Did you know that the relationship we have with ourselves is a tangible, energetic body? What we put into and feed that relationship will either grow or diminish it. In our modern western society we often treat our relationships with others as means to ends, without actually relating in meaningful, authentic ways. The relationship we have with ourselves is often worse, if not altogether non-existent.

Recently on my earthly journey, I was able to get in touch with myself for the first time since as long as I can remember. Although it’s been a lifelong process, it really kicked into high gear once I stepped outside my comfort zone and allowed myself to explore what truly makes me happy. I asked myself the question: what brings me joy? I explored multiple avenues from figure drawing class to acting class. I got myself out into the world and tried new things. This process of self-discovery led me to a retreat where meditation and a clean diet were used to facilitate deeper exploration of self. Eating in such a clean way cleared my body for deeper healing to take place. I felt that my body (as a vessel) was clearer, like a fine-tuned instrument. With my body clearer I felt closer to myself, and closer to Source (energy).

The meditations were silent, so I had a lot of time to process my thoughts. Sitting there, I was deep in analysis, trying to figure out what everyone else was thinking. After days of this I realized that I don’t often turn my attention inward - so I did. The weird thing was that I had a hard time seeing ‘myself’. Who was I? Why can I feel others’ presence, but not my own? I tried my damnedest to focus on myself, but all I saw was a physical body. The inside was empty.

A few days into the retreat there was a particular moment where I realized that I had been annoyed with the fact that my hair had been falling into my face. I was constantly tucking it behind my ears. This was a common occurrence, given I had long hair. I began laughing and said to myself, “Why do I have long hair?” I remembered that little girl version of me who always wanted short hair. “As short as possible!”, I used to tell the hairdresser. My long straight hair was the manifestation of my desire to fit in to what society deems perfect. It was at that moment, laughing with myself, that I began to feel my own essence - my spirit. I started to remember who I was. This was a crucial moment as it led me into deeper thoughts. I saw how I had been abusing my body by not listening to it, just like I hadn’t listened to myself and my desires. I saw how I had decided a long time ago that I wasn’t good enough, and so ended the relationship with myself. This sudden realization quickly turned into sadness. I saw my body and spirit as a living entities in need of love and gentle care. In that moment I was able to really connect with my body in a way that I knew it was receiving my love and attention. This whole time my body had been standing by ready to heal (in all its awesome intelligence) - if only I’d give it the space. My spirit has had my back this entire time too, offering unconditional friendship and love - if only I’d accept it. For the first time I saw my body and spirit as living entities with inherent worth. I rediscovered the love that I had lost for myself. My entire life search for that elusive something was actually the love I had lost for myself. I began a relationship with myself.

Getting back in touch with myself and beginning to nurture the relationship I lost so long ago was well overdue. By loving and entering into a relationship with myself I will no longer abuse myself, nor will I allow others to abuse me. Since taking this path my life has transformed, and although this path is never-ending, I’m now on the right track.

Here are the top 5 ways that my life has transformed, and why we should consider getting back into a relationship with ourselves:

1. We can take care of ourselves better than anyone else can

We all possess a deep wisdom and intuition - it’s an inner knowing that connects our  higher self to our physical body, our heart, and our minds. The only person who has this sort of access is ourselves. This connection has an ability to heal and nurture far beyond what anyone else can do. This inner wisdom isn’t learned - it’s inherent to all beings. There isn’t a naturopath, doctor, healer, or other person who has access to our own wise intuition, and therefore no one possesses the knowledge  and wisdom capable of great healing quite like we do. Healers are necessary and wonderful guides that can lead us to this path, but once on the path, it’s all up to us. When I got back in touch with myself I felt like my long-lost mother started to nurture me. She gave me a hot cup of herbal tea and told me to slow down while I drink, to let every droplet permeate my throat and nourish my body. I swallowed tea like I never had before - instead of getting it down fast, it rippled up into crevices of my throat that I didn’t know existed. She also told me to put on socks. My feet were ice-cold yet I had them bare. Who knew the best motherly love could come from ourselves?

2. The relationship with ourselves is so intimate that it's capable of telepathy

What’s better than being able to talk to ourselves in our head? It doesn’t get more personal. We’re able to laugh with ourselves, at ourselves, at someone else - all within the private territory of our own minds. Once we develop positive and loving self-talk we can become our very own best friend. We can root for ourselves, give gentle loving advice, and generally be a good friend to ourselves. Being able to do all this without peeping a word is effortless, and beautiful. It’s telepathy. Thinking about this conjures up a memory of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Remember when Dick, the cook at the Overlook Hotel, telepathically communicates with Danny and teaches him about “The Shining”? He explains to Danny that the ability to “shine” is a gift that includes telepathy and clairvoyance.

