By Kacey Mya Bradley
When you love someone, you learn all the little details… but when we’re single, we often neglect this same step. It’s time to get to know yourself.
Relationships are our favorite double-edged sword. Spending a sizable chunk of your life with a significant other can be one of your most rewarding, exhilarating experiences. But when (or if) that relationship turns sour, nothing is more miserable. And as soon as we get out of a bad relationship, only a few weeks pass until we’re on to the next one.
We may refuse to believe it, but many of us think the best way to solve our problems is to find someone new to love.
It can be obvious or subtle. Our moods improve when someone new walks into our lives. Many of our daily actions become motivation to win the newbie’s heart. We think things will be different with them. Things will be better. Yet further down the line, the breakup happens again.
The truth is, this cycle of relationship is just another pattern that we as humans are drawn to. Without a significant other by our side, we often feel lost or incomplete. But what if there’s a different side to this feeling? What if feeling lost or incomplete is actually normal?
It turns out we tend to ignore a critical step in moving forward from relationships. This step is the whole “figuring yourself out” part. Chances are you spent a pretty decent amount of time getting to know everything about your ex. Now, when they’re long gone, how much do you remember about yourself?
Ponder over a few of these questions:
- What are your long-term and short-term goals?
- Do you feel content in the most important areas of your life? (health, career, networking, etc).
- Do you feel confident in yourself and your abilities?
- What makes you happy?
Questions like these are what you need to ask yourself before you embark on a new relationship.
You may not know the answers yet, and that’s okay. The point is, you have to begin looking inward, loving yourself, before you focus on a relationship. Don’t fill a void with what you think is love. Fill the void with positivity and change—in your mental health, in your career, and your life in general.
There are many steps you can take to loving yourself in a full way and catalyzing positive change in your life. Here are a few suggestions:
- Eat healthier. When you eat clean, you feel better. Your body will also thank you.
- Exercise. This improves both the body and the mind.
- Spend some time alone with your thoughts. Don’t just sit and stare at the ceiling, though. Take yourself on a nature walk, meditate, practice yoga, or just relax and do what you enjoy.
- Sleep more. When you’re tired, you become cranky and your thoughts can easily turn negative. Having enough sleep will give your body the rest it needs and the time to regenerate and get going.
- Practice positive affirmations. These basically build on the notion that you are what you think. Turn your positive thoughts into words and eventually actions. This purifies your thoughts and resets the way you think.
- Vent creatively. Whether it’s music, poetry, dance, painting, or something else, the best art comes from letting go of anger, sadness, or frustration.
- Go on a road trip. The open road can cure many wounds. Grab some friends for a weekend getaway or a day trip adventure.
- Look back on your relationships and assess the damage. As much as it may hurt to reflect on the past, analyzing your relationships can help you in the future. Figure out what worked and didn’t work, so you can watch out for warning signs when the time comes.
When you learn to love yourself, you’ll be amazed when potential lovers just start popping up out of nowhere. That’s the magic of self-love—when you don’t force yourself to find someone and focus on your life instead, falling in love again happens naturally.
And after all, a relationship is two halves that make a whole. Wouldn’t you rather make sure you can sustain yourself before becoming half of something bigger? Be the better half and take care of yourself.