“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams: who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
One of the most important things you can ever do to be healthy and happy is establish mutually rewarding relationships in your life:
- With your family, or a spiritual family of select people you choose
- With a spiritual community, which is a larger tribe of like-minded people
- With an intimate loved one
Many of us put a lot of time and effort into finding and cultivating these relationships without pausing to consider that the quality of all these relationships depends on the relationship you have with yourself – the most important relationship you will ever have with anyone in your entire life.
Why is your relationship with yourself the most important relationship you will ever have?
Because the world you experience is a projection of your own inner consciousness. Whatever you believe on the inside you experience on the outside.
As A Course in Miracles puts it:
“There is nothing outside you.”
When we finally grasp that – in fact – there is nothing outside ourselves, then learning how to be healthy and happy becomes an inner game. If you want to move ahead in your life, you basically have to move INTO your head.
Many people fail in ever learning how to be truly healthy OR happy because they never learn how to have a healthy relationship with themselves.
How would you know whether or not you have a healthy relationship with yourself?
- You are basically healthy.
- You consider yourself a basically happy person, which means you laugh and smile a lot and express gratitude and appreciation on a daily basis.
- You have plenty of energy for everything you need to do and want to do.
- You have a healthy relationship with food, which means you choose foods that are in harmony with your constitution, eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full.
- You balance work and play, activity and rest. That means you have both and ON and an OFF button and you know how and when to use each one.
- You are comfortable both by yourself and also in the company of other people. You can be happy either way.
When we become unhealthy or unhappy in our lives, most of us look outside ourselves for answers.
Surely there was some unfortunate event that happened in our childhood, surely there was some bug we caught on the way to work, if only we could get the information about the latest fad diet, if only we could make more money or get a better job – that’s where the answers lie, we think.
There is a lot we can learn from the world of holistic alternative medicine about how to eat better, exercise smarter, get deeper rest and have a better attitude. That is for sure and that is why I will never run out of clients, as there is so much to know and so much to experience.
As much time as I spend doing healing work and educating and empowering my clients how to heal themselves, all this information I can give you works so much better if you take the time to heal your relationship with yourself.
How do you know if you have an unhealthy relationship with yourself?
- You are constantly struggling with one health problem after another.
- You are resigned to a constant set point of anxiety and/or depression.
- You are constantly fatigued.
- You habitually overeat, under eat or are constantly on or off the latest diet trend.
- You don’t know how to stop, which means your nervous system is constantly in high gear – a sure set up for a crash at some point if you are not already laid up on the couch.
- You can’t stand being by yourself, which means you really can’t face your inner feelings, or you are so uncomfortable with yourself that you can’t stand being in a crowd of other people either.
Because most of us are so outwardly focused, we never stop to recognize that often our No. 1 problem is our relationship with ourself.
When you have an unhealthy relationship with yourself, you are generally playing one of four primary roles:
- Poor Me. Poor Me is constantly talking about being too busy or too tired, a victim of everything and everybody – the latest bug going around, a random car crash, the economy, the boss, the aging process, you name it. Poor Me never has enough and other people always seem to have more of everything. Poor Me thinks the world is doing all this to him, rather than the other way around. This is not a fun role to play because just as soon as Poor Me solves one very difficult problem in their very challenging, threatening world, by God, there is yet another problem looming down the pike. You can spot Poor Me a mile away because Poor Me gets lots of juice out of telling tales of sorrow and woe.
- The Intimidator. The Intimidator is super hard on himself or herself. No matter how hard he or she works, it’s never enough to really get ahead. No matter how much weight he or she loses, it’s never enough because gee it would be better to be even skinnier. No matter how much money he or she makes, it’s never enough, never enough, never enough. The ideals that The Intimidator live by are basically unattainable. Even if he or she drives the best car, makes a huge salary, gets up and exercises at 5 a.m. and achieves size 0, they are still miserable because someone else is always taller, richer, better looking or apparently more successful. If only you drove yourself just a little bit harder, you lazy wretch, you finally might get “there,” where ever “there” is.
- The Interrogator. “Where were you on the night of Friday the 13th?” The Interrogator is always second guessing himself or herself. “Why didn’t I do that better? What is wrong with me?” The Interrogator has bought into the idea that there actually is such a thing as perfection. If there could be a Spell Check app for their life, they would use it. Caught up in questioning their past mistakes or spending too much time weighing future options, overwhelmed by the possibility that they could make the wrong choice or miss out if they make a misstep, The Interrogator has little energy for dealing with the present.
