First Things First: Self-Esteem Matters



Self-esteem is our relationship with ourselves:  how we view ourselves, how we treat ourselves, how we talk with ourselves, what we expect from ourselves, what we desire for ourselves, what we most respect, what we most admire.  Self-esteem is destiny: it determines what we seek, and that determines what we achieve.

Every relationship we have is a mirror, reflecting ourselves, providing an experience of ourselves.  Over time, we absorb what is mirrored to us: we internalize what we experience in relationships.  In positive relationships, we experience ourselves as worthy, capable, and special.  Through positive relationships, we internalize positive experiences of ourselves.

Our relationships are our psychological food.  Emotionally, they are what we absorb.  Just as the right foods nourish our bodies, the right relationships nourish our selves.  The love of parents for a child is internalized as that child's sense of self.  Abuse or neglect in a relationship is internalized as feeling unloved--and unlovable.

There are two simple ways to gauge a relationship. The first is to share something painful you're going through, some great challenge that you're facing.  If the other person simply wants you for what you can provide them, they will not respond.  They are interested in taking, not giving.  If the other person actually cares about you, they will drop everything and reach out.  A good relationship is a secure shelter in the storm.

The second way to gauge a relationship is just the opposite. Share something very positive that is happening in your life:  some joy, some success, some source of excitement and enthusiasm. If the other person shares and cherishes your happiness, you know you have a potential soulmate. If the other person is threatened by the best within you and does not respond to your joys and achievements, you know there is no true relationship. 

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