through, particularly in stressful times and can end up running the show. We may be highly sensitive and reactive, grumpy, confused and anxious, unable to soothe ourselves or to co-operate. What happens underneath is that we get irritated or angry with our “inner child”, put it down. We don’t want to know it, and subsequently treat it in similar traumatising ways that it had been treated in the past.
When you feel at times angry with yourself, self-loathing or -rejecting, there is definitely room for improvement of your relationship with yourself. Your “inner child” wants to be accepted and loved, no matter what. It wants to be listened to and share its pain fully. Under its irritating behaviour is most likely unresolved grief. When your “inner child” feels loved, it can relax and return to its true qualities – playfulness, spontaneity, openness, curiosity, and trust.
As we become more willing to relate to all of ourselves, we become more loving of ourselves, which means that our “inner child” and our “grown-up” develop a better relationship with each other. We also become more tolerant when we meet the “inner child” of our partner or other significant people in our life. We can actually support each other in embracing all aspects of ourselves more fully. When you love my “inner child”, it makes it easier for me to befriend it too.
One way to build a loving relationship with yourself is by sitting with yourself in silence, quietly breathing, letting thoughts come and go, allowing yourself to feel any emotion that comes up, without wallowing, interpreting, analyzing, or building a story around it. That in itself is quite a task. We tend to fear our fear, resent our anger, judge our insecurity and avoid our sadness. Feeling our emotions is an important first step. Releasing all the stories that are attached to them, may require professional support.
A good relationship with ourselves is the source of personal power. How about you look at yourself in the mirror, look into your eyes and say sincerely, “I love you” or at least, “I am your friend”!
Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch
Copyright © 2/2001 by Rumijabu | Originally published in Southshore Beacon #125, February 2001