When Low Self-Esteem Hurts Your Love Life

When Low Self-Esteem Hurts Your Love Life

Everyone feels insecure at certain moments in their life, especially their love life. Whether it be an awkward crush like many of us go through in middle school, your first kiss, first real love, or a spouse who did everything right and swept you off of your feet. The feelings that surround these moments can feel so overwhelming, that we feel small by comparison. But for some, self-esteem is a sustained, ongoing, even lifelong struggle. A relationship is best when it is engaged in by two equal partners. If one person is constantly struggling with self-esteem issues, though it may feel like a personal problem, it is affecting your relationship in a myriad of ways. When you have low self-esteem you have a hard time believing your partner when they pay you a compliment. This lack of appreciation can hurt them, putting space between the two of you. Those with low self-esteem have trouble setting boundaries. Everyone crosses a line once in a while. But without the ability to say something, your partner can walk all over you, and all you can do is wear a shirt that says, “Welcome.” Those with self-esteem issues do not know how to ask for what they want in a relationship. They fear their desires will be met with disapproval. So they never get what they want, leading to a secret little pit of hell, an inner cubby hole of frustration as one can never feel comfortable expressing themselves truly to the person they love most.

Do you hold back from engaging in open and honest dialogue with your partner? According to a study out of the University of Waterloo in Canada, this can be viewed as aloofness on the part of your beloved. It makes them think you do not care. But what is actually going on, you hold back because you are afraid of becoming vulnerable, of driving the person away, or of getting hurt. The author of this study Megan McCarthy, said that the partner with low self-esteem is resistant to address problems in the relationship. But in doing so, things cannot develop or progress. The relationship becomes stagnant until it no longer ceases to be. Those with low self-esteem believe that if they do speak up about problems, they will be rejected by their partner. But this causes them dissatisfaction. What researchers suggest is interpersonal communication. Work on telling your partner little problems or small wishes and wants that you have. When they fulfill them, be happy and reflect on it. Then work toward bigger problems or desires. On another front, work on yourself. Improving your self-esteem can only help to improve your relationship. You are indeed half of it. So what can you do to build up your self-esteem?

Look back your accomplishments. Celebrate them. What have you done, and what positive personality traits do you embody that these accomplishments signify? What skills did you have to use to get there? Set slightly higher goals for yourself and work toward reaching them. Celebrate after each one. Smile more. Just the act of smiling can make you feel brighter. And people respond to you when you are smiling. It makes you seem more attractive and more confident. Positive interactions with people will help further your self-esteem journey. Talk to trusted friends and confidants, and let them know about your struggles. Ask their unadulterated opinion of you and any advice they may have. Usually, those close to us will say nice things and make us feel good. But they can also offer some fresh perspective which you may be in need of. Surround yourself with those who support and uplift you. If you have people in your life who are pessimistic, always critical, who disrespect you or tear you down, get rid of them, or if you have to see them, severely limit the time you spend with them. They can only hamper your efforts. Be positive and find things to be positive about. People love enthusiasm. If you can dig deep and find it, you can attract more people to you. Their desire to be around you will help you to feel confident. Lastly, try and get some exercise. The feel good, natural chemicals it releases will give you a boost that others and even your baby will notice and it will make them feel good, basking in the energy you radiate.

For more pick up a copy of, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff.

How Your Self-Esteem affects your Relationships

SELF-ESTEEM

How Your Self-Esteem affects your Relationships

Do you stand up for yourself in relationships? If you don’t establish boundaries no matter how nice the person you are dating is, they will cross them. The truth is that relationships take both people sacrificing and contributing time, energy, patience and love for it to work. Here is how your self-esteem affects your relationships, though you might not be aware of when or how.

First, let’s define self-esteem. This is how you feel about yourself. Do you have a positive or negative self-image? What is your self-worth like? Some people think they’re worth a billion just for smiling. Others feel their utterly worthless. Most of us fall somewhere in between this spectrum. Self-esteem should not be confused with the ego which is the deciphering of your self-importance, helping you to realize how unique and extraordinary you really are. If you have low self-esteem you are liable to think you are lucky to have your partner. But they are just as lucky to have you. You will spend all of your time catering to their needs and fail to speak up for your own needs. It will be all give and zero take. You might expect your lover to know what you want and feel disappointed when they can’t read your mind and suddenly make your desire reality.

