Healthy self-esteem is essential for lasting relationships. It enables us to feel worthy of love and respect and to value and communicate our needs and feelings. It’s so important that our self-esteem determines our happiness and the longevity of a relationship. It also is evidence of a secure attachment style. When we have good self-esteem, it can lift the self-esteem of our partner.
Self-esteem is learned. It’s how you think about yourself. Although it’s affected by life events, it’s largely determined in childhood through interactions with our parents. However, we can build our self-esteem and develop self-acceptance and self-love.
Self-esteem, assertiveness, and autonomy go hand-in-hand. Each reinforces the others. Learning to be assertive lifts our self-esteem and vice-versa. Self-esteem is necessary if we’re to feel adequate and comfortable on our own. When we aren’t, we’re too dependent upon others, hide our true feelings, react to things personally and negatively, and have to control or manipulate our loved ones to feel secure and get our needs met. This spells disaster in relationships. Neither partner feels free to be him or herself.
Self-esteem is also the key to intimacy. Without it we become reactive and defensive. This makes it unsafe for both us and our partner to be open and honest. We might not value our feelings and needs, allow abuse, and not feel entitled and courageous enough to reveal them. Instead, we remain unhappy, feel resentment, or might blame or withdraw. Intimacy requires the self-knowledge of self-esteem and the ability to risk being authentic and vulnerable. Learn the ingredients of true intimacy.
You can begin improving your self-esteem immediately by changing the way you relate to yourself. Follow the steps outlined in 10 Steps to Self-Esteem: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism.
Darlene Lancer, MFT – Improve Your Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem with Self-Esteem Counseling in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Culver City, CA, California
©Darlene Lancer 2016