Guest Blogger: Healthy Relationships, Beginning with Self

Healthy Relationships, Beginning with Self
by Anita Rothwell Lindsay
“To thine own self be true.” William Shakespeare

Most of us have spent a lifetime nurturing others. Emotionally and often financially, we give it all away. The basis for a healthy relationship with others depends first on a healthy relationship with the self and the development of self-esteem.

According to the about.com Psychology article, What is self Esteem by Kendra Cherry, “In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means that it tends to be stable and enduring. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one’s own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.”

The terms “stable” and “enduring” tend to be misleading, for sometimes we feel good about ourselves, self-accepting, and other times we do not, self-doubting. What each of us could use more of is psychological resiliency to enable us to develop a sense of well-being and self-respect – to feel capable and competent.

Dictionary.com defines resilience as the “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.” We need the ability to handle life’s challenges to provide the confidence, a primary attribute of self-esteem.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Listed below are some strategies to help build self-esteem:
  1. Cancel negative self-talk.  How do you speak to your loved one? What terms of endearment do you pronounce to them? Use the same terms of affection when you speak to yourself. 
  2. Engage Positive Self-talk. Start a journal. Write whatever comes to mind. Analyze your negative statements. Rewrite a few statements to discover the positive elements of a negative situation. (For example, a person is required to work an evening shift of noon until 9 p.m. weekdays. The negative, few evenings for social activities and family. The POSITIVES: She does not have to drive in rush-time traffic, a stressor. She does have three evenings off and has the mornings to run errands or relax.)  
  3. Take time for you-time.  You need head-room to decompress, to evaluate the day, to discover your hidden interests and desires, to create a life road-map. To reach a rewarding destination, you need to know where you are going.  
  4. Learn to listen to your gut.  Have you ever turned onto a street and felt uneasy? Pause throughout the day to listen to what your mind and body say to you. Learn to pay attention. 
  5. Know your limits. Learn to pause and reflect before you say yes to a request for your time. Develop the habit of saying, “Let me get back to you.” List three priorities – goals – and build your day accomplishing these aspirations. Learn to say “no.”  
  6. Leave space during the day for the unexpected interruption. You can allow time to accommodate some requests for your time if you do not overbook each day. Breathing space will give you pause to reflect and lower stress levels. 
  7. Take some risks. List a few things you would like to do and try something new. Take a different road to work and enjoy the scenery changes. 
  8. Recognize and celebrate the fact that the only mind you have the ultimate power to change is yours. Example: Someone cuts you off as you are driving to work. You are furious, justified in feeling so. But, you can choose whether or not to allow them to control your response or disrupt your day. Another example: You greet someone at work and they choose to ignore your greeting. Why should you feel bad about their lack of civility? 
  9. Stop comparing yourself to others. One of the joys of aging is that you can better accept who you are and recognize that you get one chance to be the best “you” that you can possibly become. Someone else will always be more attractive, more popular, and more affluent. If there is something you want, to become the best, then commit to doing something each day toward that goal. In Julie Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, “You do the quantity and let God take care of the quality.” The question is, what are you willing to commit your time to accomplish? 
  10. Save some compassion and empathy for yourself. Acknowledge and celebrate your strengths and qualities. You don’t think you have any? Ask a friend or someone who has known you for some time to help you develop a list. Regularly update your resume to remind yourself of your accomplishments and abilities.   
  11. Be mindful of the company you keep. Either someone is a positive or a negative element in your life. If time spent with a friend is mutually beneficial, that’s a positive. If time spent with a “friend” leaves you feeling ill-at-ease, despondent, or drained, that’s a negative. Seek other friendships. If it’s with negative family members, limit time spent with them. 
  12. Forgive yourself for mistakes.  Evaluate your mistakes, learn from them, then go on with your life. Sounds a bit too simplistic,but if you are honest with yourself and others and your goal is to excel, then you can walk away from misplaced judgment. Example: A woman took on a second part-time job to pay for a new roof. Because she was over-tired and stretched beyond her limits, she sabotaged her full-time position by over-reacting to a dominant co-worker. The positive note of this tale, her next job was more satisfying and rewarding AND she learned to pause to appreciate and recognize her limits.


Obviously, growing up in a toxic home environment or living through a toxic relationship, personal or professional, takes its toll. There is no quick fix to alter the pain and loss of self. The search for self-esteem or the development thereof depends on daily choices and changes. Take a pause occasionally to reflect and you may discover considerable progress and someone you’ve learned to appreciate – yourself.  
 

Books
Aron, Elaine N. The Undervalued Self: Restore Your Love/Power Balance, Transform the Inner Voice That Holds You Back, and Find Your True Self-Worth.
Branden, Nathaniel. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field.
Johnson, Spencer. THE PRESENT: The Gift That Makes You Happy and Successful at Work and in Life. 
Mandell, Faye. Self-Powerment: Towards a New Way of Living
.
Singer, Blair. Little Voice Mastery: How to Win the War Between Your Ears in 30 Seconds or Less and Have an Extraordinary Life!
Smalley, Susan L., PhD. Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness.
Websites
Cherry, Kendra. “What is Self-Esteem?” About.com: Psychology. n.d. 2012.
Goodwin, Tom and Kimberly. “Top 7 Self-Empowerment Tips.” Top7Business. 2001 Jan 15.
Rapini, Mary Jo. “Ten Ways to Heal Your Self-Esteem.” MaryJoRapini.com. 2012.
Marano, Hara Estroff. “Your Trump Card: Self-Love.” Psychology Today. 2002 Nov. 1.
Mathieu,  Ingrid, PhD. “To Thine Own Self Be True: What is your gut telling you?” 2012 Jan 18. Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-sobriety/201201/thine-own-self-be-true
Google Keyword Search: self-worth, self-respect, self-value, self-love, self-esteem, mindfulness, self-esteem and relationships, self-empowerment

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Anita Rothwell Lindsay, Information Specialist, Educator, and Workshop Facilitator, currently employed as a librarian at a local technical institute. Creative design consultant to ShoutOUT® Enterprises, Inc., Chimera Investigative Group, Inc. and Next30 Productions Inc. Contact Anita directly via email: arlindsay@yahoo.com

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