But this isn’t living in reality. After a while pent up anger, frustration and resentment will be pointed at your lover. You will be driving away the very person you want in your life. Or else you will be the perpetual servant waiting on your lover without receiving your fair share in return. Find ways to pump up your self-esteem. Start dressing how you want others to perceive you. Believe in yourself. Outline your dreams and ways to make them a reality. Celebrate each small accomplishment and watch your self-esteem grow. Write down five things you love about yourself and refer back and reflect on those things often. Ask your lover, friends and relatives to tell you what they love about you. Write down your skills. Think about how you can use those skills to better your station in life.

Perhaps go back to school, assert yourself and ask for a raise, or quit your job and do a year volunteering in Africa. In your relationship, show parameters. Ask to get your needs met. Be polite but direct. Be patient. Show the person and tell them. If they can’t take part in an equal exchange of power and care get rid of them. Know how to establish and assert yourself or else you’ll be taken advantage of in love and all aspects of life. For more advice read, Self Confidence NOW: Proven Strategies to Instantly Improve Your Self Confidence & Boost Your Self Esteem by William Wyatt.

How Men Nonverbally Dominate

couple-sitting

How Men Nonverbally Dominate

A power dynamic is how power exists in a relationship. Does one partner have more power than the other? Does one have all the power? Or do they share power? Power dynamics shape love. They either allow a place for it to grow and develop or they choke it. The power dynamic that is the healthiest and aids relationships is when both partners share in the power equally. You can see a power dynamic at work by examining who interrupts the other, who talks over the other, who makes final decisions, who punishes, who generally wins fights and so on. Men and women utilize and respond to verbal and nonverbal cues in different ways.

Of course either sex can be domineering in a relationship. However, men are the ones who traditionally dominate heterosexual relationships. Men control women either consciously or subconsciously using certain verbal and nonverbal cues. For instance, personal space tends to be different in each sex. Men have a bubble of personal space around them. Others penetrate this to cause discomfort, get closer or create arousal. Women have smaller personal space bubbles. And men tend to invade a woman’s personal space more often in the hope of persuading or controlling her.

In terms of posture, men tend to use more open, expansive forms. Therefore they need more space. This taking up of space is deciphered as dominance. Women are more constricted because they tend to take up less space. If you notice how men and women cross their legs, it displays clearly this phenomenon. Men tend to cross their legs with one ankle on top of their knee or thigh, taking up lots of space. Women however cross their legs at the knee taking up far less space. Expansive positions communicate dominance. Constricted positions tell of submission. The latest research shows that incorporating more expansive body language increases one’s confidence and self-esteem. If you notice the mode of dress, a man’s dress portrays power, a woman’s submissiveness. Women have to cross their legs in skirts, ergo communicating submissiveness outright. Women also carry things in a handbag or purse, which also communicates submission while men carry things in their pockets.

Touch is another way men subconsciously dominate women. Research shows that men who aren’t romantically involved touch women more often as a way of dominating them. This is true of dominant personalities too. They tend to touch in order to dominate; someone that puts their hand on your arm to make sure you are paying attention to their point, for example. Men who care about taking part in a blissful, well-adjusted long term relationship should be aware of what nonverbal cues they are sending their female counterparts, and make sure not to dominate, but to allow her an equal share of the power. To learn more about dominance in relationships read, Intimacy and Power: The Dynamics of Personal Relationships in Modern Society by Derek Layder.

A Happy Marriage is a Choice

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A Happy Marriage is a Choice

Marriage has its ups and downs. Sometimes you’re jiving and sometimes you’re bickering. There are times when you can’t get enough of each other. And other times when you can’t wait until they leave the house. There are people in sexless marriages, people just sticking it out for the kids, and people absolutely miserable but feel as if they are cornered. The truth is that a happy marriage is a choice. Though things could have turned out bad, they didn’t start out that way or you wouldn’t have gotten married to begin with.

First, you have to realize that happiness comes from within. Sure, we all have needs and some of them we can fulfil ourselves, others we need from our partner. But no matter what happens in life, you choose your perspective. You choose how to react to it. So happiness is all a matter of outlook. You decide one minute to the next whether to focus on your spouse’s good points or their less than stellar qualities. You decide whether to own your happiness, or unhappiness, or to export these to your spouse. So decide to be happy. Don’t focus on the flaws. If they are insignificant or something you can come to terms with do so. If not, then rethink your marriage.

