Self worth and relationships

Ever find yourself looking to someone else – maybe a love interest – to validate you? Find that your sense of self is deeply tied to how much attention they pay you? Feel buoyed when they notice you and crushed when they seem to lose interest? We’ve all been there. It sucks. It’s exhausting, it’s damaging, and it’s got a lot to do with our sense of self worth. 

When we get rejected, treated poorly, or someone blows hot and cold in a relationship with us, we often become stuck and fixated on that person. We become convinced that we’re in love and we try over and over again to prove ourselves, to show the objects of our affection that we are worthy of their love and attention.

We often don’t recognize that the reason someone isn’t interested in us may have absolutely nothing to do with us at all. We tend to internalize the rejection that it must be because we’ve been seen, evaluated and judged as not good enough and that they are no longer interested.

When this happens, our interest in this person can turn into a fevered obsession and we can go to great lengths to get them to notice us. We may engage in shape shifting behaviours where we stop being ourselves and try to turn into whatever we think they might like best. We will jump through hoop after hoop hoping to demonstrate just how special and unique we are, so that they will change their minds about us.

We don’t focus on whether or not this is a good situation for us. If it’s going to make us happy or that our needs and wants are even being met. All we’re focusing on is this feeling that they don’t want us when we should be focusing on whether we do (or don’t) actually want them, because first and foremost a healthy relationship must have two people that actually want to be in it (and have you ever stopped to wonder that the chances are if you actually had them, you probably wouldn’t want them anyway?)

When we look to others to show us our worth, they are always going to fall short, and so are we. Primarily, because it’s no one else’s job to give us our self-esteem – that’s up to us. Secondly, people are mostly self-interested: they don’t care about how you feel about you – the fact that you are jumping through hoops and treating them like they are the greatest thing since macadamia nut butter (I bant) is a huge ego boost for them, and you gaining self-respect changes the dynamics of the relationship. 

Here’s where it gets weird and can really mess with your brain: when they notice that you have stopped jumping, it doesn’t serve them and they don’t want that, so you may well find that they will deliberately or inadvertently behave in a manner that keeps you stuck and fixated on them.
When we have low self-esteem we have become so comfortable with our own negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves that we will actually seek out people and situations that confirm those beliefs. It’s the devil we know and it feels familiar and like home. We have become so used to the idea that love equals pain and that what we are calling love is actually us seeking validation and begging to have someone show us our worth.

Could it be that if someone healthy did show up in our lives that was interested in us and was offering us the relationship that we claim we want, there’s a chance we would run like hell, because it goes against everything that we believe about ourselves and we would feel incredibly uncomfortable? And that instead we inadvertently seek out people that evoke those feelings of unworthiness in us? 

The problem is when someone can’t make up their mind about us, the price we pay, trying to convince them – or ourselves – that we’re good enough, is our self-esteem. The mere fact that we are going to all this effort proves to them that we actually aren’t worthy, because if we were, we would know our own worth and we would’ve told them to take a hike long ago.

When you engage with a fence sitter, or continue in a relationship with someone that treats you poorly, you will find that there is always another obstacle, another reason, why they can’t give you the relationship you want or the respect you deserve. You pay the price and the payoff for you is that you get to continue to confirm to yourself that you aren’t good enough. You will end up feeling used and like you are just someone’s option for a rainy day.

It becomes a never ending cycle and you may go from relationship to relationship and find yourself in the same situation, with the same guy, who just happens to have a different face.

It’s taken me years – literally decades – of hearing the theory and of trying to put into practice the belief that I alone determine my worth, that I deserve more than just crumbs of someone’s attention and that only when I treat myself in a loving, respectful way, others may start to follow my lead – although I hasten to add that that’s a nice by-product, not the reason. The reason is my quality of life, my sense of self, my mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and my continued long term recovery from addiction and childhood trauma. 

It has been, and sometimes continues to be, SO DAMN HARD to change the way that I feel about me, but it’s only since the shift came that I slowly stopped seeking validation and relationships from unwilling sources. 

Social media is a minefield for anyone with fragile self esteem because it’s completely set up to feed a need for external validation (I am still a sucker for those little red dots that say I have x amount of “likes” and have to work lovingly with myself to recognize that pattern and see what’s going on, and spend some time reminding myself that they don’t define my value either within or outside of the online world). It’s a work in progress. I’m committed to it. 

