In a self-esteem group this week a client said she’d been married three times – each time to abusive men. The first abused her physically. The second and third abused her emotionally by calling her stupid and saying she could never do anything right. She recognized her poor self-esteem was the underlying factor in her selection of abusive mates.
“But anyway, I’m done with relationships,” she said in conclusion.
I pointed out that avoiding relationships doesn’t address the low self-esteem that led to such unions. Avoiding the issue doesn’t help us do the positive things that allow us function as competent and worthwhile human beings. The fact that we’ll be in a relationship with anyone – if they’ll just accept us – imposes a heavy price for surrendering our dignity and self-worth. These kinds of relationships usually involve abuse or long-suffering misery. This is a self-imposed imprisonment that denies us happiness and fulfillment simply because we don’t feel good about who we are. We alcoholics and addicts often endure this reality by existing in a fog of alcohol or drugs.
Nathaniel Branden, author of the Psychology of Self-Esteem, says we’re deserving of happiness and explains how to achieve it. We do it by recognizing and accepting everything about ourselves as a starting point in moving toward a fulfilling life.
If we build our lives upon a belief that we’re competent beings, deserving of a rich existence, positive circumstances and people will manifest in our lives.