Self-esteem in relationships
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Kate Megase MBACP, Registered, Accredited Psychotherapist & Clinical Supervisor
12th August, 20170 Comments
What is the meaning of self-esteem? Self-esteem defines how you treat yourself, what you think of yourself and the relationship that you have with yourself. A person can be confident but still have low self-esteem, as they outwardly appear confident. This could be based on external factors including:
appearance, marital status, class, occupation, etc. But inwardly they feel terrible. We all wear a mask, as we have certain aspects of ourselves that we do not want others to see or know.
You can fool people, but you certainly can not fool yourself. When you begin to fool yourself, then you are living in denial. Living in denial can be a painful process as you struggle to accept the reality or truth about yourself or the situation that you are in.
Self-acceptance is the most powerful experience you can gain. To truly love yourself, it is important to accept everything about who you are as a person, including the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, no one is perfect. People with low self-esteem, often do not respect themselves and they consistently attract spouses that disrespect them. They put up with unreasonable behaviours including; cheating, domestic violence, serial liars, emotional abuse and highly selfish partners.
These individuals have a strong desire to be loved, so they often attract spouses that do not love them the way that they deserved to be loved. Consequently, reinforcing any negative experiences from their childhood. This makes a person live in constant fear of the worst outcome, which reinforces more negativity within intimate relationship experiences.
It is always best to have good relationships with yourself before committing to a serious relationship. After all, how will your potential spouse understand you if you do not understand yourself?
Building your esteem within relationships
- Learn to respect yourself.
Self-respect is key within all your relationships. The reality in life is that you will meet people who genuinely do not like or respect you the way that you should be treated. However, you have a choice not to accept unreasonable behaviour. If you put up with people constantly disrespecting you, then these individuals may feel that it is OK. If you do not like how you are spoken to or treated, then speak up.
- Avoid people pleasing.
Repeatedly pleasing others in order for them to like or love you is emotionally draining and never works. You subconsciously give your power away and this could make you feel worthless. People have to like or love you for who you are. If you feel that you need to please others for love then, it is time for you to give yourself what you want from others, (love, reassurance and happiness) so you can break the cycle.
- Learn from previous mistakes.
Life is like a school and our experiences teach us a lot about ourselves. Always learn something positive from your mistakes, these mistakes help you to do things better next time. So, instead of being hard on yourself because of mistakes that you have made or living in regret, learn something valuable about yourself.
- Never allow another person to control you.
When you allow people to control you, you are actually giving them your power. Set boundaries within all your relationships. Controlling people are normally not in control and only want to feel like they are in control.
- Analyse the type of spouses you attract.
You often attract people that are very similar to your character and the type men or women that you attract is a reflection of where you are at emotionally. For instance, co-dependents attract narcissistic mates and victims always attract perpetrators. Find out the patterns of the type of spouses have been attracted to. Make a list of the characteristics and consciously try and make better decisions when choosing your potential mate.
- Explore your relationships.
Are you often giving more to your relationships than what you always receive? If so, ask yourself why do you give so much and yet get so little back. It is good to give but if you are the only one always giving, you became a "doormat", so learn to get the balance right.
- Create a happy list.
Make a list of all the things that you enjoy doing, that makes you happy and ensure that you do them as often as possible to make yourself happy, whether or not you are in a relationship.
- Learn to conquer your fears.
Everyone is afraid of something, that is the reality of life. However, living in constant fear could leave you feeling stuck, and allow life to pass you by. Life is a risk and the more you take healthy risks that are not self-sabotaging impacts your esteem. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
About the author
I am a counsellor, coach and motivational speaker. I specialise in issues associated with relationships, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
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