SELF-ESTEEM AND HOW LOW SELF-ESTEEM LEADS TO UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS self-esteem and how low self-esteem leads to unhealthy relationships
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Today I’d like to talk about self-esteem, as described by the ‘father of self-esteem’, Nathaniel Branden. Much of this content is derived from his book, “6 Pillars of Self-Esteem.” I’m also going to touch on the cost of having low self-esteem in the context of abusive relationships.

Introduction to Self-Esteem

The best definition of self-esteem is the sense of viewing oneself as capable of handling the basic challenges of life and as deserving of happiness. Self-esteem allows us not just to feel better, but to live better.

Self-esteem has two components:

1. Self-Respect (worthiness) — the sense of deserving happiness and joy, and the confidence to express your thoughts, needs, and wants. A deep conviction in your own value.
2. Self-efficacy (competence) — confidence in your ability to think, learn, choose, and decide, and the trust in yourself to handle life’s challenges.

Self-efficacy indicates that you have control over your life, as opposed to being a victim of circumstances. Self-respect reflects your belief in your worthiness of love and respect in interactions with others. With high self-esteem, you believe you deserve a happy life. Conversely, with low self-esteem, you feel undeserving of happiness and consider yourself fundamentally flawed. An average level of self-esteem fluctuates between feeling right and wrong about oneself, leading to inconsistent behaviors that reinforce one’s uncertain self-identity.

Your self-esteem level can change; it can improve or decline. Your self-esteem sets implicit expectations about what’s appropriate and achievable for you. These expectations drive actions and behaviors, which in turn reinforce those original beliefs. In essence, low self-esteem perpetuates low self-esteem and vice versa. High self-esteem means that we are more open and honest, and we trust that our thoughts have value. In contrast, low self-esteem is characterized by evasion, dishonesty, and defensiveness due to fear and doubt about one’s thoughts and worth.

Low Self-Esteem and Unhealthy Relationships — The Cost of Low Self-Esteem

A foundational principle of human relationships is that we often feel most comfortable with individuals whose self-esteem mirrors our own. Individuals with low self-esteem unconsciously gravitate towards others with similar self-perceptions, often feeling they’ve met their ‘soulmate’ or ‘twin flame.’

It’s essential to note that a narcissist doesn’t genuinely possess high self-esteem; they merely project a facade of confidence to mask their profound insecurity.

When your self-perception is negative, you’re likely to attract partners who share that view internally. If you feel undeserving of love, your actions align with that belief. When emotionally empty, you see others as a means to fill that void. This makes you susceptible to manipulators who provide validation during the idealization phase of the relationship.

The initial charm or love bombing becomes a source of the approval you crave. Overpromises about the future feed your desire for validation, keeping you hooked even when they remain unfulfilled. In essence, a foundation of profound insecurity can inadvertently lead you towards relationships that confirm your fears.

Nathaniel Branden observed that the tragedy of many individuals lies in choosing to be ‘right’ over choosing happiness. This means people often self-sabotage happiness to uphold their deeply ingrained beliefs. When one has low self-esteem, they are more prone to toxic relationships and may undermine any signs of a healthy relationship, as it challenges their internalized sense of unworthiness.

Low Self-Esteem and Being Stuck in a Toxic Relationship

Being in a toxic relationship erodes self-esteem. Denying feelings, holding onto a failing relationship, rejecting reality, avoiding conflict, and hoping for miraculous changes diminishes one’s self-worth. Opting for inaction when action is necessary can devastate one’s self-perception. Healthy self-esteem aligns with actions that prioritize well-being.

Distorted self-images can make one defensive and resistant to accepting the reality of a toxic situation. Furthermore, the inability to trust oneself to make beneficial decisions or the fear and doubt that arise from false accusations can be destabilizing. A low self-esteem approach to challenges leans towards avoidance, even if it means remaining in a detrimental relationship.

By working on self-esteem, relationships become about sharing inner richness rather than fulfilling deficits. These insights are discussed in the book “Six Pillars of Self-esteem,” which I highly recommend, especially for those seeking autonomy.

In conclusion, understanding oneself is more pivotal than endlessly learning about relationships. A few books on toxic relationships can provide foundational knowledge, but personal growth comes from challenging one’s worldview. To evolve, it’s essential to move beyond validation-seeking and confront content or books that challenge current perspectives. This approach fosters a deep, secure sense of self, providing a foundation for genuine transformation.

In future writings, I will delve deeper into the concepts from Branden’s book, discussing the characteristics of healthy self-esteem and how to cultivate it using the six pillars he outlines.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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