Find ways to negotiate. Agree to disagree on little things. Trust your partner to handle things and don’t give them the third degree to see if they did so to your specifications. Make time for each other, even if it’s just a little each day. Choose to consistently put forth the effort and invest time and care in your relationship. Choose to make you your best self and to encourage your spouse to be their best self. Be friends and lovers at the same time. Friends enjoy each other’s company, laugh together and do things together. You should too. Laughter is one of the most essential things. If you can laugh together, really laugh and have fun, you are golden. If you are merely trading sarcastic barbs across the coffee table, you’re doomed.

Remember that your spouse is not your adversary. They are your teammate. They are on your side. And if it gets to the point where it starts to feel adversarial, remind them. And remind yourself if you stray too far off too. Remember that real happiness is centered inside you. It is a long term process, not a short term elation. It takes time, practice and effort. No one can make you happy. You can only do it yourself. Choose to be happy. Choose to make your mate happy. And choose to let them make you happy too. For more advice read, 47 Little Love Boosters for a Happy Marriage: Connect and Instantly Deepen Your Bond No Matter How Busy You Are by Marko Petkovic, M.Sc.

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

Sad-Woman

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

There are those relationships that you are relieved are over, even if it took a year to finally get rid of them. Then there are those that rip a hole in your chest and mash your heart into guacamole. Nothing is more painful. A recent study using brain imaging had participants who had recently broken up with someone look at a picture of their ex while hooked up to an FMRI. They found that the parts of the brain that lit up fit the pattern of enduring physical pain. So a breakup literally hurts. Trouble is, when we endure physical pain it goes away relatively quickly. Depending upon the relationship, you and the circumstances, you could endure the pain of heartbreak for weeks, even months. One reason that heartache lingers so is that people fall into certain psychological habits that inhibit healing rather than lessening the pain. Unfortunately, feelings of anger, sadness, rejection and loneliness can be compounded by impulses that feel perfectly natural to indulge. We often consider negative habits we have in our diet, when we exercise, sleep and other physical aspects. But we avoid or disregard poor mental habits that can shackle us to anguish rather than liberating our hearts from pain. Here are some bad mental habits to avoid after a breakup.

A lot of us sub-vocalize negative thoughts or feelings. Inside our head we repeat to ourselves our inadequacies, play over and over mistakes we made, hurtful names or phrases we or our former lover uttered and more. This constant rerunning of negative thoughts may be particularly poignant after feeling rejected or if the relationship ended through some fault of our own. When the ego is bruised and one’s self-esteem has taken a blow, such self-talk will make things worse. Instead, catch yourself when you get into this pattern and replace negative phrases for positive ones. Show yourself some compassion. Think of yourself as a friend trying to get someone through this. What would you do? What would you say? How can you put things in perspective? Brooding over mistakes you’ve made can lead to the same result. Contemplating them and learning from them in an emotionally unattached manner is one thing. But dwelling and obsessing over them is like tearing out your stitches after heart surgery. Isolate those instances where you blundered, learn from them and move on, or else you will be hindering instead of facilitating your own emotional recovery.

Don’t throw yourself into dating if your heart is still aching and you are pining away for your former love. But if you just feel too vulnerable or just scared, you may be missing an opportunity to move healing along, and a way to repair your ego and boost your self-esteem. A couple of months without dating is okay. Six months to a year is a little obsessive. Some people even benefit from a rebound relationship, while others don’t. Find what’s right for you but don’t be too cautious with your heart or you may lose out on a chance at finding love or rebuilding your self-image. Some people cut off everyone, stop taking part in activities they enjoy and wallow in self-pity. Instead, connect and reconnect with hobbies, friends, family members and more. Sure, the first few days you may want to sit on the couch and watch comedies, polish off a crate of sinful snacks and curse the happy couples of the world. But afterward, isolation and keeping yourself from the things you love will only make it worse. Lastly, remember the point is to get over the person and move on with your life. Don’t keep them in your newsfeed on your social media pages. Get rid of all the mementos or put them in a box in the closet or the trash. The fewer reminders you have around the quicker your recovery will be. For more on embracing positive mental habits and avoiding negative ones after heartache read, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch, Ph.D.