Healthy relationships start with who you think you are. Have you ever tuned in to the internal dialogue going on in your head? Your relationships, the quality and the quantity of them, reflect your self image and beliefs about yourself. If you have positive self-regard, you will attract others who practice the same beliefs and experience healthy relationships. Now that sounds like an easy to understand sentence but that is deceiving.
Just what do the words positive self-image mean to you? Merriam-Webster on line dictionary gives us this definition. “one’s conception of oneself or of one’s role”. So how do you consciously grasp what has been built over the course of your life time? Your ideas of who you are and what you deserve have been shaped by every social transaction you have experienced. If the bulk of them have been positive with plenty of affirmation given, you are likely to live your life in a state of positive expectancy that people will like you, cooperate with you, and even love you. You expect your commitments to them to be honored and cherished; that giving your love to them will be held in high esteem. If this is you, you are blessed and highly favored to find, over time, that you attract good people into your life.
On the other hand, if you grew up in an environment where you were treated with indifference or even outright hostility, you may have formed the opinion that there is something wrong with you and secretly believe that you will never be happy. Perhaps you go through life cycling through relationships that start off well but always end badly or in unsatisfactory ways. Or perhaps you are one of those people who, after experiencing several disappointments in your love relationships, withdraws from the pursuit of love altogether. Maybe you believe that you are only capable of superficial relationships and there is no real depth to your heart and the ability to love. The possibilities are as myriad as the numbers of people on the planet.
Your concept of self then is your deepest held ideas of your outcomes in life. Your current lifestyle and the state of your relationships reflects what you value and what you believe that you deserve currently. If you are not getting what you want, Perhaps you need to look at the types of people you attract with the question in mind, “What am I doing to attract these people?” in mind
If you suffer from unsatisfactory or unhealthy relationships, the place to start is a self inventory. What do you believe
your strengths are? How about your weaknesses? How do you want to be different? What do you feel you currently lack that is keeping you stuck? What is your plan to overcome your challenges? Ask a trusted friend or adviser that has demonstrated wisdom in their relationships for feedback about how they see you in these important areas.
If a voice arises in you that says, “I can’t do this!” you need to figure out where that voice is coming from. Is it the voice of an overly critical parent, friend, or lover? Or does the voice originate from a part of you filled with self doubt? Where did the belief come from? Just because failure has been a part of the past, does that mean failure is a necessary part of the present? Where did that idea come from.
A mentor of mine, in processing my own self doubts, advised me to start “doubting my doubts”. In other words, he was challenging me to confront my negative ideas of what I was capable of and what lifestyle I deserved. I have been doing that ever since. It makes a world of difference in my approach to tackling new challenges, Doubting my doubts and doing enough of the right things has resulted in going from a single, divorced young man to a happily married man in a 38 year old relationship with the love of my life.
Taking a fearless self inventory and then flying in the face of your fears can be a little scary but it is so worth the effort. You can find a new respect for yourself if you use the process to change the direction of your life towards who and what you have decided you desire.
I realize this is easier said than done. What assisted me was developing relationships with people who were wiser than I in the ways of long term loving relationships. They became life mentors. Down through the years, their wisdom, shared in long conversations and recommendations of good books, helped me to change for the better. They helped me to become a more positive, loving, and committed man. I am grateful for the time and the proven principles they passed on to me.
A healthy self image begins with humility, knowing where you are in the grand scheme of things. A humble person is one that understands that he or she has much to learn about life. You come to realize and accept that the learning never ends. Humble people are coachable and know their need for counsel. They are willing to pursue proven people and sources of ideas they can use to improve not only the quality of their own life but also the lives of those they cares about.
This subject, healthy relationships and self image, is a deep one to explore. After 40 years as a practicing psychotherapist, there is still so much to learn about this all important question, “Who am I?” I encourage you continue your journey of discovery of healthy love relationships. Don’t give up! Never quit on yourself! You have the God given right to pursue happiness.