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Connecting with Yourself and Achieving Success
by Michele Germain, LCSW
The better you know yourself the more successful you can be in your relationship. This is an important first step toward a healthy and happy significant relationship or marriage. Do you tell yourself I would feel more complete, safe or supported if I had a different partner? Are you always looking outside to make yourself feel good inside?
Stop and consider that your body, mind and heart carry your personal histories, which you bring with you into all your relationships. This includes the state of your self-esteem.
Our self-esteem is like a clay sculpture; shaped by the positive and negative messages we receive from our parents, family members, friends, and society. Because children lack the intellectual capacity to judge or distinguish between the accuracy of these “messages”, they accept all input as equal, internalizing early childhood information and labels. The negative messages leave cracks in our self esteem. As adults we can deny our own needs, judge ourselves harshly, and may tell ourselves we are not enough. Not intelligent enough, worthy enough, attractive, energetic, outgoing enough or whatever enough now looking outside ourselves to our partners or husbands to fill us up.
While growing up we may learn how to disguise, cover-up or valiantly patch some of the crack in our self-esteem. But it is unlikely we have resolved all our pain or childhood issues. But make no mistake, it all goes with us up the aisle into our marriage, and we start the climb up the hill with our hidden cracks, hidden pain, and hidden expectations. In fact we usually select our partner whose hidden unresolved issues interact perfectly with our own. This can create repeated conflicts that are not understood.
Let me make another point What you don’t know about yourself controls you and keeps you stuck in negative beliefs and feelings that are unresolved from childhood. These early self-esteem wounds unconsciously play out in your significant relationship/marriage and show themselves as unrealistic expectation. You can become frustrated and furious that you are not getting what you need to make you happy. Because you are unaware of your own wounds (let alone your partners), you may frequently blame him/her for your frustrations, repeating the process again and again.
How do you know how much old pain you are carrying around from the past? There might be obvious signs and symptoms such as depression, anxiety, angry outburst, difficult being intimate, the need for continual praise, the need to control everything and everyone around you, reacting negatively to whatever your partner says or often responding with hurt of feelings of abandonment and expecting others to do what you should be doing for yourself. Or you just feel a lack of pleasure in your life and in your relationship, as if something is missing. Once you understand yourself and the cracks in your own self esteem and how to make yourself happy, you will create happier relationships. A gentle hand of love will heal your wounds, but the gentle hand of love must first be your own.
Here are 5 healing tips:
l. Acknowledge and validate yourself for your accomplishments and efforts for your role as a parent, partner, friend, caregiver, professional etc. Do this daily. Looking to other to make your feel good about yourself will not work.
2. Take full responsibility for your peace of mind and your happiness. You can no longer look for the good parent you never had in your marriage or your significant relationship. Make a list of what makes you happy and seek to fill your own need.
3. Make a commitment to your growth and real self. Bring your full attention to your feeling, thoughts and behaviors and be aware of how your manage them. Replace negative self-talk with compassionate self-talk.
4. See all relationship as gifts, as they teach you about yourself. Keep a journal of your repeated conflicts and reoccurring feelings. Ask yourself if these are familiar issues and feelings from your past.
5. You have control of yourself, but you do not have control of others. Become aware of how you are trying to control others and learn to let go. Letting go is a strength not a weakness.
Your body, mind, heart and soul is your compass that will help you navigate your life. Everything you need is inside of you. As you develop your relationship with yourself, you will live life with greater ease and bring wholeness to all your relationships.
Michele Germain, LCSW, author of The Jill Principle, published by Llewellyn Worldwide, has a master degree in Social Worker from Wayne State University and is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and Marriage Family Therapist in California. She is a Certified Bioenergetic Analyst, offering an approach that that resolves the emotional pain remaining in the body, increasing the individuals well being and capacity for pleasure. She conducts workshops and seminars on a variety of mental health topics and life changing issues. She has appeared on radio, cable television and in print media, and has lectured aboard major cruise ship lines such as the Pearl and Royal Caribbean.. More information on her work can be found at www.thejillprinciple.com.