Caring for Yourself Before You Can Care for Relationships
Not all relationships have to be romantic to be important, as anyone with a best friend can tell you. But when it comes to relationships with yourself, where do your priorities lie?
Do you have a tendency to put others before yourself, even when it’s harmful or unhealthy? There has to be balance in relationships between taking care of the person you love and taking care of yourself. For many people, finding that balance is a trial in itself.
The Need For Healthy Relationships
Chances are you’ve heard the phrase, “you can’t love someone else until you love yourself”. While that statement doesn’t determine whether you’re worthy of a relationship or not (hint: you’re always worthy of a relationship), there’s a little grain of truth behind what’s being said.
Until you find it easy to love yourself, loving another person is going to be more difficult. Maybe you have a bad habit of people-pleasing or entering into relationships that aren’t healthy. It’s not until you can say to yourself, “you deserve to be happy and respected,” that you’ll really thrive in relationships.
It’s not until you respect yourself that you’ll be able to effortlessly put a stop to relationships that are unhealthy, draining, or even abusive. Because you’ll respect yourself and your self-worth, you’ll know that you deserve to be treated well.
It’s with a healthy self-esteem that you’ll be better at knowing who is right or wrong for you and if the person in question is what you want and need. You’ll be better at deciding if the person is perfect for your life, or if you’re just settling.
Recognizing Unhealthy Relationships
Issues surrounding self-esteem involve more than just hating what you see reflected in the mirror — sometimes, you may not even experience that voice of negativity in the back of your head. Your issues might materialize in the way you treat or present yourself, either mentally or physically.
Particularly in the strain of addiction, if you’ve noticed that you struggle with excessive alcohol or other drug consumption, you likely have a number of other underlying issues that need addressing. Only you know why you seek refuge in drugs or alcohol, but chances are those issues are only being magnified.
The next step is to take stock of the people you keep in your life. Do you keep them around just because they “put up with” you? Or, do they genuinely love you as a person and want to see you grow and be successful?
Do they use you to get things they want, or do they interact with you because they enjoy your company? Most importantly, are they ever physically, verbally, or emotionally violent or abusive? Do they ever do harmful things, and you accept it because you think you “deserve” to be treated that way?
If these ring any bells, it’s time to take a look at your life and see what could use some tending to. Consider looking into therapy and other forms of counseling if you feel lost or confused. A little bit of insight will do wonders in helping you break off toxic and other harmful relationships.
Taking a Leap Into the Unknown
Making big life changes is never easy. Especially when it comes to parts of you you’ve been living with forever, it’s really not easy. But, there’s something so freeing and cleansing about making changes, especially when those changes are for the better.
This doesn’t take into account the pain and struggle of cutting negative people out of your life, especially with those types who have been around for years and make up a part of your identity. But in the end, surrounding yourself with new relationships that treat you well and with respect will always outweigh everything else.
Once you manage to bring more positive influences into your life, it becomes easier to focus on bettering yourself. But it’s not until you learn to recognize what’s healthy in relationships that you’ll be able to decide what’s important to you. The most important first step is taking care of yourself so that you can properly take care of others!
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.