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  • Writer's pictureDr Georgina Barnett


We all want the perfect relationship, and even if you feel you have it, the fact remains the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Yet in my years in the psychology field, I’ve observed a significant polarisation between how people say want to be treated and how they treat themselves. If we’re asked what qualities we would want from a dream lover, answers would encompass traits such as loving, exciting, attentive, understanding, yet instead of being like this towards ourselves we are often critical, restrictive and even neglectful.

The fact is, our self-relationship is the one that is under our direct control, and we have the power to harness confidence and comfort as well as success and peace through the way we deal with ourselves. Whilst the concept of ‘treat yourself like a lover’ might make some people wince, the truth is that the way you treat yourself is how others will come to treat you. Treat yourself like a monarch and others will follow suit. Many people wait for someone to appear in their lives to cultivate experiences of compassion and merriment, yet the above principle suggests that if this is what you want from others, the fastest way to make it happen is to start creating this for yourself. .

How would you want a lover to talk to you?

An effective starting point is your internal dialogue. You don’t have to spend the day making declarations of love to yourself (although for some that wouldn’t be a bad start), but consider, what do you say when you talk to yourself? Sometimes our commentary is peppered with remarks we would never inflict on others. What would you say to someone you really cared about? We need different messages from ourselves at different times - sometimes it’s to be your own cheerleader, at other times you need a tough-love dialogue to propel yourself towards something for your greater good, and on other occasions you seek an internal voice of deep compassion. Whatever your need, you have the power of choice regarding how you talk to yourself – it is the words you choose that will determine your emotional state.

How would you want a lover to treat you?

Acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, emotional responsivity and sometimes just being spoilt rotten are what we desire, but do we do this for ourselves? We can give ourselves an array of experiences to nourish and inspire our souls. The usual suspects spring to mind first – the aromatic bath, cooking ourselves a glorious meal, new bed linen…. However, treating yourself well can also be abandoning your schedule in favour of rest when you’re overtired, or going with your inner child when you decide you’d rather go the beach than run errands. A friend recently told me how he fell to reading a novel he hadn’t read in years one weekend, and while part of him was absorbed, he had a nagging sense of guilt for not achieving anything else for a couple of days. Why do we feel like we always need to be ‘achieving’? If we’re with a lover, we are content just to hang out – just be. We can extend this to how we behave towards ourselves – we don’t always have to be doing, we can create the bliss of just ‘being’.

Take the time to become attuned to your needs and aspirations and instigate bringing them about. Whether it’s arranging a ride in a vintage car you’ve loved since childhood or shelling out for a two hour massage, give to yourself.

The need for constancy

What if you had a lover who sometimes indulged you and takes you off for a magical time, but then reverts to treating you in a mediocre or unmindful manner, what would you come to think of them? This is why treating ourselves in a loving way should be something we do with consistency. Having the self-respect to continually talk to ourselves in a self-supporting dialogue, and actively seeking out the experiences we dream of is the way to create a life of personal meaning.

Photography: @Steve3p_0


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