In our years of leading and mentoring, there is one theme shared by women of every generation. It’s a deep longing for real relationships.
No amount of education, family dinners, social gatherings, professional accomplishments or church events satisfies this need.
It’s a need to be seen and known. To belong. To be liked. To be loved by people who see you at your worst and still think you’re the best.
Stepping into real relationships takes courage, but not just the courage to say “hello” or join a small group for the first time.
The courage to make room for real relationships begins with the courage to step into a real relationship with yourself.
We know that the idea of stepping into a relationship with yourself may sound a little strange. We thought so too, at first.
Our immediate impression went to images of date-nights alone... retail therapy to discover our style and connect with our true self… and meditative moments where emotions run amuck. No thank you!
But this isn’t what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about really being aware of yourself—who you are—right now.
You may be holding it together by a string or living the life that you dreamed or swinging somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is whether or not you actually see yourself for who you are. No hiding. No escape. No aspirational filters. Just you.
As we’ve mentored women of all ages, we’re always surprised (and saddened) to discover how many have it together on the outside but are barely keeping it together on the inside.
They know their schedule.
They know who needs them and when (colleagues, kids, friends).
They can tell you all about their family.
They can talk about work, travel and shopping.
They rave about their amazing gym or yoga studio.
They know how much they weigh (but will never share).
They know their next hair appointment, and will gladly tell you why you should switch to their stylist.
If you need something from Trader Joe’s, just ask.
And don’t get them started on the latest trends. They have it, know how to wear it, and may (or may not) share where to get it.
But when it comes to knowing themselves, all we hear are *crickets.*
If this hits close to home, here are some things you can do to rediscover you.
To make room for more real relationships, you have to start by making room for more realness with yourself. Here are four ways to make this happen in your life, today.
1.) Cherish yourself.
To cherish yourself is to treat yourself with the same love and respect that you give to those who are most important to you. It’s the simple practice of making room for you—the practice of nurturing and not withholding care from yourself. This may mean setting time aside to do something you love or writing yourself a personal gratitude list. It might mean paying someone to clean your house this month or taking a long, hot bath with a good book. Whatever you do, make sure to cherish you in the moment. Then add this to your weekly schedule.
2.) Savor time in a sacred place.
There’s something about physical places that has the ability to inspire faith and give you a fresh way of looking at yourself. Whether it’s an atmosphere of beauty, color or solitude, places can quickly realign your heart and your perspective. Maybe it’s a church or a garden… an art gallery or a local marketplace on an off day. Whatever it is for you, go there. Linger. Let the sacredness surround you. And if you don’t have a space like this, keep trying until you find one that stays with you after you leave. Then go back. Time in sacred spaces helps us stop long enough to see the goodness of God in things that delight us… and to remember parts of ourselves that easily get lost in busy schedules.
3.) Do something that makes you feel alive.
When’s the last time you cranked up your music and did some car karaoke or danced in your kitchen while you made dinner? How long has it been since you created something artistic? When was your last live music show? Things that make you come alive are often things you once loved to do, maybe even as a child. To reconnect with yourself, pick something you once enjoyed but no longer do, and do it again. Let yourself be nervous and maybe a little unsure. Don’t worry about how it will go. Just laugh, and if you can, make sure to get some pictures along the way!
4.) Eat dessert for breakfast.
We’re serious about this one, ladies! Chocolate. Ice cream. Cheesecake. Cup cakes. Serve it up! And if dessert isn’t your thing, switch up your routine in some way. If you wear casual clothes to work, put on your favorite dress… just because. If you eat breakfast on the go, wake up a little early and go to your favorite cafe. If you always drive to work but could walk, walk. Choose something to shake things up in your everyday life. Take note of how you feel. Then look for ways to do this more often.
These four ideas are simple ways to give yourself some space to reconnect with what makes you you. It’s not about “the doing” part of your life—the schedule, your work and where to buy your favorite trends. It’s about knowing what really speaks to who you are. The creative, fun, soulful or sacred moments that help you remember why you’re so likeable (we know you are!) and what it feels like to know who you are.
You might say this is like a sound check at a concert, but for your soul.
When you take time to cut the ambient noise of routines and step away from the spaces that promise loud interruptions, you get clarity. And clarity makes room for real understanding.
Proverbs 19:8 (ESV) encourages you to do this for yourself, saying,
The old adage “you can’t give what you don’t have” is true in all relationships, even the one you have with yourself. The more you’re a friend to yourself, the more you’ll understand what it takes to really connect with others. From the overflow of what you do for you will come the ability to build more authentic relationships.
So… if you want to experience great relationships, you need to have a great relationship with yourself. All it takes is a little coffee and chocolate for breakfast.
Cheers to building life well… one sweet moment at a time!