5 Keys to improving the Relationship with You and Your Life
It is natural and healthy for people to want to live life with a sense of purpose, passion, and fulfillment. While we must be focused on various sorts of success, we also contend with the challenges of feeling confident, focused, and disciplined to follow through on both our daily duties and tasks and our goals and aspirations. As well, we yearn to feel free from inner limitations, blocks, worries, wounds and hurts.
Overcoming these and other such issues that invariably produce suffering is a feature of genuine growth, maturity and a deepened sense of self-awareness and wisdom in our interactions with people and in the daily choices we must make. Yet, achieving these all important goals in a progressive and satisfying manner is less than likely to the extent that we experience inner conflicts. The most common symptom of this conflict is lowered self-esteem. Apathy, depression, frustration, anger, lack of vision and of hope are other symptoms and there are others yet.
The basic key to solving these dilemmas is to cultivate a healthier relationship with our self. Many of us have been taught by religion that self-love constitutes selfishness. This is exactly the opposite of what is true. When we experience a healthy relationship with our self we feel happier, inspired and at ease and are thereby able to be present with people and circumstances, less self-absorbed in our own drama, and are able to be more giving, empathetic and compassionate with others and so on.
Yet when we do not have a healthy relationship with our self, when inner states of dislike, rejection, anger, hate, frustration and so on linger within our hearts and minds, they contribute to lowered states of self-esteem and self-worth. After many centuries of religious authority and control, we are left with a world filled with so many people who sometimes obviously and often quietly suffer from all the negative symptoms of believing that a healthy relationship with our self is wrong, bad and unhealthy. Whether or not you or others you know are religiously oriented, this negative and erroneous belief has become deeply woven into the fabric of our society and by extension into our education systems. In addition to all the negative consequences above on personal levels, we can both observe and experience subtle lingering states of fear, suspicion, and division between people.
The most immediate and obvious solution to these personal and social issues is to learn how to create a healthier relationship within. It is also worth noting that some spiritual traditions and trends have drawn a distinction between what is called our lower self and our higher SELF. This distinction is drawn to illustrate that our lower self is our ego mind and our higher SELF, represents our soul. As valid as these distinctions may be, the focus here is to look to our self in a more synthesized manner. In other words, in referring to our self in the context intended for this focus, our lower and higher selves can be regarded as a single entity. Put simply, the focus is simply towards our own subjectivity, to our inner thoughts, feelings, emotional states, hopes, dreams and so on. This may also be described as the relationship between our outer objective and our inner subjective awareness.
To this end, I have listed 5 Key choices you can make towards realizing a healthier and happier overall state and this will also improve your relationships with others. If many people began to exercise these 5 simple key choices, our entire society and world would steadily become happier and healthier. Yet, it all begins with each person like the individual stones of a sturdy, integral and sacred edifice.
The 5 Keys are as follows:
- 1. Self-Love
- 2. Self-Like
- 3. Self-Accept
- 4. Self- Acknowledge
- 5. Self-Respect
“If you want to love the creator, love the creation.” You are an expression of creation and this love begins with you. Self-love in the most literal sense is the basis of our spiritual life. Beyond the emotional and/or romantic connotations of the word love, its core meaning implies unity. When self-love is operative, a deep sense of integrity is already established.
Self-love expresses a conscious and sometimes even unconscious realization of our inherent spirituality. Beyond our human nature and our character, personality and conditioning exist the essence of who we are and even of existence itself. The pervasive presence of a spiritual reality at the core of life is self-evident. We see it is the beauty, grandeur, majesty and, in simpler terms, in the design of nature.
Beyond a 5 sensory opportunity to experience the evidence of a conscious, intelligent, purposeful, intentional and invariably loving source at the core of life, we can also feel it be true. This deeply felt sense of knowing, beyond the dividing, sorting, categorizing, differentiating and separating function of the intellectual function of our mind, the principle function of our cerebral cortex, is called intuition. This function of our mind, otherwise understood as our intellect, has been overemphasized in our modern world and begins in elementary school and is why many people are out of tune with their own intuition.
