Tag: childhood

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,
  • Unemployment
  • 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 reflections 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 

Love yourself 

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.

Acceptance

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.

 

Self-esteem in relationships

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.

Anxiety and Relationships

Do you often feel anxious, on edge or constantly worrying about anything and everything?

If your answer is yes, then keep reading. Firstly, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. If you find that your natural state is being anxious, then it is more likely that this emotion could be the result of past experiences or even picked up from your childhood.

Children, whose parent/s suffer from anxiety, are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorder. The reason behind this is that babies unconsciously mirror and reflect the moods of their parents. For example, if mum is constantly worried then the baby would pick up on her mood, since babies pick up on what they see and feel. So whatever their environment represents then that’s what will define or contribute to their characteristics.

Consequently, later on in life the child may grow up to being naturally worrisome and fret about things that are trivial, this could further lead to adults entering into relationships that would cause them to be anxious and even if there is nothing to worry about, they may create situations or scenarios in their mind that will make them worried. In addition, they may begin to lose concentration when dealing with day-to-day stuff, such as, work, watching a movie, or even have problems sleeping.

No matter what the reason maybe, you could be addicted to drama, as this may be your natural state and can hinder the relationships by creating a distance between you and your spouse. This experience can be very unhealthy in the long term as it leads to other mental health issues such as panic attacks or anxiety disorder in more extreme cases.

How to stop being anxious in relationships:

1. Let go of controlling others

It is good to come to a realization that the only person that you can control within a relationship is yourself. The fact that you want to control another person indicates that you are not in control of yourself. I appreciate that you don’t want anyone to mistreat you within a relationship and you want to figure out how you can control your spouse. The fact is you can’t, even if you could track his whereabouts every second of the day, you would still feel insecure.

2. Take responsibility for your happiness

In order to a have a more positive relationship, you have to begin to take responsibility for your happiness and invest in yourself.

3. Focus on other areas of your life.

When you make a relationship the center of your universe, you will spend a lot of time thinking about it, in a way that you are subconsciously distracting yourself from yourself. If you cannot focus on work, over analytical, stressing over what your spouse is doing, why he did not call or respond to your messages. This can be very stressful and could make you feel insecure. It is better to focus on other areas of your life, to get the balance.

4. Enjoy your hobbies

The world is a big place and there are so many things that you can you do, including starting a new hobbies or interest. It is also important to learn to enjoy your own company.

5. Let your partner miss you

If your partner knows your every move, you are always predictable, and always available to her/him. Consequently, you could be subconsciously allowing her/him to take you for granted. Let her/him miss you sometimes.

 

Low self-esteem and relationships

Most people who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment and rejection, often attract spouses in relationships who often reinforce the emotions that are associated with these experiences.

These individuals unconsciously work hard in relationships by trying to please their spouse in exchange for attention, recognition, acceptance, and more importantly love. If you have work hard for love, you will continue working hard in need to gain love.

When a person’s esteem is low, they often attract partners who have low self-concept, which keeps the negative cycle going.

Women with low self esteem, are more likely to be drawn to spouses whose character resembles their fathers, particularly if their fathers were abusive, emotionally unavailable, didn’t love them or value them when growing up.

When you put people on a paddle stall, you tend to always look up to them and in response; they will always look down at you.

Sometimes women use make up and clothes to attract the opposite sex, unconsciously in exchange for love. When they don’t get the attention they need, they often wonder if there is something wrong with them.

They may even view sex as love, and have casual relationships in exchange for love.

If your esteem is low, you’re likely to settle for less, and never ask for what you want within relationships.

Low self-concept, demonstrates neediness, desperation and anxiety within relationships, which can be unappealing regardless of how attractive you are.

If you don’t love yourself, why should someone else love what you don’t love?

A person with low self-esteem often puts their spouse’s needs before their own, which could cause to anger and resentment.

Desperate and broken women attract desperate and broken men.

