We all have the capacity to love, and we don’t even need to love ourselves well in order to love another. But love alone does not sustain a healthy relationship. As a Relationship Therapist, I specialize in helping people improve their romantic relationships. Being a research-based practice, I offer my clients the latest information and cutting-edge tools they need to create satisfying lives and relationships.
A frequent barrier to a fulfilling relationship involves limited self-worth – whether you don’t like yourself, think you don’t have anything to offer, or you’ve gotten into the rut of focusing more on the negatives than the positives. Have you ever had one of these common beliefs?
“This is too easy. How can this nice person like me?”
“I’m not worthy of him. He is too good for me.”
“When she finds out the ‘real’ me, she’ll break up with me so I might as well do it first.”
Consequences of such beliefs include:
1. Self-sabotaging behaviors. You may start to pick fights and nitpick on the negatives. You may look for “proof” that this person would never work out anyway.
2. Breaking up with your partner. If you believe something is “too good to be true” or you believe it’s inevitable your partner will break up with you, you may end the relationship first so it’s on your terms.
3. Dismissing the “nice” people to pursue the emotionally unavailable ones. Although there is some truth to wanting what we can’t have, going after an emotionally unavailable person may reinforce, in your mind, that you are not worthy or good enough.
Research supports if you expect to be treated well you will; if you don’t, you won’t. You are much more likely to put up with disrespect and poor treatment if you think you don’t deserve any better. Most men and women are attracted to partners who are self-confident and happy, so it’s important to like yourself and value your worth.
Here are four tips to increasing your self-worth and improving your chances of achieving relationship happiness:
1. Lighten up – and practice acceptance. Although you don’t have to be Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live, lighten up. No one is perfect and let’s face it – we goof up, sometimes a lot. Catch your negative thinking and tell your inner critic to shut up. Accept that mistakes will be made, and be gentle when you do slip up and learn from the experiences.
2. Create a short list of barriers. What gets in the way of your happiness and confidence? Keep the list short, preferably no more than 5 items, to avoid feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. You may also ask a trusted friend to look over your list to make sure you are realistic in your expectations.
3. Get it done - make an action plan. Pick one barrier from your list and make an action plan to overcome it. Make sure your goals are realistic and measurable to chart your progress.
4. Boost the confidence you do have. Do more of what you already excel at and enjoy. Focus on a trait that you do like about yourself and do the things that bring you pleasure.
Being the kind of person that you want to attract is in your control and a great way to kick off a healthy relationship!
This blog was contributed by Relationship Reality 312, Inc. therapist, Anita Chlipala, MA, MEd, LMFT
. For more information, please visit her website at www.relationshipreality312.com