Intuition is that knowing beyond rationale that certain things simply are. We can make efforts to prove them to be true, but we essentially already know what the outcome of our experiments will be. Intuition is the basic function of the heart. Again, principle among this deep sense of knowing is a deep sense of connection with others and all of life in general.
Our heart center, or to use the ancient Sanskrit term ‘Chakra’, should not be confused with the heart organ. The Chakras are directly linked to the endocrine system or glands. There are 7 main Chakras and these may be deemed our ‘7-prong electrical plug’ that connects our physical body to the etheric. These are felt by way of sounding the 5 vowels. Try it! Sound work based on the various tones of the 5 vowels is a feature of spiritual science and all the great spiritual traditions throughout history and the world over is aware of and make various usages of these to generate heightened states of consciousness and for healing. The main point here is that on the basis of the 7 prong plug metaphor, the heart center may be deemed ‘the ground’ portion of the plug, just as we see with a common 3 prong electrical plug.
This brief overview of spiritual science stems from the realization of the importance of maintaining a healthy connection with our heart center. At the deeper reaches of this awareness is the understanding that this is the way in which we connect not only to our center, but to our spiritual essence which communicates to us by way of intuition. With awareness, focus and activation of our heart center and consequently of our intuition, which in turn implies inner communication, the most basic message a person receives is the deep knowing and conviction that “you are a soul incarnate”.
Thus, it may accurately be said that to the extent that a person is unable to genuinely experience and feel a healthy connection with their heart center and thus with their intuition, is the extent to which our personality is overemphasized. So, although it may at first seem counter-intuitive to suppose that self-love is the first key to improving the relationship we have with ourselves and with others, it is because it establishes a vibration of love for God, life and self and therefore of others. When a healthy and authentic state of self-love is firmly established the prospect or tendency to hurt another being, at least deliberately, is significantly minimized. In this state we experience a deep sense of unity and communion with ourselves and all of life.
Where self-love established the spiritual ground and center for our life, self-like represents the foundation of the first and most important friendship in our life. Friendship is one of those important and special words. It evokes feelings and images of mutuality, compatibility, quality time and experiences shared, trust, safety, support and generally of fulfillment.
When we choose to like our self we cultivate a healthy inner relationship. This may also accurately be recognized and experienced to be an inner dialogue. By this process, we can learn to confide with our self. We can develop a deepened state of trust and acceptance, a point which I will address more fully later in this article.
It might be asked whether we can genuinely love our self yet not like our self. This is a difficult question to answer. If our capacity for self-love is deep and strong enough, then I do not think this is possible. We will invariably also like our self. Yet, due to the complexity of our mind and character, we may not be aware of or make the conscious and deliberate step to establish a friendship with our self.
The notion of liking our self and thereby experiencing a friendship within may seem silly or even absurd to some. Yet, the simple fact is that it is a choice subject to a unique mode of perception. This unique mode refers to and recognizes that there is more than one side to us. Yet, if we were to divide this into two sides, we would have the personality with all its various sub-personalities and we would have the soul.
Yet while not necessarily always, it is commonly true that friendships with people change and end. Sometimes this is due simply to the flow of time and changing circumstances. At other times it is because we change, our interests, beliefs, values, orientations and so on. As a consequence, our friendships can prove temporary. When we establish a strong friendship within, which means we continually choose to like our self, to adapt and flow with changing circumstances then we can say we have a friend for life.
We commonly hear, think and experience the reality that ‘nobody is perfect’. Some may argue on the ground that life is a grand miracle and therefore everything and everybody is perfect. Others will assert the paradoxical phrase that life is perfectly imperfect. Upon reflection, we can observe the realities of the Law and Change and the adjoining Law of Motion. Everything in the manifest inverse for the macro to the micro, the cosmic to the atomic, is ever in a state of motion and consequently of change. In turn, this change can be understood to flow in cycles. We can also use the term spirals, which can be understood as cycles in motion. Whichever way you look at it, change is the law and we too are obviously subject to it. Thus, the idea that life is a journey can be seen to be true. Among the challenges linked to the steady flow of movement and change is that we are ever entering into the unknown.
