Low self-esteem and relationships - part 3
Anyone can suffer from low self esteem. Regardless of how great your childhood may have been, there may be some experiences that could impact your esteem, such as:
- Divorce/relationship issues
- Death of a loved one,
- Life threatening illnesses
- Failing an exam
- Financial crisis
- Housing issues
- Family break down
- Stress or depression
- Dealing with challenging issues within the work place.
All of the above issues could affect anyone. However, people that have ongoing issues associated with low self esteem are mostly individuals from dysfunctional homes, who have been emotionally deprived based on what these individuals have witnessed. These experiences include being sexually, emotionally or physically abused.
There are also incidents where one or both parents may have been polygamous, experienced poverty, suffered with drugs/alcohol abuse, been emotionally unavailable or have had mental health issues.
The sad thing about life is that when babies are born, they are not programmed to dislike themselves; they love everything about who they are, until negative things about them are brought to their attention, particularly when the reflection that their parents projects are negative. Consequently, they will have a negative view of themselves, as babies see themselves as their parents see them. Parents are like a mirror as babies are born with no self identity.
That is why it is very important for parents to love and help build their child's esteem. If you often hear that you are bad, ugly, dumb, will amount to nothing or that you are useless, then that will be how you perceive yourself and you will surely believe what you have been told by your parents.
Unfortunately, low self esteem becomes more apparent within inter-mate relationships than any other area of a person’s life. People with low esteem can appear confident in their appearance, by the way they speak, class, position within their career and how well they carry out their duties at work. Deep down however, they have a negative view of themselves.
When your esteem is low you choose partners that are mostly emotionally unavailable or dislike men or women that treat you well. As you are so used to being treated badly, you subconsciously attract partners that reinforce the negative emotions from your childhood. For example picking partners that are emotionally damaged so you can fix them; partners that are overly selfish so work hard for love by putting them as the main focus within the relationship; partners that continuously cause you emotional pain, to keep you more insecure, anxious and paranoid; partners that will abandon you if you have issues with fear of abandonment; partners that have fear of commitment or intimacy, so they can love you from a distance.
How to overcome low self esteem
Self love is important and is the most useful way that you can have more satisfying and fulfilling relationships. When you learn to love yourself, you’re more equipped to give and receive love. After all, you cannot give the best of yourself to others until you give your best to yourself first. This is called being self nurturing, not selfish. Most people always put everyone else before themselves. When you act in this way, you will always be secondary within relationships, in addition to being drained and not having much to give to yourself. Make yourself a priority and create some 'me time' to recharge yourself.
It is essential to be aware and accept who you are as an individual (the good, the bad and the ugly). It is impossible to make the change that you want unless you know that have the problem in the first place. There is nothing worse than living in denial.
Take time to understand yourself
The more you understand yourself, the more you will discover the root cause of the low self esteem. Once you realise the root cause, take responsibility to work on yourself and forgive people that have contributed to your low self concept, such as your parents. It’s not emotionally healthy to blame people - doing so can make you a victim and you could become emotionally bitter. Instead, learn to take control of your life and give yourself the love that you didn’t receive from your childhood.
Evaluate your relationships
Ensure that you are not giving too much within your relationships and receiving very little back. A relationship should be reciprocal. When you often give too much to another person, they lose respect for you, so if you want others to respect you then start by respecting yourself. If you don’t, then you can’t expect others to do the same.
Learn to forgive
Forgiving others helps you to let go of the emotional pain which you may be carrying around. When you hold on to the pain that others have caused you, particularly your parents, you are more likely to be subconsciously drawn to a partner that has similar characteristics as your parents. Consequently, your negative experiences will be constantly repeated from an emotional level. If you find it difficult to speak to the person that has hurt you, you can always write a letter but don’t send it. Just bin it or burn once you have written it.
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About Kate Megase
I am a counsellor, coach and motivational speaker. I specialise in issues associated with relationships, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.