There are a lot of reasons why some of us women are unable to set the stage for creating healthy relationships. One in particular that I’ve notice is having a disconnect to self (self-love, self-acceptance, self-worth etc…) Because of this lack of connection, we subconsciously get into relationships and build unhealthy attachments.
Self-exploration is not something that most of us are encouraged to practice. However it’s such an important element in developing a strong relationship with yourself. I want to help women make a shift from having a lack of connection to self to having a deeper sense of self before committing to someone else. Or even reclaiming that connection while lost in a relationship.
The best way I know how to do this is to share the lessons I’ve learned around self-exploration along with practical course-correcting tools, strategies and resources to help you engage in this practice. In this instance the focal point is examining fundamental relationship questions that can help lay the foundation for creating authentic, happy & healthy relationships.
How I came to this realization:
When my marriage ended, I was really down on myself. I felt so disempowered and wanted to regain this personal power I’ve learned about. I happened to find this “Get Your Ish Together” life coaching class that lasted 30 days and I eagerly took it. It was such a wake-up call because it helped me reclaim a strong sense of self; which created a re-connection to self and redefine my relationship standards to a higher level.
The life class forced me to slow down and go on a quest of self-exploration. So many great questions came up that I never really took the time to gain clarity on, or even realized that I didn’t have a strong answer to. I completed that course with a greater sense of clarity about who I was, who I wanted to be and what I wanted out of love & life. One of the hardest lessons I learned was when you have no sense of who you are, you can be easily persuaded into being who someone wants you to be and doing what pleases them rather than yourself and that’s...No Bueno!
What I hope will happen after you complete this exercise is for you to get on the path of being yourself. That means accepting all of of who you are. The power of knowing who you are, is so you can live your most authentic life and create your most authentic relationships. As well as having a strong sense of self. So as result when you meet a guy, he will know upfront who you are and he can then make an informed decision about moving forward with you or not.
What I know for sure, is that you have to first know how to be happy without a relationship. I’m not saying that you have to have all of all of your shit together and be fully self-actualized before you get into a relationship. I know all of that can happen after you meet someone. However, always maintain a self-awareness about where you are in your life, where you want to go and how you plan to get there and act on it.
Before you begin your self-exploration process, keep these things in mind:
- Grab a pen and paper or you computer to record your answers
- Answer each question without judging yourself
- Be honest with yourself, no one will see your answers and it will help lead to true awareness
- Trust that the information you uncover will in some way lead to a greater sense of peace about yourself.
Do I have a strong sense of self? (this includes an understanding of...your personality, values, needs, habits, strengths weakness, likes, dislikes, the good, bad, the unchangeable parts of you etc…)
I also want to say this...Knowing your likes and dislikes will save you from having to put up with activities and behaviors you really don’t like. You will have a better chance at finding a man who has similar interest, beliefs and values. That doesn’t mean you don’t do things that you partner likes to do; it just means you won’t engage and tolerate things that goes against your standards.
Do I accept myself completely without hesitation? If not.. self-acceptance is something you need to work on. Use the link below for further steps on how to start this process.
http://psychcentral.com/lib/therapists-spill-12-ways-to-accept-yourself/00013976 Once you have full elf-acceptance; it will lead to self-love.
Do I know my self-worth? Learning to have an internal appreciation for who you are at the core isn’t easy, but it is possible. When you have a strong sense of self-worth you will not accept nothing less than the standards you set for yourself. Take stock of all that you are good at. The point is you still have to feel secure in your own worth even when you don’t get validation from others.
Also, keep these questions in mind: What is it that I consider worthy about myself? Are these reasons connected to outside factors, like people or circumstances? Or can I trace my self-worth to some internal certainties? Here’s a link to help you with building your self-worth: http://www.wikihow.com/Build-Self-Worth
How do I show that I value myself? Am I am practicing self-care, appreciating my qualities, investing time, energy, effort, and sacrifice to nurture myself? Am I showing appreciation for your own better qualities (even while trying to improve my not so great ones)? Am I taking care of my physical and psychological health, growth, and development? Am I upholding my principles or standards of behavior or my belief of what is important in my life?
