A Healthy Relationship With Self

13 comments | February 15th, 2012

(story by Carre Otis, a Chestist and author of BeautyDisrupted)

When was the last time you honestly asked yourself, “How do I feel about me?” “How do I see myself?” Simple and obvious? Maybe not so much.

How we feel about ourselves and bodies affects much more than I think we realize. Our self image, confidence and feelings of self worth ricochet out through the universe — and certainly the universe of our daily lives and interactions. Our feelings impact other people, shaping their feelings about us as well as about themselves.

Do you feel happy? Confident? Beautiful? Centered in your place and mission in your workplace? At home? In relationship? With your children? With self and others?

Self-love is the battery that powers every other kind of love.

I believe many of us suffer the effects of living on an autopilot of low self esteem and negativity. We’re shut down, dismissing the very need to be in healthy dialogue with our inner selves.. The relationship with self must be nurtured first before we can expect to experience fulfilling and reciprocated relationships in other areas of our lives. Self-love is the battery that powers every other kind of love.

By inquiring inwardly about the exact nature of the relationship we have with our self we can identify where that nurturing might need to take place. Let me explain what that looks like.

Carré Otis






Me at the height of my anorexia -Photo from Beauty, Disrupted

A decade ago, when I was actively working on recovering from 20 years of anorexia, I began to unravel and understand the exact dialogue I was unconsciously having with myself. I used harsh words of judgement and criticism to cover up the fear and loneliness I was experiencing. I was angry, but I was persevering in my healing process.

One day, after a long session with my therapist, I was at home attempting to prepare a meal. Food preparation was part of my therapy and it invoked fear and dread. I was still convinced food equalled fat and that my body would betray me. As I numbly cut vegetables and watched the clock on my brown rice, I became acutely aware of the discussion that was going on within. “Bad. Fat. Ugly.” The words grew louder. Like a cruel mantra these words encircled me. I was amazed and saddened. Was this really the way I spoke to myself? I picked up the phone to report this discovery to my therapist. I felt like finally the crust of ignorance had been cracked and I finally knew exactly what that unconscious dialogue was.

For the first time, crucially, I experienced true compassion for myself. I felt heartbroken for the woman standing alone in the kitchen. Saddened that anyone, let alone my own self would call her such terrible names. Intellectually, I knew I wasn’t bad or fat or ugly, but those words had played automatically in my head for so long that I believed them almost at my core.

Over the next few months I worked diligently to break this automatic response. My mantra shifted, slowly, to one of love and affirmation. I counteracted the negative every time I caught it and learned to closely monitor my triggers, understanding that any time I felt frightened or alone I tended to go on an abusive inner rant.

Meditating on this carefully and patiently helped to arm me with some basic defenses. Deep breathing and journaling did their healing work. Slowly, and it was slowly, my relationship with myself became one of love, respect and compassion.

It took years of solo work and transformation to see how this inner relationship with self affected every single thing around me, from job opportunities to relationships with friends and lovers.
By taking responsibility for how I felt about myself I was able to transform my relationship with the outside world.

There are some questions that we must ask ourselves. And as hard as the search for the true answers will be, the transformation we experience and the gifts that come from the resulting balance are worth the work. But we can’t leave a single stone unturned. {end story}

(For more from and by the amazing Carre, go here)


  • Sabrina

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    Long ago, I realized no one else could make me happy – only I could. Yes, others could make me happier, feel better, live more richly. True happiness though – could only come from within me.

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  • MCFD

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    I love the memory shared of experiencing true compassion for yourself for the first time. It’s never occurred to me until right now that that is something I’ve never felt. I wonder why?

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    • OOC

      Posted on February 16, 2012

      The answer to that is so personal and individual, MCFD. Our thought on it is that, at least in part, so many of us find a not-so-fine line between compassion for ourselves and feeling we’re being narcissistic. Often, we’re not given the permission to feel good lest it seem like we’re dwelling and reveling in our own goodness. Like that would be a bad thing!

      Whatever the answer is for you…find your way to compassion for you. It can be a bumpy and hard road, but always a good journey.

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  • Drea

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    The words I use with myself, when i catch myself, are so harsh and so unacceptable were I to say them to someone else. Just yesterday, I forgot my office keys after I’d left the house. I mean, I wasn’t more than 2 minutes away when I realized and turned around. What did I Say to myself “you are such a fucking idiot.” It was so harsh and so out of whack with the simple act of forgotten keys it was jarring and made me realize that so much of my internal dialogue is insanely negative.

    It makes me sad and it makes me wonder if I’m not subconsciously living up to my own thoughts.

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  • Chrissy

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    I am inspired.

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  • N.M.

    Posted on February 16, 2012

    “By taking responsibility for how I felt about myself I was able to transform my relationship with the outside world.” I really love this line.

    I can be as guilty as anyone of blaming the world for what troubles me. If the hardest person to love is ourselves, than loving ourselves opens us up to everyone else.

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  • Bri

    Posted on February 16, 2012

    I LOVED your book, Carre!

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  • learning to love myself

    Posted on May 30, 2012

    What a great post. Thank you so much for this. It helped me to realize that a large reason for the funk I’ve been in today is due to the beliefs I have about myself. Guess it’s time to replace the record.

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