5 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem

Recently, a lovely young woman approached me after church and asked if we could hang out and discuss life.  She had some concerns she needed a second opinion on, so over a cup of coffee and many laughs, we sat down and chatted about love and dating and singleness. 

I carefully watched her as we talked and while the woman radiated joy, she also gave off an air of insecurity.  It was if she was just waiting for someone, anyone to love and appreciate her.

And it made me sad because she didn’t recognize what I saw in her.  She saw unworthiness where I saw beauty, kindness and intelligence.

I tried to remind her of her value and worth and hoped it would stick -at least as far as the parking lot.

Often in life, we are the Simon Cowell in our very own version of American Idol.  We become our harshest critic and berate ourselves, compare ourselves to others and give grace to others we don’t give to ourselves. 

And because of this we walk around feeling lonely and miserable. 

When our self-esteem drops, simple criticism from others throws us into a state of agony because we are already so hard on ourselves there is little room for more.  These toxic tendencies steal our happiness and true identity.

Increasing your self-esteem based on who God says you are can dramatically reframe your perspective on life.  This involves recognizing who God is and who he says you are, ministering to your own needs and acknowledging them, accepting your strengths and weaknesses, celebrating your positive qualities and making choices that enhance your personal wellbeing.

Here are five ways to promote a healthy self-esteem:

1. Talk nicely to yourself and be your own fan! Ditch the negative thoughts such as “I’m so stupid” or “I’ll never amount to much” and replace it with positive and encouraging statements. Find verses to memorize that lift you up and fill you with courage.  Repeat… “With Christ all things are possible!” 

2. Get off the sofa and move, move, move!  Consistent physical activity wards off depression, fatigue and sickness while lifting your mood and ability to cope with stress. 

3. Acknowledge your needs. Stop putting everybody else first! (Your boss, your kids -for all you single parents, your significant other) While God tells us to be a foot-washing and humble servant, he doesn’t tell us to be a self-sacrificing martyr (Bible heroes like John the Baptist get a pass here).  Take care of the temple he gave you.  Get adequate rest, take care of personal hygiene, carve out quiet time, set boundaries, eat healthy, and stimulate your brain by connecting with others.

4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!  When feelings of insecurity plague you, you will more than likely replay old conversations and analyze and over analyze peoples motives and so on, wishing you could change something you said.   You will over think your behavior and lead yourself right down a rabbit hole into anxiety.   Remind yourself that you are human and imperfectly wonderful and then MOVE ON. If you need to apologize for an errant remark, quickly make amends and then let it go.  While it is healthy to pray and reflect for spiritual growth, it’s also destructive to beat yourself up over every little thing.

5. Be proud of who God made you to be!   Allow yourself to be an individual with unique preferences, thoughts and beliefs.  Don’t apologize for but celebrate your differences.  My husband Tim is the most interesting man I’ve ever met –a true character of sorts because he is quirky and knows exactly what he likes.  And truthfully his self confidence is what drew me to him.  (See Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Tim Keller)

Remember, we can’t control other people’s opinions and how they perceive us but we can control our attitude.  Don’t forget who God made you to be!  He certainly hasn’t!  Be proud of your distinct YOU-ness!

 

Are you a Codependent Dater?

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We throw around the word “codependent” to describe the clingy couple or the woman who makes excuses for her husband’s bad behavior.  But do we really know and recognize the patterns that lead to a codependent relationship? 

What if true codependence looked like some of the bad habits we (gasp!) display in relationships?

“Though there are many different versions of codependence, they all share the same underlying problem: They try to control their partner and they aren’t comfortable on their own.”–Dr. Seth Meyers

I can hear you now…”I’m not controlling, or “I’m not a passive control freak” in dating.  And while it may not be your issue, it couldn’t hurt to ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Were you raised with a family member battling addiction?
  • Were you the peacemaker in a family of contention?
  • Do you try to control your environment –obsessive cleanliness or order?
  • Do you find yourself compensating for other’s bad behavior?

Once we identify the red flags in our past brokeness we can change the cycles that seem to inevitably repeat themselves in each new relationship.

But where do we get started?

Dr. Seth Myer’s Love Prescription deconstructs the patterns of Relationship Repetition Syndrome -what we like to call the insanity cycle- doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The following article shares great insight on codependent couples and how to break these pesky and unhealthy behaviors.

Enjoy…

The term “codependent” emerged as a way to describe the relationship dynamic between an addict and his or her emotional caretaker. For example, Person A has a habit of getting too drunk, passing out, and arriving late to work the next day, so Person B tries to do everything possible to keep Person A on-track. Person B tries to control the behavior of Person A not out of spite or malice but to help keep the relationship functional. The caretaker’s fear is that, without their help, Person B will set off on a downward spiral that leads to more problems – sickness, the end of the relationship, a lost job, or even death.

In a codependent relationship, both individuals are codependent – not just one, no matter how extreme one member of the couple may seem to be. In the example above, the person who drinks too much depends on the caretaker to clean up their messes, both literal and figurative; the caretaker depends on the person who drinks too much to need him or her in order to survive. No one in a codependent relationship is truly happy. When the codependent attaches to someone and the relationship gets bad, the codependent feels unable to leave his or her partner. Instead, he, like all codependents, will stay because the alternative of being alone is too threatening.

See, the M.O. of the codependent is to avoid separation at all costs. This approach requires that the codependent abandon his own emotional needs in order to keep the relationship going. In other words, he loses himself. Over time, the term “codependent” has expanded to include couples in which there is fear around separations and attempts to control each other’s behavior. I will give you another example below of what a codependent relationship looks like.  READ MORE

–Samantha and Tim

For more resources, READ: Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie. Codependent No More is the kind of book that can become your friend, one you can keep on the nightstand and leaf through every few days for a tune-up. The book includes a chapter on anger which is especially helpful, as many codependents swallow their anger and need to learn how to express it appropriately.

Dr. Seth Meyers has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

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