Low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness are huge relationship killers. Outsourcing your esteem to your partner almost certainly means the relationship is doomed. There cannot be a good outcome if your sense of worth depends on your partner reflecting it back to you. On the other hand, if each of you has healthy dose of self-confidence you have a much better chance of staying the course. Here are 12 tips on how to improve self-esteem in a relationship.
1. Recognizing that you depend on your lover to boost your confidence is the first step to improving your self-esteem. It’s wonderful to be admired, to receive compliments and feel loved-up, they are the chocolate sprinkles on the mocha of a relationship. However, if you *need* to hear it all the time, you are lacking self-esteem.
2. Monitor your self-talk. Take notice how often you put yourself down, both in your thoughts and around others. Particularly take note if you denigrate yourself in the expectation of reassurance from your partner. This can easily progress in to neediness. Instead of looking to someone else to remove your doubts and fears, take a few minutes to deliberately do it for yourself. Look in a mirror and note all your best features. Make a list of your skills. Think about what makes you unique. Know that you are a special person.
3. Don’t settle for second best. Perhaps you are with your love because they are good-looking and admired by others. You feel that you need to hold onto this god or goddess even though you have discovered their attributes are all superficial. Being with them boosts your self-esteem. This is not an indicator of a loving relationship. Instead it means that you are worried about what other people think of you. It’s a sign of low self-esteem. Ask yourself, is this what you really want?
4. Testing or pushing for a fight is a common way to try to boost self-esteem. If you start an argument and your partner gives in, apologizes, or tells you he loves you, then you feel you have ‘won’. Don’t do it if you value the relationship. Pretty soon they will have enough and you’ll find yourself dumped. Notice if this is a pattern in your life. Drama queens have low self-esteem, so don’t be one.
5. Assert yourself. While starting arguments is not recommended, neither is putting up with an uncomfortable situation. If your partner’s behavior is not acceptable to you, you have every right to tell them so. State your problem clearly and rationally. Don’t get mad. Don’t be accusing; use ‘I feel…’ rather than ‘You did…’
6. Consider if your lack of self-esteem stems from childhood. Was affection lacking? Did you have issues with one or both parents? Did you find it hard to maintain friendships? Picture your younger self and try to reassure her that everything is fine and that she can set aside her fears. Then do the same for yourself in the present. Fear and anxiety are usually the basis of low self-confidence.
7. Investigate some easy therapy techniques. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is something that you can learn to do, and with just a few minutes a day you can make a lot of progress. The spiritual author, Louise Hay, has a book called “Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life”, which is focused on building a healthy relationship with oneself. A side-effect of doing this work is an increased sense of self-worth and an improved self-esteem.
8. Become the captain and navigator of your own life. Don’t rely on others to make your decisions or tell you what to do. Rather than ask your mother or your boyfriend or your best friend, take your next decision by yourself. Even if you make a wrong choice – it was a choice you made on your own, so self-congratulations are in order.
9. Jealousy is an indicator of low self-esteem. You feel suspicious of your significant other because how could he or she possibly love one such as you in the first place? You constantly feel as if they will slip through your fingers so you watch for signs of infidelity. You can’t live like this. It will drive your partner away. Visiting a therapist, either together or on your own may set your mind at ease. Your therapist will be able to suggest strategies to help you deal with your insecurity.
10. Transform your beliefs about yourself. People with low self esteem tend to box themselves in. They continually tell themselves that they are unable to to this, or achieve that because… and they give good reasons why they cannot. This is called ‘arguing for your limitations’. When you catch yourself justifying or arguing for those limitations, stop for a moment and change your dialog to ‘what if?’ What if you could cast aside your self-imposed negative beliefs? What if you could see your limitations as challenges to be overcome? What if you could do this thing that you are so adamant you cannot do? It is better to fail trying than never to try at all. You could surprise yourself.
11. Turn a negative thought into a positive attribute. What is the one overriding negative thought that defines your life? Not beautiful enough? Too fat? Too thin? Not clever? It’s time to change that into a positive. Remember that you are exaggerating the negative. Why not play a game where you tell yourself the opposite. “I am beautiful, I am softly rounded, I am slender, I am intelligent.” When you catch yourself playing the same old tune, turn it around straight away. Laugh at yourself because you caught that negative pattern. Say, “Ah, there you go again…” followed by the positive statement.
12. Become a good listener. Train yourself to listen, really listen to what your partner and close friends are saying. Don’t judge, only listen. When you become a better listener, people will also listen to you. They will want to spend time with you because of the positive energetic feedback they feel in your company. This in turn will make you feel wanted and improve self-esteem. It’s a win/win.