Adding to the metaphor that life is a journey, it is evident that all people undergo high periods and lower periods, peaks and valleys. This is true even in the course of a single day. We awaken from sleep, rise and enter into a flow of activity which itself rises and falls due to changing circumstances and moods. Generally, we make choices, take action, eat, rest, engage with people and situations, aspire to fulfill our needs and desires and then we experience fatigue and sleep again. This example of a normal 24 hours day and night rhythm is common and natural. Yet, we can also say that while there are steady rhythms and flows, there are also larger endings and beginnings. Of course, woven within these natural cycles is the reality of other people. As familiar as are the people closest to us, our family, friends, and colleagues, we are also each mysteries to one another. Most people would agree that others are to some degree a mystery to them which is also another way of realizing just how subjective we each are. Even when we share what appears to be the exact same experience, like sharing a meal, for example, it is not the same. What we call objective reality
As familiar as are the people closest to us, our family, friends, and colleagues, we are also each mysteries to one another. Most people would agree that others are to some degree a mystery to them which is also another way of realizing just how subjective we each are. Even when we share what appears to be the exact same experience, like sharing a meal, for example, it is not the same. What we call objective reality is, in fact, a mutually subjective experience shared. In other words, the notion of objectivity, pure and absolute objectivity is an illusion.
So, every experience we have which amounts to our life as a whole is a subjective journey. Even the so-called facts cannot be considered to hold absolute value. We each interpret ‘the facts’ from our own subjective experience, need, value and so on. In as much as the facts hold any genuine meaning to a person or even a group of people, even a large numbers of people, they have no real value. Libraries contain knowledge and facts that few people are aware of. Books by the thousands are discarded on a daily basis. The point is that from the standpoint of our personal experiences, interpretations, goals and interests and so on, the facts are relative. So, with most things the question boils down to, what does it mean to you?
Since the deeper meaning, value and purpose of things, events, and circumstances in the world are ultimately personal in the importance, the focus turns back to who we are how we feel about ourselves and our experiences. Whatever another person’s experience is, it is not your own and no matter what you do, you cannot have that or their experience. This is perhaps the most important fact of all. What this amounts to is how you feel about yourself and your own, personal journey. This constitutes your truth, and it invariably manifests as your reality, your own, personal, subjective reality. You cannot live anyone else’s life and they cannot live yours. Therefore, what is of utmost importance is that you exercise self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance may be described as a sort of surrender. However, within the scope of self-acceptance is a state of reality. With self-acceptance, we can gain liberation from comparing ourselves to others, jealousy, envy, self-negation, negative self-criticism, self-recrimination and so on. Wishful thinking, illusions and delusions of grandeur and/or states of depression, anger, and sorrow that arise from thinking, wishing and hoping that we were someone else quickly dissipate. Thus the potential realms of inner conflict are replaced with a state of peace. As well, self-acceptance helps us to focus more clearly and fully upon what is true, real and important to us. Self-acceptance can thereby also prove to be a very practical, realistic and empowering state of mind which strengthens our resolve to live our own life and to persevere with our goals and dreams and to flow with the natural rhythms and currents of our life.
We all have gifts and talents and we have experienced and do things acquiring skill and ability. In addition, it is natural that we learn, grow, evolve, develop, cultivate, refine, improve and generally progress over time. These factors are true even amidst hardship and setbacks. It is also commonly true that we give, support, inspire, provide, nurture, help, assist, collaborate and cooperate and so on with people and the circumstances and realities of our life on a daily basis. Yet, how often do you actually take a moment to offer to yourself some self-acknowledgement?
If you talk with people and ask them if they do and if so how often do they acknowledge themselves. You will discover that many people do not ever and perhaps never have. The consequence of overlooking and failing to acknowledge yourself is often a subtle yet sure lingering state of depression. The degree of this depressive state may not be high but, if examined closely enough, it will probably be there. What is worse is that when we fail to acknowledge ourselves which includes the simple recognition that we exist at all, but more specifically for all we do for others; we develop a whole network or negative emotional states.
