As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are, what others say is irrelevant. Nick Schiff.
I absolutely love this quote because it represents this whole blog. We spend so much time looking out of ourselves seeking approval from others and particularly in marriage, we’re looking out at our partner. We sometimes forget how to seek that in ourselves.
For an empowered marriage it’s for both people to have a really strong sense of themselves. They know who they are, they love themselves, they know how to be there for themselves. They listen to themselves as to what they need and want and how they’re feeling. They value themselves.
The picture you have of yourself. It is the foundation of your ability to believe in yourself and the doorway through which self-esteem is received. Without self-esteem you will have doubts and fears about your actual existence on this planet. Any attempts to improve your self-esteem will be cancelled out and dreams, visions and accomplishments will be overthrown or annulled due to little self-worth. Your partner may encourage and support you but it’s an inside job and it wont matter what your partner says it won’t stick.
How Do You Value Yourself?
Answer the following questions:
- Do you value yourself externally through other people’s approval especially your partners?
- Do you define your worth through your house, car, furniture, job, clothes, friends or money?
- Are you continuously trying to look, perform and do things in the ‘right’ way especially for your partner?
- Do you feel like you’re never content or at peace with yourself, no matter what you accomplish?
A ‘yes’ response to some of these questions can be an indicator that you look externally to feel okay with yourself. In the long-term this doesn’t work.
Where Did This Begin?
We tend to look to our parents for our self-worth/self-esteem during childhood. If you didn’t get the love you needed you may have come to the conclusion that it was your fault and there must be something wrong with you. The wounded self takes over and you lose touch with your core, your authentic self.
As a child you do not recognise that your parents:
- May have been doing the best they could;
- Probably parent in the same that they were parented; and
- Have their own wounds and limitations.
As a result of this childhood you get fixed on defining yourself in relation to how you look and what you achieve so people give you recognition, particularly your partner. But what happens when other people and your partner doesn’t say how great you are? You have become so vulnerable to their disapproval that you may suffer low self-esteem resulting in stress or anxiety.
The Importance of Healing this in your Marriage
If you have low self-worth it is crucial that you heal that wounded part of you. The wounds will keep showing up in different ways if you do not work on this part of yourself. You may feel unworthy, inadequate, unimportant and flawed. These feelings may be triggered by something your partner says or does.
You do not feel any better if you have a big house, flash car and a great job. You cannot hide from low self-worth; it is the picture you have of yourself.
A valid sense of self-worth is necessary in order to attain love, peace, joy, power and a sound mind. It is up to you to actively realise and conquer all that holds you back so you can recognise this. Gaining insight as to why you feel, talk to yourself and think the way you do is fundamental in claiming your self-worth.
How Do You Experience Low Self-Worth in your Marriage?
Low self-worth is experienced differently for each one of us. Feelings such as shame, guilt, empty, embarrassment, feeling like you don’t belong, you feel different.
Here are some examples of what a person with low self-worth may think and say:
- I am not optimistic.
- I do not deserve the best that life has to offer.
- It’s not okay to make mistakes.
- My world is not a beautiful place.
- I cannot say ‘no’ when I want to.
- I am bad at making decisions.
For each of these examples there are underlying beliefs, which are self-sabotaging and bring stress and unhappiness personally and into your marriage. When you live your life through these beliefs you limit yourself and are not able to live the fantastic life and marriage that was intended for you.
Making a Change
You have to make a choice to turn your thoughts around and stop rejecting yourself. Your thinking creates your reality. Keep thinking negative thoughts and you will continue to feel negative. The self-worth examples above can be turned around in the following way:
- I am optimistic.
- I deserve the best that life has to offer.
- It’s okay to make mistakes.
- My world is a beautiful place.
- I can say ‘no’ when I want to.
- I am good at making decisions.
It’s taken a lifetime to build a negative self-image, so you can expect it to take time to replace it with a positive one. Working with a therapist will help you fill more esteem faster which will ripple through to your marriage.
A person with high self-worth…
- Knows they are valuable, useful and of value.
- Can easily give and receive, knowing they are a worthy person.
- Makes the best use of their time achieving what is important to them.
- Knows inwardly that she has done their best, not the best in the eyes of their parents, partner or other people.
- Is expressive, imaginative and able to take risks.
- Is hopeful and positive in life and sees the best in situations.
- Has influence and is able to skilfully support and guide others.
- Is inwardly strong and self-empowered.
- Truthfully displays the opinion and picture they have of themselves.
- Shows the world all of them, without masks or a need to hide.
- Is authentic, real and genuine.
- Takes total responsibility for their life.
- Asks what they can learn from challenging situations
- Asks how they can do better.
- Has a natural interest in the well-being and happiness of people.
- Has the tools to support them through adversity.
- Trusts in their own ability.
- Is enthusiastic and enjoys life.
- Sees life as a venture worth undertaking.
- Never doubts themselves for a moment.
- Is excited by their capabilities and possibilities for the future.
- Listens to her dreams and allows them to awaken into reality.
- Enjoys a purpose-filled life with goals.
- Knows how to create a life that is balanced.
You may recognise yourself in only a few of these statements or in many. Do not be disheartened if many of them seem unachievable for you. The list gives you areas that you can begin to work on straight away. To be in an empowered marriage you must be an empowered individual first.
Tools: For Building Self-Esteem and Empowerment
Creative visualisation is a process that can replace your negative beliefs with positive ones. The goal is to prevent new negative thoughts from entering the subconscious, while removing the ones already present. Creative visualisation takes time and the key is to stay consistent with the practice.
- Find a quiet, safe place where you can sit or lie down uninterrupted for a period of time. You may find it helpful to create a nurturing atmosphere by lighting candles and incense, or putting on some relaxing music.
- Close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths for a few minutes to release stress from your body and mind.
- Visualise your true self; the ‘you’ that is deep down inside. This sends a strong message to yourself that you are worth doing this for.
- See yourself as a strong, beautiful, vital creation of God or the universe, glowing with light, love and happiness. Zoom in on yourself and see yourself in glorious detail.
- Ignore any negative thoughts that enter your head. Simply push them gently aside and know that if you can mentally see and feel them being moved away, you can create it in your physical reality.
- Try to do this exercise at least once a day, preferably twice. As you change the picture of yourself in your head, little by little, some changes will occur within you.
Notice your negative thinking
If you can identify unhelpful thoughts, you have the option of being able to change them. Learn to identify the thoughts that contribute to your negativity and low self-worth. Once you become aware of those thoughts you can challenge them and start to develop new ones.
Use your imagination
Consistently imagining yourself as you want to be will create a new ‘truth’ in your subconscious. As your mind replaces the negative with the positive, you will begin to see the shift in yourself. A new, more confident you will emerge, giving you the courage to succeed at whatever you desire.
Praise, encourage and build yourself up with your thoughts and words. Treat yourself in a kind way filled with support and encouragement. Accept situations for what they are and find what you can learn from them. For example, say to yourself: “I did really well. Good for me.” The more you do this the more you will want to. Just begin, it is a choice.
To have an empowered marriage it’s for both people to make it a priority and put in the energy and time needed. Knowing who you are, valuing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally will ripple through to you be fully open and loving your partner more richly and openly.