3. The health of your relationship to others is a direct reflection of the relationship you have with yourself

How we treat our friends, family, and strangers is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. If we call someone an idiot (even to ourselves), chances are that our self-talk includes the same vocabulary. There’s a good chance that a part of us thinks we’re idiots if we’re able to call someone else an idiot. We wouldn’t be able to see in others what we don’t already see in ourselves. If we have compassion for ourselves, however, we’ll have compassion for others. We wouldn’t be so quick to throw around name-calling if we weren’t quick to call ourselves the same. The harder we are on ourselves, the harder we are on others. The more love and compassion we can practice with ourselves, the more love and compassion we can show others. The way we view ourselves is the way we view the world. If we see ourselves as someone who is dishonest, then we’ll see dishonesty in others. If we think we’re inherently bad because of this dishonesty, we’ll see the “badness” in others, too. It’s not hard to see that how we treat and view ourselves extends to how we treat and view others. If we heal our relationship with ourselves, we will see our relationships with others improve.

4. Being alone has never been sweeter

Once we’re in a healthy relationship with ourselves, solo time has never been sweeter. Suddenly, the smallest thing like reading a book has become an activity that is no longer in solitude. We’re no longer reading a book alone, we’re reading a book with ourselves. We will no longer crave having to be in constant contact with others, as we are in our own company. Loneliness won’t come up as much, as we have our own attention. Your ability to spend quality time with yourself is a spiritual thermometer indicating your level of development.

5. We become more attractive

Most of us have gone out on the town with a (possibly secret) mission of finding a mate, only to come home empty handed. We all know the old adage, ‘love comes when you least expect it’. That’s because when we aren’t desperate, we aren’t actively searching. We’re in the moment, content with ourselves and allowing whatever unfolds to happen. We’ve all seen that person at a bar who exudes desperation and is seeking attention. Desperation is not usually attractive. The only person it attracts is someone who’s looking to use the other person’s desperation as a means to their end. Desperation opens up a direct line to abuse. If we feel we’re so unworthy that we have to seek out attention, chances are others won’t find us worthy either. Once we start spending (and enjoying) time with ourselves and growing to love ourselves, the desperation to find “that perfect someone” will fade away, and paradoxically opens us up to finding a healthy romantic partner. We become more content and at ease with ourselves and by virtue, life. We already are that perfect someone.

Now that you know some of the best reasons to get into a relationship with yourself you may be wondering what we can do to take the first steps. I've listed 3 things that we can begin doing today to improve the relationship we have with ourselves. And these are just starters, to get your “foot in the door”.

1. Take yourself out on a date

This could be a stay-home date, or a trip to the movie theatre. What’s key is remembering what you love. Think back to when you were a child. What did you love to do? For me it was drawing. Despite the fear of others finding out just how terrible of a drawer I am, I took myself out to a figure drawing class. And guess what? I had a lot of fun etching the body of a female model. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was capable of drawing the human body with such precision, especially after all the years of thinking I could hardly draw a stick man. That was my story, but now it’s changed. I bought an acrylic paint set and began painting canvas . Although I didn’t necessarily adore the end result nor was I quick to display the finished product, I had fun doing it. It led me to discover my love of body painting, which I had forgotten that I used to do as a child. What counts is that I tried something new. I learned more about myself. I decided I was worth a trip to the art supply store and allowed myself to have fun. I didn’t allow the fear of trying something new win the battle over my desire to give myself a gift.

2. Slow down

I like to call this “following the Universe”. Once I had an incredible vacation in the Mexican state of Oaxaca at a small beach town called Puerto Escondido. It was a life changing experience and when I came back to Vancouver I was blissful. The way I was walking and interacting with the world had changed - I had slowed my pace and allowed the universe to guide me, rather than being in what I thought was control, or ‘one step ahead’. I slowed my walking to a pace that exuded enjoyment of the moment. We have the rest of our lives to ‘go somewhere’, why not enjoy the journey? Otherwise we’ll walk a thousand footsteps for what, getting somewhere? I used to walk really fast and with a serious purpose. It wasn’t uncommon for me to receive messages from friends accusing me of ignoring them on the street. The truth is that I never saw them. I was too busy trying to get somewhere, to be in control of every moment, rather than just allowing the flow and magic of life to unfold around me. I was much happier for following the Universe. Things came easier to me and people smiled and interacted more with me. This is possible to do even in the busiest of cities, if we’re mindful.

3. Eat your veggies

We’ve heard it a million times - ‘you are what you eat’. But we’re also how we eat. Slow down your eating. Slow down your grocery shopping. When you’re in the produce section, really observe all the different varieties of food before you. What are you attracted to? What looks beautiful? Eventually and with practice, we’ll gravitate towards certain items. Buy those items. Take care of them - wash, hold, cut them - really interact with and appreciate your food. Look at each bite before it enters your mouth, and make sure to chew a lot. Take your time. Realize food is medicine and that we are nourishing our body with what we eat. Make meal time a ritual and a time where it’s just you and the food. Remember that all the food we ingest has an energetic body as well. We must treat them with respect. And don’t forget to slow down.

By starting this inward journey of self-love you may open up to the realization that you’ve been hard on yourself for many years, if not your entire life. You may come to realize that you’ve been abusing your body and your spirit for a long time. This can be a very sad moment, but a necessary one. Let yourself cry. Let yourself feel. It’s important to let your emotions play out and not hold them back, lest they get stuck.

Remember that we’re all on this journey together, and there is no finish line.

It’s OK. You’re OK. We’re all OK.

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