Cynicism, sarcasm, negative criticism, general discontent and again various degrees and levels of depression and by extension feelings of fatigue and apathy are the common results. These states can be interpreted as reactions to a sense of feeling empty. Some have described it as a state of ‘hunger’. Not physical but psychological and emotional hunger that is the result of deprivation is the distinction here.
Even if others acknowledge us and even give us compliments and accolade, we may experience that something is missing. As well, it is common to become dependent on gaining the recognition and acknowledgment we feel we want and deserve from others. When this occurs we suffer. The lower self, the ego mind suffers because it has become dependent and needy upon the acknowledgment of others. At worst, when this does not occur we may become despondent, angry, righteous, manipulative and in some cases even violent.
Some may interpret such an act as self-acknowledgement as some kind of self-congratulatory ego trip. Yet, it is quite the opposite. It is not about being boastful or proud and having to prove or demonstrate to anyone else what you have done, or why you deserve to get or to pay tribute yourself. Rather, it is a simple and quiet mode of reminding yourself that you do make sincere efforts and you do make a difference in people’s lives. In making this effort, you will free yourself from wanting and needing others to acknowledge you and thereby become needy, expectant, disappointed or frustrated when they do not.
Self-acknowledgement, therefore, is not only a gift we give to ourselves, a gift that serves to keep us healthy and balanced and at peace with our self and our life, it is also a key to harmony, balance and general fulfillment in our relationships with others. So, take moment on a more regular basis to reflect upon who and how you are and what you do that has any kind of positive effect and influence upon others and acknowledge your self.
It may be said that respect for oneself or from others is earned. While this perspective has a lot of merits, it is also true to say that if we deepen our awareness of who and what we are, as spiritual beings having human experiences, then we would more quickly and easily experience the rewards of self-respect. It may even be said that since you are here or alive at all you must have earned it. Of course, not everyone appreciates the spiritual appreciation that life is conscious and is therefore woven with meaning, purpose, intent and inherent value. It also remains true that our ability to experience genuine feelings of self-respect is earned.
What we do and what others think about us is how we commonly associated with feelings of self-respect. This is natural and healthy. Yet as with the notion that it takes money to make money, it is also true that to earn the respect of others we need, to begin with, feelings of respect for our self. Among the principle criteria that people hold regarding whether we demonstrate whether we do or do not respect ourselves is linked to how well we take care of ourselves.
Hygiene and grooming are among the more common outer expressions of self-respect. However, these can also be a mask, disguise or façade for what might otherwise be low-self-regard. Thus, while outer appearances and hygiene certainly qualify as aspects of an overall state and quality of self-respect, they may fall short of the mark and in fact, produce a false image.
Guilt and shame are states of emotion that challenge our ability to feel a healthy and genuine state of self-respect. These represent the inner story. The reasons why we experience such complex feelings about our self are many and deep. It has a lot to do with the deeper complexities of our own character. However, they just as often if not more frequently reflect states experienced based on what we know and at least interpret to be right and wrong yet which we do not live up to. While potentially destructive, feelings of guilt and shame at least indicate that we have a conscience. Thus in the most positive respect, our ability to feel guilt and shame and especially our desire, will intention and especially our literal choices we make and actions we take to overcome these states are features of a healthy state of self-respect.
Self-respect may be accurately regarded as the clasp on the chain regarding the 5 keys to improving the relationship with you and your life that has been listed and expanded upon above. In other words, self-respect can be seen to be the first step to take. Healthy self-respect could certainly support us to learn to appreciate and integrate the healing and balancing states associated with self-love, self-like, self-acceptance and self-acknowledgement. As well, if we begin with self-love and go on to become aware of and incorporate the benefits and virtues of self-like, self-acceptance and self-acknowledgment, we can more easily, genuinely and successfully integrate deep feelings and states of self-respect.