This week I’d like to discuss the importance of something that is a part of all of our lives and that is relationships. Now when I say this you are probably conjuring up images of your current or past romantic partner and what experience you had with him or her. This is, however, a very limited view of relationship. Certainly romantic relationships are one type but only one of a myriad of numerous relationships we have at any given time. Let’s dive deeper into this.
Besides your romantic relationship there is the relationships with your family members, with your close friends, work colleagues and acquaintances and the people who you do not regularly interact with but often encounter in your daily routine. This last category could include the gas station attendant, the grocery store clerk or the construction worker directing traffic. We often do not think ourselves as being in relationship with these people but the fact of the matter is that we are, no matter how superficial these relationships may seem.
Then there are our non-personal relationships which include our relationships to our immediate environment, to birds, insects, animals and trees, to nature as a whole, to the earth and to the universe. These are also relationships that we need to nurture even though we may not see them as such. Then there is the most important relationship that we have which is our relationship to ourselves which is often the worst relationship we have.
Why is this? Many of us, because of childhood and adolescent experiences, grow up with a feeling of lack of self-worth and feeling not good enough. This can arise from many sources which include our parents whose expectations we can usually never live up, teachers who may tell us or imply that we’re stupid if we do not perform well on standardized tests which are a poor reflection of true intelligence, love interests who usually eventually leave or reject us early in our lives and society and media as a whole which is always trying to tell us that we need this outfit, that makeup, smoother skin or bigger breasts to feel worthy.
This is important because if we do not have a healthy and loving relationship with ourselves we will not be able to maintain meaningful relationships with our romantic interest, our family, our friends, our peers, nature and the universe. This is painfully obvious by simply observing the world around you. When you hear of someone who physically abuses his or her children it is because they themselves have been abused, have developed a lack of self-worth and need to abuse others to deal with the suffering of their own unresolved trauma. Now this is an extreme example but it is highly relevant in today’s society.
In fact, all the turmoil and chaos that we see in the world today is perpetuated by individuals who themselves have been the victims of trauma with unresolved painful emotions and a lack of self-worth which has led to suffering. Their only way to dealing with this suffering is to inflict it on others which is why we have war, terrorism, mass shootings and other acts of violence. I would even go so far as to say the greatest epidemic the world is facing today is personal lack of self worth leading to the feeling of not being good enough.
All this does is to obscure our true nature which one of pure consciousness, love, joy and peace. In fact, the key to world peace is for a certain percentage of the world’s population to awaken to their true nature which would create a tipping point which would perpetuate a wave of change which would spread globally. However this all begins with you and your relationship to yourself.
So the question arises, how does one cultivate a healthy loving relationship with oneself? It all starts with going within. We spend so much time on the external plane dealing with our work, our families and our activities of daily living and accompanying challenges that arise that we scarcely give any attention to what truly matters. And what is it that truly matters? It is our consciousness.
Our consciousness is the deepest aspect of ourselves which lies beyond our bodies, thoughts, emotions and personal stories. It is the true essence of who we are. In order to get to this place, which I call our true home, we need to go within. This is commonly known as mindfulness or meditation but I call it Inner Flow in my book, ‘Healing From The Inside Out.’ Inner flow is the process of going beyond who we think we are to get to the core of our true essence. In my next blog, I’ll be discussing how we begin to engage in the practice of Inner Flow to cultivate our relationship to ourselves.
Nauman Naeem MD FCCP FRCPC