Whether you’ve been going steady with someone special or you’ve been riding solo this winter, RuPaul may have said it best: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” After all, we spend more time with ourselves than anyone else; so it’s best we start investing in the relationship we have with ours truly.
Yes, everyone needs to “treat yourself” from time to time, but retail therapy isn’t always the answer, and it may not be the best way to authentically practice self care. 2020 is the perfect opportunity to think about how we can more fully nurture the relationship we have with ourselves — here are three suggestions for taking your relationship with YOU to the next level.
Develop a Meditation Practice
Meditation can simply be the practice of befriending ourselves. The Tibetan word for meditation is “gom,” which means “to familiarize.” Lodro Rinzler, an expert meditation teacher and author of six books on the topic, suggests that the more time we spend with ourselves and with our breath, the more we don’t have to run from what’s going on in the present moment. And the more we become familiar with who we are — the good, the bad, and the ugly — the more we’ll want to spend time with ourselves and be our own friend. Meditation provides an opportunity for us to notice the voice in our head and say to ourselves, “Oh, it’s okay, this is part of the process,” and then move on. Lodro shares that anxiety is an epidemic in our country, for people of all ages, including children. When we meditate on something like the breath, we can choose not to “chase our thoughts down the rabbit hole,” Lodro says. Instead, we can “train the mind to do something other than chase them.”
As Lodro points out, anyone can meditate, and it’s free. Whether you can turn an entire room into a meditation space, or you’ll need to carve out a small corner of your tiny apartment to set the mood, it’s nice to start by creating an environment that will set you up for success. Countless meditation apps are free — Lodro recommends Ten Percent Happier, Journey LIVE, and MNDFL. There are also plenty of free guided meditations online. If books are more your thing, Lodro suggests Eff This Meditation by Liza Kindred, Tea and Cake with Demons by Adreanna Limbach, and Start Here Now by Susan Piver.
Starting a new practice might feel daunting. While Lodro acknowledges the notion that “every journey starts with one small step,” seems cliche, it’s also true. Like developing any new habit, it can be helpful to pick a consistent time of day to meditate. Make it a part of your getting up routine, or your nighttime routine, and you might be surprised how quickly this new habit takes hold.
In many ways, we think about therapy as a reaction to something that’s gone wrong, says Matt Lundquist, founder of Tribeca Therapy. While there is truth in that, therapy can also be helpful in guiding us through creating the life that we want, and reducing stresses that we may be feeling due to pressure in our careers or our financial lives — two of the most common stressors. Lundquist specializes in therapy with individuals and couples who are discerning their emotional connection with money — how it impacts their decisions, the emotional histories they have with money, and how money may represent love, power, and safety to them.
While therapy can often come at a high financial cost, there are ways to experience therapy without breaking the bank. Lundquist suggests connecting with centers that have post-grad training programs with therapists who are working toward getting fully licensed in a program. Most cities also have group therapy opportunities that are either low-cost or free. While this won’t give you the same 1:1 benefit as individual therapy, it’s an opportunity to encounter new ideas and participate in a community, which Lundquist says contributes to better mental health. “Not all spending decisions are equal,” shares Lundquist, stressing that sometimes it’s better to prioritize things like going to therapy over other non-essential budget items.
Finally, Lundquist reminds us to be picky when choosing a therapist. If you’re at a clinic and you don’t like your therapist, it’s okay to request a new one. It’s also okay to ask more from your therapist. You might tell them in a polite way if something isn’t working or if something feels unhelpful or redundant. Many of us may feel the need to be passive with doctors, but the relationship with a therapist is different — you should always ask for what you need.
Learn Something New, With New People
“It’s too easy to become isolated in our digital world,” says Liz Carroll, Co-founder of Mindful Money Coaches. Carroll says that many women have feelings of loneliness and isolation, and sometimes getting out, learning something new and meeting new people can be just what we need. “Networking while learning is a double win,” shares Carroll, citing classes at a community college or an event at the local art center as good options for getting started. Additionally, local recreation centers frequently offer everything from foreign language classes to painting classes to exercise classes.
READ MORE: Turn Your Hobby Into A Second Income Stream
Of course it’s not always easy to put ourselves out there. Start by making a list of what you might be interested in, and what kind of people you want to meet to help you prioritize. Then sign up for that class, attend that event, or try a new creative practice. So much magic that can happen at the intersection of creativity and community, Carroll says. Get out of your own way, and discover what fuels you.
You’ve already got all the answers, so invest some time in getting to know YOU.
Find more at HerMoney:
- When Self Care Isn’t Enough: How To Shop For The Right Therapist For You
- The Value Of A Mental Health Day And How To Talk To Your Boss About Taking One
- HerMoney Podcast: Meditation With Dan Harris
- A Depression Diagnosis Can Be Hard On Your Wallet. Here’s How To Protect Yourself