Relationships take hard work – there is no doubt about it.

Clients often ask what I specialise in and my answer is “relationships.” The assumption then is that I work with couples – which I do, however I also have many individual clients who have neglected their relationship with themselves.

It is how we relate to ourselves that has a huge impact on our relationships with others.

We learn about ourselves from our first social environment – our families. Some of us grow into adulthood with set beliefs that they are unworthy, not good enough, not pretty enough,not clever enough, and the list goes on, and as a result ,many look externally to define who they are.

If we do not have a strong internal sense of who we are then how are we able to fulfil the human need for connection to others. Here are some tips that can assist you in coping with pressures that all relationships bring:

Look after your health: Eat in a healthy way. Do not regard food as a reward or punishment but as fuel for your body – eat to provide yourself with energy. Exercise to keep yourself fit. Research has shown that exercise lowers stress hormones and raises “feel good” hormones.Find an activity that you enjoy. After all if you are constantly angry and under stress, what is your internal dialogue and how does that negativity impact on your relationships with others?

Connect with others who make you feel good about yourself. Connect with those that you feel comfortable with and with people that allow you to be more of yourself.People who are supportive towards you and who have similar values to yours – they will bring out the best in you. Do things that develop who you are rather than define who you are.

Have compassion for yourself: This is extremely difficult when life hasn’t turned out the way it was supposed to be. Don’t judge yourself harshly, don’t set the bar so high that you can never reach that perfect goal. Give yourself a break from criticism – if you can practice this with yourself you will be far more open and real with others. Allow yourself to be different from before and find a new way to be.You will find that others do not judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.

Live according to your values: make decisions in your life because they match your values, not because you want to be part of the crowd or you want to control the behaviour of others….do things because you choose to and take responsibility for the outcome.

Have fun: It can so liberating to do something outside the square – sometimes its good to “break the rules”

Imagine what its like to be with you: try to imagine how other people experience you.Listen to feedback you get from those around you.Don’t take it as criticism,have the courage to own some negative traits – we all have them – and try to limit them when you are around those who are significant to you.

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