Connect with Self to Connect with Others


It’s February again, which means Valentines Day is approaching again.  And many of my clients are expressing their deep longing for a relationship, or deeper connection in the ones they already have.  Ironically, I find that when we take time to slow down and deeply connect with ourselves, we will find it easier to find satisfaction in relationships with others too. 

Researcher, Storyteller Brené Brown expresses this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection

If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe we are worthy of love and belonging.

This is some of the work we do in therapy, exploring the messages we’ve been told (directly or indirectly) by our families, our culture, and by ourselves, and considering how we might re-write these messages and what we might give ourselves permission for.  This allows us to begin to make changes in how we show up in our relationships.  How we feel about ourselves, directly impacts how we interact with others. 

Psychologist and mindfulness teacher Tara Brach spoke to this powerfully: 

Unworthiness is near epidemic in our culture.  …You may not realize how directly your self-judgment undermines your ability to feel close or intimate with someone else.  Because here’s the thing, it’s biologically impossible to feel critical of ourselves and to make an open-hearted connection at the same time, they are mutually exclusive.

Wow, mutually exclusive.  Let's let that sink in for a minute.  This requires active work for most of us to turn down the volume on our negative thoughts and extend self-compassion and acceptance for ourselves.  It’s often easier to think well of others than it is of ourselves, which may stem in part from wishing things were different, feeling that we aren’t enough. 

This February, give yourself the gift of deeper self-compassion with these free exercises by self-compassion and mindfulness expert Dr. Kristin Neff.  Or, if you are ready, consider scheduling an appointment and we can explore how these dynamics may be impacting your own sense of wellbeing.