Many people are struggling with issues associated with their childhood and not taking responsibility for the damage, pain, and disappointments that they have experienced when growing up. Some look for others to fix them by jumping from one relationship to the next, only to realise the negative emotions and pain still remains as they unconsciously hold on to blame, pain and unforgiveness from the past.

Sometimes, a person can spend a lot of time being angry and blame others for how they feel. They may feel devalued, as they have valued others more. It is painful, when you don’t receive what you invest in others. However, it is worth taking time to explore the emotions that are hidden behind the anger, which could be: rejection, abandonment or hurt.

When you take the time to dig deeper, you may realise that this anger may have manifested from your childhood and have been buried. Hence, when triggered, you feel rejection, abandonment, pain and hurt.

Over coming low self esteem

You will attract emotionally balanced individuals when you’re balanced and whole within yourself.

It is important to understand your purpose in life and have a vision, this gives you a direction and hope, even when things are not the way you want it in the moment.

Have quality ‘me-time’ on a regular basis, this helps you to connect and nurture yourself.

Read more books, knowledge is power.

Make more positive and supportive friends, who have similar interest to you.

Learn to forgive others, even when it is difficult.

Take care of your self-image.

Find someone you trust to share your problems with, so you can off load.

Take responsibility for your happiness

Do things that you enjoy.

Be your own best friend.

Try new things to come out of your comfort zone.

Utilize your skills and strengths that you have.

Learn positive things in every negative situation

No matter what, never give up.

How fear abandonment affects relationships

Fear of abandonment usually affects people that have been abandoned or neglected by their parents during their childhood either due to death of a parent, a divorce or inadequate physical or emotional care.

These individuals often attract spouses that may reinforce the negative emotions that are associated with this fear, which can often leave a person feeling insecure and anxious within intimate relationships.

When a person has a fear of abandonment, they never feel safe within relationships, and always have thoughts at the back of their mind about their spouse leaving them, or assume that their partner is having an affair, without any objective evidence. This can lead self-sabotaging behaviour and can make an individual feel on edge or anxious.

As a result of this fear, individuals’ works hard for love so they are not abandoned, like their parent/s did when they were growing up.

When confronted with challenges within a relationship and their emotions get triggered, a person may feel like ending the relationship, or hurting the other person before they get hurt. Even within a healthy relationship, you can still think that one day the person will leave you, based on the rejection from your childhood, or if you have had unfaithful partners in your previous relationships.

Women often give too much, by spoiling and trying to prove  to their spouse that they are perfect, so that a person can appreciate them. This behaviour does not work, as it is a form of manipulation. Learn to give your self-unconditional love and what you look for from others.

How counseling can help with fear of abandonment

Acknowledge the fear

It is impossible to resolve any issue if you are unaware of it. In order to overcome fear of abandonment, it is very important to acknowledge, accept and understand the root cause. Whether it is through a loss of a family member who you may not have had a chance to say goodbye or rekindle the relationship; or through a separation from a parent who may have left when you were growing up. In such circumstances, it is possible to have suppressed anger towards that person, which can be unconsciously expressed or triggered within other relationships.  In addition, if fear of abandonment is a result of rejection from parent(s) then counselling can help you to understand the emotional pain that may be associated with your self esteem.

Recognise the emotions that are associated fears of abandonment 

When you have been deeply hurt by abandonment, you may become very needy, constantly seeking attention or needing regular reassurance from others. Consequently, you don’t enjoy your own company and often finds ways to distract yourself from your pain. This could involve the use of alcohol, drugs, sex or excessive time spent watching TV.  Counselling can help you to understand emotions that you find overwhelming and difficult to cope with on your own. This process will help you to have deeper understanding of yourself and recognise your own inner resources, rather than being dependent on others to make you happy.

Take Action

With the help of a counsellor, you can begin to establish the trust, firstly within yourself and others. It will also allow you to have an understanding of emotional triggers, which may be associated with fear of abandonment. Keeping a journal will help you have deeper insights of your thoughts and emotions, which your counsellor will support you to manage. With time, the fear will minimize and counselling will help you to learn to separate the fear from past that may be linked to the present.