It might seem a little counter-intuitive, but it’s true!
The way you habitually talk to and treat yourself powerfully impacts your relationship with your partner. If you feel a lack of intimacy or that you are disrespected and taken for granted by your love, it’s likely that you treat yourself in a similar way.
Let us be clear here…
We’re NOT saying that it’s all your fault when your partner loses it and screams at you, when he or she refuses to call when running late or any other behavior that is harsh, offensive or even abusive.
Your partner is responsible for his or her words and behaviors, but you don’t have to be a victim.
You’re not helpless and this is really great news! If you have noticed distance, tension and conflict in your relationship, you get to decide how you’ll respond. You are the one who gets to choose when to set a boundary and even whether or not to stay in the relationship.
AND, you can also choose to look a little deeper at the way you usually think about and talk to yourself.
Why is self-talk so important?
Many of us look to the one we love to make us feel good, valued, attractive and loved. We spend most of our time criticizing how imperfect we look, act and are. The self-talk “conversations” that the vast majority of us have with ourselves consist of put downs with some guilt and shaming thrown in as well.
If you spend most of your time thinking about how you’re not doing enough or you’re somehow not enough, is it a surprise that this negativity will carry over into your relationship?! Intimacy and closeness depend on a sense of safety, mutual respect and love.
When you trash talk yourself, you erode all of these within yourself. This restricts your ability to cultivate safety, respect, love and connection with your partner too.
So, if you don’t like the distance you feel in your relationship, the change starts within you.
Try these 3 ways to improve your self-talk…and your love relationship too:
#1: Question stressful thoughts.
We have deep admiration and appreciation for Byron Katie’s process of self-inquiry called “The Work.” Katie teaches a simple yet transformative process in which you meet a stressful thought with 4 questions and a turnaround.
When you notice that your self-talk is negative and hurtful, identify the stressful thought involved and use “The Work” to question it.
Even if your only action is to interrupt a tirade against yourself by taking a deep breath and asking, “Is this really true?” the momentum can change. In the space created with your breath and question, return to an understanding that you’re doing the best you can. Then make a choice about how to meet your need or improve an unwanted situation.
#2: Make positive shifts.
Keep your self-talk as positive as you can. Does this mean you stand in front of a mirror and repeat affirmations you don’t actually believe? Not necessarily.
What it can mean is that you take a critical, self-directed comment and you make a shift. Instead of telling yourself, “I’m old, boring and dull,” say “I feel the need for some excitement today. What would be fun?”
When you make a positive shift, you aren’t denying how you feel or ignoring something that needs your attention. You are approaching it in a new way– a way that will uplift you.
#3: Walk your talk.
Changing your self-talk doesn’t usually happen all at once. With intention and focus, you’ll probably fall into being more self-supportive and positive more of the time. When you’re stressed, tired or ill you’re more likely to revert to your old ways, but just gently interrupt the put down and return to your new habit.
The more you practice affirming self-talk, the easier it will be to carry healthier respect and connection to your love relationship. Make sure you are “walking your talk” by showing your partner how much you now respect and value yourself and him or her too. Let it come through in your words and actions.
As you deepen your relationship with yourself in a genuine and loving way, your relationship with your partner can easily and effortlessly deepen and improve too.