Healthy people don’t sit around wondering why someone doesn’t want them. They are too busy living their lives, strutting their stuff in the radiant knowledge that they are MAGNIFICENT, regardless of what anyone else thinks of them. 

10 Ways Yoga Can Help Your Relationship

  “Yoga” translates as “union.” The tradition teaches that the union we’re seeking begins with ourselves and ultimately extends to all beings and to the universe itself. Marriage – or any solid relationship – is also a union, a union of two persons committed to sharing their lives in a loving partnership. 
Here are 10 ways yoga can help your relationship:

1.Yoga is about connection.  

Practicing yoga makes you more connected to yourself. The process of slowing down and connecting to your breath makes you more aware of how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. When you’re better able to understand yourself, it’s easier to be more understanding of others, which leads to feeling more connected. 

2.Yoga makes you more compassionate. 

Yoga teaches you to love and accept yourself. It teaches you to have compassion for yourself. When you can forgive yourself for not being perfect, it’s much easier to be compassionate with the imperfections of others. 

3.Yoga brings clarity and teaches you to take responsibility.

When you get clearer about your own stuff – your reactive tendencies, head trips, projections, and desires, you can take responsibility for your behavior. Taking responsibility for your part in a dynamic is an important step in shifting things. 

4.Yoga helps you process.

The very process of tuning in to your breath allows you to sift through your feelings and gain insight into whatever the issue is. From this more lucid place you can figure out if it’s something you need to discuss with your spouse, or if it’s better for you to process on your own. 

5.Yoga is about softening and letting go.

The physical practice is a great teacher; at some point you run into your own stuck places and there’s nowhere to run. Yoga teaches you to back off and go easy when you encounter a tight place in your body. Breathe deep. Soften. Let go. 

6.Yoga breeds tenacity. 

Of course you could come out of the pose (just like you could leave your relationship), but then what? That tightness will be waiting for you next time you do the pose (or when you get into a similar situation in your next relationship). With both yoga and a partnership, progress requires commitment and quiet determination coupled with non-attachment. You have show up, do the work and let go of the outcome. 

7.Yoga is confrontational. 

So is being in a relationship. There’s no clearer mirror than the one your partner holds up to you. 

You can try and blame your partner for your stuff, you can make him/her responsible for your happiness, but at the end of the day, it comes down to you. Who are you being in this relationship? What are you committed to? How are you willing to grow and expand your integrity? Your relationship will push you to face these questions. But yoga will too. 

8.Yoga teaches you to respond, not react.

Reaction is instantaneous; there’s no choice involved. X happens; Y follows. The space between reactivity and responsiveness is freedom: when we become less reactive we can rest in our equanimity. We reclaim our freedom slowly one breath at a time.

9.Yoga teaches you to have a sense of humor. 

Having a sense of humor really helps. It’s okay; it’s just yoga. Tomorrow will be better, or the next day, or the day after that. When you practice over the long term, you get a sense of the bigger picture. Not everyday will be the greatest, not every practice will feel complete. Sometimes you’ll be grumpy, tired, sore, whatever. But you know it’ll change and come round to feeling good again. You can relax and trust the process.

10.Yoga makes you a better lover.

Mmm hmm. Oh yes, it does. 

Yoga teaches you about restraint and abandon. It summons fearlessness and bolsters compassion. It shows you how to move with your breath, and synchronize it with others. 

It’s about sex as a vehicle for connection and for increasing intimacy. 

Yoga makes you a better lover because it makes you more in touch with yourself, and when you’re more in touch with yourself it’s easier to connect more deeply with someone else. When you show up and give generously to yourself, you can show up and give generously to another. 

I rest my case.

Thanks to Dearbhla Kelly, yoga teacher and writer for Huffington Post for the basis of this post. 

So, here I am!

And so a new day dawns, and I am hoping that this beautiful rain indicates all sorts of wonderful new beginnings, one being the birth of this shiny new blog. I’m so looking forward to getting active on it, but am having all manner of teething problems – and here I thought I was au fait with Tinterweb! Oh well, it’s no doubt just a matter of time and a steep learning curve, and then I’ll be as familiar with it as I am with getting settled on my yoga mat and starting my practice.  Bring it on!