Do you feel like you don’t have the relationships you want in life but don’t know where to start building them? Here, we discuss how to create a solid foundation for any relationship by first connecting with yourself.
Do you feel like you want more meaningful relationships in your life? Even when you’re surrounded by other people, do you still feel alone? Maybe you have no idea how to even start finding deeper connections. You feel isolated no matter what you try.
The older I get, the more I hear about how difficult it is to make friends or find new connections as an adult. But this doesn’t have to be true. In fact, the more I open myself up to the possibility of making a connection wherever I go, the more I meet people who also want meaningful relationships.
But it wasn’t always like this for me. It wasn’t until I realized I was missing a connection with myself that I understood where I was lacking in my connections with others. So now, before I start any new relationship, I make sure I am clear on who I am and what I want.
Here, we’ll look at why your connection with yourself is the first step in starting any relationship and how you can begin to connect with yourself if you don’t know where to start.
Finding meaningful connections used to be challenging for me. I would have one or two close friends, but that was about it. As a kid, if I had a birthday party, it would be a small gathering with my family (the obligatory attendees) and maybe a couple of friends. My brother, on the other hand, would always have to have outdoor parties with no guest limit because his invite list was so long. There was one year he had about 50 friends in attendance for his birthday. Everyone wanted to come to my brother’s parties.
My brother was unashamedly himself when we were growing up. And the people around him loved him for who he was. But I struggled with knowing myself. And this meant I didn’t know how to present myself to others. I would morph into whoever I thought someone wanted me to be.
This behavior largely stemmed from feeling not good enough. I thought if I showed the world who I really was, I would be rejected for it. And this would reinforce the feeling I had that I wasn’t good enough. It was a loop I created for myself that kept me separated from others - and also myself. I was so scared to be myself that it took me decades of my life to even start to realize I didn’t know who I was at all.
And yet, I desperately wanted to connect with other people. But, because I hadn’t done the work of figuring out who I was and what I wanted, it felt like something was missing in these connections. I had a lot of friends in law school but the relationships were built situationally - not from a genuine place.
When I stopped going to the same parties week after week, I looked around and there were only a few people still in my life. Knowing who you are and what you want creates a stable foundation for a relationship. But, because I didn’t know myself or what I wanted, the relationships I was building weren’t strong. So they didn’t last beyond the superficial constraints from which they were formed.
However, after law school, I started to learn more and more about myself. I made a conscious effort to dive into who I was as a person - beyond the identity I crafted for myself based on the expectations of others. And I started to get bolder about showing who I was to the world. The more I expressed who I really was, the more I found people wanting to connect with me - for no reason other than they appreciated me for who I was.
There were people I ended up connecting with from law school years after we graduated. We weren’t really friends in school. But, when I started connecting with myself and sharing my authentic self with the world, we realized that we had so much in common. I remember more than one person saying to me, “I wish I knew you were like this while we were in school. We could have been friends this whole time.”
But, because I didn’t have a relationship with myself back then, I couldn’t have shown up in this same way. I couldn’t show others who I really was until I first made a commitment to understand myself and decide who I wanted to be. |
This is why connecting with others starts with connecting with yourself.
So how do you start to connect with yourself?
If you’re like me and maybe aren’t sure of who you are and what you want, doing a self inventory can be a great starting point.
What do you believe to be true about yourself? Do you like this story you have? What do others say about you? Is there a part of you who believes these things to be true? Have you adopted the opinions others have of you as part of your identity?
These questions can help you start to see what you already have to work with. How do you feel about what is showing up for you? You ultimately get to decide who you want to be. So if there is something that is coming up you don’t like, you can change it going forward.
As part of connecting with yourself, decide how you want to show up in the world. What qualities do you want to embody? How do you want others to feel around you?
To help you solidify the identity you want for yourself, start each day by telling yourself out loud what you want to be. This could look like you waking up and saying, “Today, I am confident, kind, and a source of help for others.” Whatever you want to be that day, speak it out loud to yourself. When you speak out loud, your brain doesn’t know that it’s you talking. It just hears sound waves and immediately begins interpreting the data. This is why positive self talk is such an important practice. It might feel silly at first - but it is a powerful way for your brain to start rewiring itself.
This daily practice will remind you each day how important it is to intentionally connect with yourself so that you can then go out in the world and connect with others.
By intentionally choosing who you want to be (and making it part of a daily routine), you’ll be able to show up as your authentic self when you interact with others. And you will then be giving them the opportunity to connect with the real you - not the one you might have been hiding behind a shield.
In The Macklin Method Workshop, the first step you learn to connect with others is that you connect with yourself first. As part of this process, you develop your Stand. Your Stand is what you will and won’t accept from yourself and others. Your Stand keeps you from compromising on your values and reorients you back to yourself when you start to get lost.
What is acceptable to you? What won’t you stand for? Write about what comes to mind so you can return to it when you feel like you’re starting to waiver.By establishing these guidelines for yourself before you start building a connection with someone, you are able to create a relationship from a genuine place. You will be less likely to forsake yourself and what you need and want. And this will allow the relationship to develop deeper roots than it could have if you did not take the time to establish what you want.
When you feel like your relationships are lacking, it is easy to feel alone and isolated. You also might accept any connection that comes your way from a place of loneliness.
Our connections and relationships are fundamental to living a good life. But starting relationships without first connecting with yourself, might leave you just as unsatisfied as you were on your own.
Without that firm knowing of who you are and what you want, you might more easily compromise when building a connection. And this could open you up to disappointment as the relationship continues.
But, when you know who you are, and that who you are is enough, you are able to present an authentic version of yourself to someone else. You’ll know what you will and won’t stand for. So you are connecting from a genuine place.
Instead of masking who you are, you are allowing the other person to see you. And, if someone doesn’t like you for who you are, then they aren’t meant to be a part of your network. The more you are connected to who you are and what you want, the less other people’s opinions of you will influence who you decide to be. And there are so many other people who will want to build connections with you, without you having to shield yourself or compromise on your values.
If this article helped you better understand the importance of connecting with yourself, you might be interested in getting access to our premium content. By filling out the form below you’ll get an email with articles centered around sharing vulnerable, authentic stories to help you start to create the life you want. Let us know in the comment section how often you would like to hear from us and what kind of articles you’re interested in receiving.
If you would like to learn more about being intentional in creating the life you want you can also listen to our podcast. If you’ve been struggling with knowing who you are or connecting with yourself, we recommend episode 34. In this episode, we discuss how you can start to connect with yourself.
And, if you have any questions or comments about what you’re discovering or want to learn more about how you can connect with us, we’d love to chat with you. Use the button below to meet us where you’re at,