The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz episode 131 asks a simple question: How is your relationship with yourself?
The most important relationship we’ll have in our lives is our relationship with ourselves. So, how’s it going? Do you like yourself? In your self-talk, are you validating, or negative? Do you allow yourself the time, space, and energy to nurture yourself?
How we treat ourselves is often reflected in how we treat others. In this episode, I explain why our own personal, inner sense of success is the key to sustaining happiness in life.
I’d love to hear what you think! Be sure to leave a comment with your own thoughts and questions!
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Transcript of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz #131
Hello everybody and welcome to The Possibility Podcast. I’m your host Mel Schwartz. I practice psychotherapy, marriage counseling, and I am the author of the book The Possibility Principle, the companion to this podcast. I hope to be your thought provocateur and I’ll be introducing you to new ways of thinking and a new game plan for life.
Today I’m going to be speaking very directly to the possibilities that await us or the possibilities that we deny ourselves by taking a dive into looking at our relationship with our own self on the most subtle and on the most personal level. Considering do you like yourself? Do you validate yourself? What are the messages you give yourself?
What is the intimate relationship with yourself that perhaps or most likely you’ve never even considered because that my friends is the source of how you’re going to experience your life and how other people are going to experience you. The thought to share this topic came to me while I was facilitating a therapy session just today.
I was working with a woman who is a physician and she works in the hospital and at times she is on call. Now this is not a young woman right out of medical school. She’s approaching middle age and has children and is married and when she is on call perhaps once a week it is ruinous. We understand sleep hygiene, being on call means sleep deprivation, grave consequences but the reason I was looking at her being on call and going along with it was around how she didn’t value herself. So I started to ask some questions.
Do you have to be on call? She hesitated a bit and said to me, well probably not. Well then why are you on call? Would there be negative consequences to your not being on call? She shrugged her shoulders and said no. Then why are you causing harm to your health, your well-being, your family by suffering terrible sleep deprivation at least once a week?
We talked about this for weeks. We talked about it perhaps for months until I could urge her to get to the place of finally agreeing to address it with her supervisor at work. Well today she had great news. She had the meeting and she is no longer on call. I thought, wow cause for celebration. How is she feeling about herself? Did she give herself a pat on the back at least or share this great information in the celebratory way around what she did for herself? And she looked at me like I was speaking another language that she was not conversant with. She said, give myself a pat on the back, feel good? No, I’m too busy to do that. I don’t have the time.
I proposed to her that of course she has the time. It’s just a moment’s reflection, but I’m too busy. I have so much to do. I moved from one task to the next. I explained to her that she was like the cog in the machine. You know that cog in Newton’s worldview machine that I’ve spoken about? She was part of that machine and the cog with no inner relationship with herself other than how she was facilitating getting through her tasks of the day, day in and day out. But she was not cultivating any kind of relationship with herself.
Your primary relationship in life is your relationship with yourself, not with your spouse, your children or your parents and not with work. It’s your relationship with yourself. Depriving yourself of happiness results in depression or at the least just blindly going through life day in and day out like a hamster on a wheel.
So I shared with her a story personally. I had never really devoted myself to being in shape, working out, exercising. When I was young and at any point in life, I never had any issues with weight. So the motivation to work out, to lose weight was not there for me. But as the years go by, I’ve come to understand clearly that if I want to be healthy and live an optimal life and thwart disease and slow down aging, I need to be fit. I already take great care of my nutrition, but I needed exercise. So I’ve gotten the habit of what I’m going to call power walking or it’s called power walking. It looks silly. I’m walking, but racing as fast as I can.
And I recently purchased an Oura ring, which I greatly recommend, which allows me to track everything including my fitness. So I have a path that I take once a day and it’s a mile and I time it. And it’s a power walk. And I had been doing 15 minutes or 16 minutes to power walk the mile, but I got competitive with myself. I wanted to get my heart rate up. I wanted to get into better shape. And so I kept knocking off 10, 15, 20 seconds off my time. Then intermittently through the power walk, I begin to jog. Ultimately, the jog turned into a bit of a sprint. So over that mile, three or four times, I would sprint for maybe a hundred yards. I was having a hard time, however, breaking my personal barrier of a 14 minute mile. This weekend, I did it. 13 minutes and 55 seconds, my power walk mile.
I was proud as a peacock. I came home. I told my wife, I told my children, I texted them. I texted my brother. I was proud of myself.
That’s the key. I was proud of myself. I shared this with my client. I felt good about me. Could I say I was too busy to feel good about me? That would be ridiculous. In fact, I wasn’t too busy to choose not to share it with those I loved and cared about. I congratulated myself. It just took a moment. I explained to my client that I wouldn’t say I don’t have the time. It’s a moment. I asked her to think about what is her life’s purpose. Is it simply her productivity? How about cultivating a relationship with herself? Do you feel good about yourself? Invite it in. Allow it.
A relationship with yourself is a mirror to your relationship with everyone else. I was curious about this absence, this void of her allowing herself to feel good about herself. So we explored her childhood and not for the first time. And I learned that her reward, her affirmation from her parents was about moving successfully from one achievement to the next. But she never felt special. As a child, she never felt special as a person. She never learned how to nurture herself, whether it’s her health, her nutrition, her parenting, her work as a physician. It was robotic. She’d been going through life robotically. And with that, her only takeaway ultimately was, I don’t matter. I just have work to do. I have to function. And I don’t matter. There are things to get done. I’m off to my next task.
Not coming up for air and acknowledging herself, not nurturing herself. You know, you can be successful and you can be productive and you can value yourself as well. That’s what I call inner success. Inner success, valuing yourself leads to happiness. Happiness requires inner success. You can have all of the external success and achievement and rewards in life, but it’s going to leave you incomplete and shallow if you don’t allow yourself inner success, feel good about yourself.
Look at yourself. Think about yourself. Smile to yourself. I did well.
For her, it was stepping out of the straight jacket and conformity of life and asking her supervisor or insisting that she just couldn’t be on call anymore. By not being on call, she could open up to treating herself well. But the next step is where we ventured today. And it was an opening up to rewarding herself financially. How many of us go through life without the gratification of emotionally rewarding ourselves, feeling good about herself? And by the way, when you do that, you have a tremendous reserve of happiness and gratitude and good feelings that you can share with others. They experience you entirely differently.
So the takeaway for today is life is about much more than the work, the business, the challenges and the tasks of life. The source to a life well lived is to have a joyful, healthy, inner relationship with yourself where the first person to feel good about you is not someone external to you. Feel good about yourself. That doesn’t mean that you’re turning a blind eye to things that you need to be self-critical about. It doesn’t mean that at all. It just means you’re nurturing yourself. And if you nurture yourself, then you are in a position to nurture others.
So give this some thought. Are you kind to yourself? Do you have thoughts and feelings where you embrace yourself and take that step forward in your own unity? If you don’t, ask yourself what’s in the way and get started. And if you do, keep it going and give yourself more of it. It’s joyful.
Until next time, be well and nurture yourself.
Bye for now.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Possibility Podcast. I welcome your feedback on this and any episode. Please send me an email at mel at melschwartz.com or leave a comment in the show notes for this episode at melschwartz.com. If you like what you’re hearing, please take a moment to rate and review the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Your reviews really help boost the visibility for the show, and it’s a great way for you to show your support. Finally, please make sure to subscribe to the Possibility Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, and that way you’ll never miss an episode. Thanks again, and please remember to always welcome uncertainty into your life and embrace new possibilities.