What are my goals in life; personally & professionally? Have I started to map out how I can reach those goals? You have to have some sense of direction in your life. If not you can get lost in your relationships real easy and once that happens it’s hard to reclaim your sense of self. One way to do this is to think about “where do I want to be 5 years from now”. Create your five year plan. Here are some resources to help you get started:
Do I know what my emotional needs are? If you are unaware of your emotional needs, click below to see a list of needs in different categories and take the time to identify your personal needs: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/358.
Other questions to keep in mind around this topic: Do I know how to manage my emotions? In the sense that you don’t hold anyone else responsible for your feelings. You have to be able to go inside yourself and check-in and figure out what role you played in the situations that triggered a negative emotion. This will help you avoid playing the victim role and instead be in control of your thoughts and emotions.
How many of these need am I meeting for myself? And which needs do I expect my partner to fulfill? Remember to be fair about who’s responsible for each need.
Resource: the book: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. This is a great book for identifying your emotional need for love. It’s a must read.
Do I have a usual schedule that I follow? if so, what is it? This is important because, your initial behavior will set the tone for relationship. If you drop everything you are involved with to be with a man this sends a message that shows that your life is not important to you and you will place a man and a relationship above all else including your own needs. Make sure to stay focus on your priorities. But that doesn't mean you can't focus on your relationship as well without losing ground with who you are and where you are in life.
Do I have a set of my own friends and a strong social life? This is important because your friendships and social life are a part of what makes you who you are. Think about if the relationship don’t work out, you need to have those parts of your life intact so that they will be available for moral support.
What are my relationship beliefs? Belief systems are our perceptions that we’ve accept as being truth; which comes from past experiences. For the most part we have belief systems that aren't even ours. We've accepted them from our parents, teachers, and people in our community, our religion, our culture, society and we haven't even questioned why we believe many of them. We just accept them, and then operate our lives based on those belief systems.
If you are wondering, how do you know what your beliefs are in regards to relationships? If you are making statements like, i. e...relationships are hard, I can't have a fulfilling relationship because my parents didn’t etc… then these are your belief systems.
After you’ve identify your relationship beliefs, ask yourself this question: Are my beliefs about relationships empowering or limiting my chances of creating a healthy relationship?
Why do I want to be in a relationship? think about this... Are your “whys” about getting ONLY what you want? or for the purpose of learning about yourself and sharing your love? Signs of unhealthy reasons are, you don’t want to feel lonely, you want to fill an empty space or you want someone to complete you and give you what you are not giving yourself.
What are my needs and wants in a relationship? Some of us usually neglect what we most need to be happy in relationships. However, when you are clear about your needs, you can better communicate them and you have a better chance at getting them met. Keep in mind needs are things you can’t live without and wants are things that you can.
What do I believe my role as a significant other should be? do you believe in the traditional gender roles, roles from a religious standpoint or are you more liberal?
What are my expectations of a partner?(apply the same thought process from previous question)
What models of a relationship have I observed & is it a model I want to repeat in my relationship experiences?
Have I taken stock of past relationships and looked at what worked and what didn’t? What were some valuable lessons learned from those experiences.
What are my principles as it relates to relationships? It’s really important to be very clear about what you will and will not accept. The best way to do that is to set conditions for yourself that you like and don’t like based on past relationship experiences and to also think about what fits within the guidelines of your life.
What are my boundaries as it relates to a relationship? If you know what your boundaries are you will be less likely to tolerate what you don’t deserve. Use the link below to learn more about boundaries and how to set them: http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/0007498
Whew!!! I know these are a lot of really deep questions but trust me, it’s worth the time to explore them all; if you want to increase your chances at creating a better experience in relationships.
If nothing else, having a sense of clarity around these questions will at least position you in a place where you won’t compromise your goals and principles for the sake of your relationship. This shows that you have taken time to establish your own identity and that’s always a good thing. Self-exploration is an ongoing process, so don’t ever stop practicing it; if you feel some sort of disconnection from who you are.
I would love to hear what questions stood out to you the most, so we can have a dialogue around. So leave a comment below.
There are so much more important questions to be explored around this topic and because of that knowing; I’ve been inspired to explore these questions and more in my book I’m currently writing. (Questions Every Woman should ask herself before searching for love (potential title) Stay tuned for more info on that.
With Love & Gratitude,