- Aloof. Aloof never really commits to anything because he or she is constantly judging. They are constantly looking for ripoffs, scam artists, lies and deceptions or ways they could possibly get hurt because they don’t want to do the hard work of committing to a relationship, a plan, a job or a project with all the imperfections inherent in dealing with what I refer to as “actual humans.” Aloof has trouble finding their inner fire because nothing is going to work out anyway, so why bother. It is helpful to realize that none of us is going to get out of here alive so we might as well throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the experience. Aloof is guarded against all of life and therefore misses out not just on the pot holes but also the ecstasy of life.
You can watch yourself playing out these dramas in these three ways:
- In your inner dialogue, how you talk to yourself.
- In your actions or non actions.
- In what you describe as your problems in your life.
Once you recognize that your problem is not, in fact, out there but OMG, actually IN HERE, how do you go about healing your relationship with yourself?
As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Fake it until you make it.” This phrase comes from Aristotle’s notion that acting virtuous will in fact eventually make you virtuous.
Here are a few action steps you can take to begin:
- Make a list of your top 20 qualities. If you don’t know what they are, ask three of your closest friends or loved ones to give you a list so you can actually begin to see the good inside you. This will help you connect to your highest vibration – the best version of you where you are in fact expressing your Higher Self.
- Spend time twice a day either rereading this list or record it in your own voice as a series of affirmations you can listen to on your smart phone. For example, “I am a kind person. I am generous. I am loving, etc.”
- When you look in the mirror, instead of looking for your flaws, the zit on your nose, the fat on your thighs or the roll in your belly, look into your own eyes and remind yourself of your positive qualities. Repeat your list.
- Identify your primary drama. Although we can all fall into Poor Me, The Intimidator, The Interrogator or Aloof from time to time, usually you are playing one role more than others. This would be your shadow self. If you get really good at it, you will notice that your primary drama may even have a particular costume that you wear when you are playing this role. For example, “poor me” may wear bag lady clothes. The better you understand your primary drama, the faster you can catch yourself when you fall into playing it for the 100th time today. Hopefully the more often you see it the more you will get bored with it and long to move on to something less soap-operish.
- Come up with a pet name for your shadow self, such as “Snookums,” or some other mildly funny name. You don’t have to share this name with anybody else. When you are playing this small version of yourself (as opposed to acting from your Higher Self), say to yourself, “There she/he goes again!” and develop a sense of compassionate humor. “Snookums” may be hard to repress sometimes, so just have fun with him or her as much as possible and recognize that other people have their “Snookums” also.
In kinesiology, there is an energy point on the right temple that I can test to see if a person’s shadow self is in charge. I check this energy point at the beginning of a healing because otherwise your shadow will try to sabotage your own healing.
You can also be aware if your shadow is in charge because even if you know the “right” things to do, you will be doing the exact opposite – eating donuts, lying on the couch, pushing your spouse’s buttons, pissing off your boss.
If I find that your shadow is in charge, I will do a healing on that issue so that you can finally live in the light of your true self.
This will be a very freeing experience, where you find a new balance with your shadow and lovingly allow your Higher Self to move you forward no matter what.
As you go about healing your relationship with yourself, you will find that all your other relationships magically improve.
In fact, if you are having trouble with an intimate loved one, with your family or with your community, you may do well to ask yourself if in fact YOU are actually the problem and not them.
As the comic strip character Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
When we act at this level, taking ultimate responsibility for everything that happens in our lives, deep levels of true healing are sure to happen, blessing not just ourselves but the lives of everyone around us. We can become kinder, gentler and happier and so can our intimate loved ones.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people,” Carl Jung said.
What is healing? True healing happens when we can identify our shadow self, make peace with it and move forward with compassionate awareness.
A great post. So valuable for all of us. Great tool for revealing ourself and repairing ourself. Thanks!!
Ditto that: great post, thank you! I find that the more I commit to ‘lightening up’ the more my shadow comes out. I can be in the best circumstances but if my fatigue is high, the victim dialogue begins. Thank you so much for the ideas here.