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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SWArticle: The Relationship You Have With Yourself

<tionships begin with the relationship you have with yourself. “What?” you might ask. How do I have a relationship with myself? Well, you talk to yourself, right? You can be encouraging, demeaning, angry at, proud of, and frustrated with yourself, right? In order to have those feelings, there must be a relationship. That relationship is the key to how you develop relationships with others. Do you like yourself? Do you cut yourself slack when you mess up? What are the messages you give yourself? If you find yourself making negative self-statements before and during interactions, the likelihood of interacting negatively with others increases. On the contrary, if the messages you give yourself are positive, then healthy relationships are more likely to develop. If you tell yourself positive things, why would you put up with negative messages from those around you? You wouldn’t. I am not suggesting that you begin telling yourself that you are perfect and that everyone loves you. An honest self-assessment serves you better. But you can be positive.

Here’s an example. You are having a difficult time developing meaningful relationships at Carleton. But an acquaintance invites you to a social event where you know many people will be. Immediately you begin telling yourself that no one there will know you, that no one will want to talk to you, that no one even likes you, that you are stupid and uninteresting, that it would be worse if you went than if you just decided to spend the evening alone in your room being miserable. You decide not to go, which perpetuates the negative messages you have been giving yourself. On the other hand, maybe you decide to go. And you have that initial thought that no one at the event will know you. But instead of going with the negative thoughts, you tell yourself that this is an opportunity for others to start getting to know you. Then you tell yourself that you have interests to share and will be able to connect with a few people at the event who may become acquaintances and possibly friends. Be realistic though. You will not likely walk away from that event with a best friend or a date. But you might have a phone number, an invitation to get together in the next week, or information about an organization you did not know exists.

Relationships require effort. Not just romantic relationships but friendships and your relationship with yourself take effort to be healthy. Starting with your attitude and feelings about yourself is just the first step in developing healthy and safe relationships.

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